Why Villain Maximus Is Really the Hero of ‘Inhumans’

Kim Taylor-Foster
TV Marvel
TV Marvel

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s Inhumans.

The first two episodes of Marvel’s Inhumans – the latest series from the comic-book powerhouse – can now be seen on IMAX screens just about everywhere. And while this first chapter gives us a hint of what’s to come, there’s plenty yet to discover. By the end of Episode 2, we’re left with the series antagonist Maximus rousing the working classes of Attilan in an impassioned speech about freedom. Which leaves us wondering about his real motives and intentions.

In the show, Maximus betrays his brother Black Bolt, the king, to lead a military coup. This sees the Inhuman royal family flee the lunar city of Attilan for Earth to escape the threat.

FANDOM spoke to Iwan Rheon, who plays Maximus in the series, ahead of the release of the rest of Season 1 about what we can expect from Maximus as Inhumans progresses.

“Maximus is a meticulous planner,” reveals Rheon. “He doesn’t just wing it, he’s thought long and hard about this. He’s really thought about it. He’s been trying to convince his family for a long time now that something needs to be done. You know, they’re running out of resources and all this stuff so he’s been thinking about this for a long time, and his plan is multifaceted. He’s not stupid.”

Inhumans_throne room
Maximus soaking up throne room vibes.

While Maximus is positioned as the main antagonist of Inhumans, there’s a lot about him that’s sympathetic, or that at least allows you to understand where he’s coming from. The regime the inhabitants of Attilan live under with Black Bolt as ruler operates as a caste system. Those with lesser powers inhabit the bottom rungs and are forced to work in the mines. Those with superior superpowers, meanwhile, get to live a freer, more privileged life above ground.

“When you look at what Maximus is saying, it makes a lot of sense,” says Rheon. “These people are living in terrible conditions and they are miserable. It is an archaic caste system that’s been going on for centuries, and maybe he would make a better leader than his brother.”

Man of the People

Watching the first two episodes, there’s every reason to believe that Maximus could just as easily be the show’s hero as he is the villain. Rheon agrees.

“When you have this quiet enigmatic leader who doesn’t say anything, and you don’t know what he’s thinking, and only Medusa can speak to him… is that a good leader?” says Rheon of Black Bolt. “Do you want that? This man who just takes everything as a burden … Whereas Maximus could make a fantastic leader. He’s a man of the people. He understands the people. He gives a wonderful speech. He’s intelligent and he’s progressive.”

All Politics Are (Probably) Personal

He's not all bad. Is he? This does make him look bad.

But Rheon does hint that there’s more to him than a character who is simply looking out for the population of Attilan.

“I certainly don’t think he’s completely altruistic, and I think all politics are probably personal,” he says. “But he does understand the plight of the lower class because it could so easily have been him. He could have been that guy down there. But because of the family that he was born to and he was pitied by his brother, [he was] allowed to stay up in the top end of Attilan with the royal family. So he does get it and I think a lot of his ideas are right. There’s a huge threat that humanity are going to discover them – and what to do? But there is always going to be a personal goal within politics and as you watch the series it develops beautifully into that kind of conflict.”

As the series continues, then, we can look forward to seeing Maximus reveal his true colours as he exhibits the kind of self-serving Machiavellian scheming that befits a screen villain.

You can catch the first chapter of Marvel’s Inhumans on IMAX screens from September 1. The entire series will then air on TV and other devices soon after.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.