Inhumans is coming. Casting announcements have started to roll out, and at the very top of the list sits the Bolton we all hated with a passion: Maximus the Mad, who will be played by Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones). ABC is even partnering with IMAX to shoot and screen the first two episodes in a cinematic format so fans can hit theaters and get both big and small screen experiences all in one show. So it's safe to say that Inhumans is definitely doing everything in its power to add its name to the list of wildly successful comic book genre adapted properties already.
The source material for the show comes from as far back as the silver age of comic books (1956-1970), so there is a wide demographic of fans to impress, and obviously an even larger group of people who are going in blind as well. The goal of most shows like Inhumans is to find the happy medium between those two groups so that both are satisfied. Sometimes it works great, and sometimes it really doesn't. But since we already know for sure that Maximus is locked in and loaded, it makes sense to take a look back at the origins of the character, in the panels and behind the scenes, as well as powers and character traits, etc – just to get a sense of who it is we're dealing with here.
Maximus is Royalty
The character currently referred to as Lord Maximus was born from the one of the undisputed top five comic book creator duos that exists in the history of the genre – Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Back in 1965, in Fantastic 4 #45, the Inhumans appeared for the very first time in comics, and just two months after that in issue 47 Maximus made his debut.
Maximus is the second son of Agon, the head of the Council of Geneticists, and Rynda, who directs the Prenatal Care Center on the planet Attilan (the island of the Gods). Because his parents were the top two geneticists on the island, clearly they felt the need to play around with the DNA of their own children for the good of science. Their first child, Blackagar Boltagon, was introduced to the Terrigen mist while he was still an embryo. He was born with powers so strange and dangerous that he had to be placed in a soundproof chamber in a harness that controlled his energy levels. So naturally, when Maximus was born they decided he need to come in contact with Terrigen mist too. However, he showed no outward signs of its affects. Even when he did discover his powers, he did a good job of hiding them from his family and the world around him.
Although he wasn't locked up like his brother, Maximus' adolescence was pretty much spent avoiding people too. He wasn't the most social guy, and there was always something just a little shifty about him. In fact, directly after his Black Bolt is finally deemed safe to assimilate into society, his younger brother's first move is to try and get him locked back up by forcing him to use his powers. A month after that, Black Bolt catches Maximus making a shady deal with a Kree emissary (the race of aliens who first gave the Inhumans their genetically enhanced powers). Bolt has to use his powers to stop the Kree from getting away on their spaceship and his quasi-sonic powers knock it out of the sky. Unfortunately, the ship lands directly on the parliament building, killing both of their parents in the process. Maximus also caught some damage from standing too close to Black Bolt's sonic blast, rendering him basically insane and suppressing his abilities. From that moment on, Maximus declares war on his brother, who goes on to become ruler of the Inhumans at 20 years old.
Powers & Abilities
Maximus' Inhuman powers are mostly all about the mind. Sure, he has some superhuman strength, to a degree, but he's not getting himself into many hand-to-hand combat situations – that's just not his cup of tea. It is said that he is slightly stronger than even the most perfect human the Marvel universe has to offer, Captain America, but Maximus would much rather achieve his goals using gifts like mind control.
Even though his powers are at various levels of potency throughout different arcs and storylines, his mind control powers are always a present factor. At the height of his powers he can completely take over and reprogram the minds of others. He can also control the minds of everyone within a 20 ft radius at one time, but can only direct the collective to do one specific action at a time. There is also precedent for his powers causing people to suffer from amnesia. And the more limited the being he controls is in intelligence, the easier it is for him to force his will on their mind.
Even though he's technically insane. Maximus is also quite the weapons and equipment innovator. He develops an entire weapons technology using vibranium capacitors that store the sonic whispers of his brother Black Bolt to power sonic rifles, traps, and detonatable charges.
Maximus is the younger black sheep of the family, looking to take power and vengeance in an attempt to prove to himself and others that he is supremely superior. That doesn't sound too different from Ramsay Bolton, which is why the casting decision is being praised by both the critics and the fans. We don't know yet just how much the show will lean on the source material that came before it, but even if they only keep the overarching points, its very clear that Lord Maximus is going be a character that has some very dynamic and powerful scenes.