ByDavid Opie, writer at
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David Opie

Moustache-twiddling bad guys may epitomise villainy for some, but the truth is that the very best antagonists are those who still hold onto a shred of humanity. It's easy to dismiss villains who want the world to end as their motivations are (hopefully) far removed from our own. It's relatable bad guys who we should be scared of most.

This is exactly why Iwan Rheon's portrayal of Maximus in 's Inhumans holds so much potential and could even solve the studio's oft-discussed 'villain problem'. After all, the 'Mad' Inhuman's evil is rooted in jealousy and discontent over how his brother Black Bolt is ruling their kingdom. Maximus may act questionably and even downright despicably at times, but his motivation is ultimately driven by a need to protect the Inhumans and propel them to greatness.

However, we recently discovered during our interview with Inhumans director Roel Reiné that Maximus may be even more relatable than we expected and that he may not even be the true villain of the show. That distinction is apparently reserved for Black Bolt and Medusa, the two 'heroes' of Inhumans and no, they haven't been secretly replaced by Skrulls.

Which Side Is The Royal Family Really On?

Upon asking Reiné to explain the character of Maximus and what drives him, the director revealed that inequality within the Inhumans society is key to the show's central conflict.

Reiné explained to us that;

"Black Bolt and Medusa are on the wrong side and Maximus is on the right side of reason. The only thing is his means to get there are a little bit more radical and extreme. In the end, his path is a righteous path, which makes his character very interesting."

While Reiné doesn't condone the ways in which Maximus uses violence to meet his goals, it's fascinating to hear how the supposed heroes of the story aren't perfect either. Despite being the characters who we're supposed to identify with, the Royal Family will also act questionably at times, working to maintain a rigid caste system that promotes inequality among their people.

Who Is The Real Villain In Marvel's Inhumans?

Inhumans [Credit: Marvel/ABC]
Inhumans [Credit: Marvel/ABC]

As comic book fans will know, the powers which each member of the Inhumans race receive after undergoing Terrigenesis dictates their station in society. Those who are weaker or possess abilities conducive to manual labor sit on the bottom rungs of this hierarchy while the likes of Black Bolt and Medusa reign as King and Queen. As far as we're aware, the live-action version of Maximus on the show doesn't possess any abilities of his own, so he should have been relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy too. However, Maximus was allowed to remain in the Royal Family, because his brother is the King.

It's easy to see then how the dynamics of Inhumans will shift away from what we're used to seeing on a Marvel show. While it's clear which side The Defenders or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are on, the ideology held by the likes of Black Bolt and Medusa is less heroic than fans may be used to. In another world, the far more relatable "Mad" Inhuman would actually be the hero of the story, fighting as a man of the people — albeit through unnecessarily violent means.

Reiné promises that Inhumans won't shy away from the political message that the unequal caste system will convey;

"[Marvel and show runner Scott Buck] thought it was really important to have a political message. It's not only entertainment. You also want people to learn something and that's what we did. We embraced the political side of things."

While Reiné couldn't reveal exactly how the caste system will be portrayed on the show, he did promise that we'll be provided with all sides of the argument, including the perspective of those deemed as the 'lower class.' As the series progresses, Maximus may rise as their champion, paralleling real-life concerns on equality in alarmingly prescient ways.

If that's the case, then perhaps the 'villain' of will turn out to be the most human character of them all, painting the Royal Family out as the true antagonists of the story. To be fair though, it's not like Black Bolt can defend himself verbally in a court of law.

Who is the real villain in the Inhumans TV show? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!


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