What's Up With Maximus & Black Bolt's Relationship in Marvel's Inhumans?

It's not all brotherly love on InhumansWhile Inhumans is certainly a show about super-powered heroes, it is also a family drama. Nearly all the main characters are members of the royal family on Attilan - the secret city on the moon where the inhumans live. The Inhumans trailer specifically focuses on one relationship - between Black Bolt and his younger brother, Maximus.

The story of the brothers shown in the trailer is a familiar one. One brother is the King, and the other brother wants to be. From Hamlet to The Lion King to Thor, the tale of the younger brother turning to evil to take the throne from his older sibling is well-known. However, a few things make the relationship between Maximus and Black Bolt different. The biggest difference is that Black Bolt cannot speak without causing damage and even harm, so he is silent when Maximus talks - something demonstrated in great detail in the trailer.

During a visit to the set of Inhumans, Screen Rant spoke to the actors behind Black Bolt and Maximus about the relationship between their characters. Anson Mount and Iwan Rheon spoke about their royal brothers, showing that the relationship is actually rather complicated:

SR: Can you talk to us about the relationship that Black Bolt has with his brother, Maximus, and has it already deteriorated at the beginning of the show or do we get to see that rise and fall from there?

Anson Mount: Well, I can’t really speak to plot. I’m pretty well versed at this point on the mythos and that is one of the more enjoyable relationships for the reasons of the antagonism between two people who, on some level, love each other. So I think that, um, what we are doing with it, you know, Scott Buck is a smart writer. He’s starting it in a place where you have places to go. That’s all I’ll say about that.

While Mount doesn't reveal much, he does indicate that Black Bolt and Maximus still care about each other, even though they don't tend to agree. Meanwhile, Rheon's answer gave a few more details:

SR: The first question I have is can you talk about your relationship with your brother, Black Bolt? Not your brother, but your character’s brother?

Iwan Rheon: Yeah. Black Bolt is the older brother of Maximus, so he was always the first in line to be king, which is something I think Maximus always kind of fancied and feels that he would be a better king because, first of all, he can speak without destroying the whole world around him. And, yeah, I think he is maybe more of a dynamic leader he feels. So, yeah, but he’s loyal to him with one eye always on the crown.

This certainly makes it sound like Maximus is a conflicted character, wanting to be loyal to his brother and king but always believing that he would be a better king if only given the chance. However, according to Rheon, Maximus has more counting against him than just his youth:

One of the big relationships is obviously with Black Bolt, but can you talk to us about his relationship with, Maximus’ relationship with the other members of the royal family?

Iwan Rheon: Yes. Maximus kind of, when he went through his Terragenesis and he became [Inhuman], he was kind of looked down upon because it’s the worse thing that can happen to you. And had he not been the king’s brother, he would have ended up down in the mines. So, yeah, he’s kind of looked down upon by the rest of the royal family because being an actual human kind of makes him feel terrible because, in a weird way, yeah, that’s kind of how they view the whole world. So he is the sort of runt of the royal family. Yeah, in a sense, although he stills loves them.

So in a society where people have powers and amazing abilities, Maximus has none. He is human in a family full of full-blown Inhumans. It explains some of the bitterness he shows to the humans living on Earth, as well as his passion for making life better for the Inhumans. It seems like he is trying to prove his usefulness, prove that even as a human, he belongs. The questions then moved on to whether Maximus is sane or evil, or if - like his relationship with his brother - things are much more complicated:

Does your character see himself as mad? Because I know he’s Maximus the Mad. Does he actually see himself as crazy or do you justify like he’s doing this for all the right reasons?

Iwan Rheon: Well, I think in this, our version of the story, because that’s a particular strand of the graphic novels and the comics, so this is very much just, he certainly doesn’t see himself as mad and I don’t think he is mad.


Iwan Rheon: No. He’s kind of a very passionate, sort of charismatic politician more than anything.

But he doesn’t act maliciously?

Iwan Rheon: He doesn’t act maliciously? No. No. He wants the best for all the people of Attilan.

Marvel's Inhumans - Anson Mount cast as Black Bolt

Since the trailer clearly shows that Maximus will betray his brother, and because of Rheon's unforgettable performance as Ramsey Snow/Bolton on Game of Thrones it is certainly easy to assume that Maximus is malicious and mad. After all, Rheon is famous for playing a character who is both, and he obviously betraying his brother - taking the throne, and planning on taking the Earth away from humanity - so calling Maximus evil seems like an obvious thing to do. But it sounds like Rheon is describing a character who - while antagonistic - has good intentions for his people and is much more complicated than a tradition power hungry villain. If anything, he sounds like a politician - an assesment that Rheon agrees with:

So you said he’s a brilliant politician. So does he work behind-the-scenes?

Iwan Rheon: Yes. I guess, yeah. He’s very intelligent and he’s good with people, so he knows how to sort of, which is why he believes I guess in a certain way that he would be a better king because he’s a people’s person and because his Terragenesis made him a human, so he lost his Inhuman gene, so, therefore, he is more a part of the people and with the sort of caste society that we have on Attilan. So if you have a power that is very useful, then you would go straight to the top of the system. And then if it’s a rubbish power like if you have claws for hands, you get sent to the mines and he believes that all those people should be free and that they should be a part of the society and he believes that the caste system is wrong.

So you are more the revolutionary?

Iwan Rheon: Yeah. I guess, he has revolutionary ideas. Yeah. He wants to change. He wants to shake up the whole system.

So he likes being on stage and talking to the masses?

Iwan Rheon: Yeah. He likes a bit of that.

Like a Roman Emperor?

Iwan Rheon: Yeah. It’s very Shakespearean in that way. Yeah. He has these speeches with people. Or a Roman Emperor. He likes this idea that he can talk.

Wanting to make a more equal society and not punish or reward people for the powers they receive certainly does not make Maximus sound evil. If anything, that's traditionally the desires of heroic characters in fiction. It also brings to question what kind of king Black Bolt is, if he allows this system to exist. It sounds more and more like neither brother is entirely good or evil. Both fall somewhere in the middle, but still on opposite sides.

NEXT: Inhumans Trailer Breakdown & Analysis

Inhumans premieres in IMAX on September 1, and on ABC on September 29.

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