Who is Maxwell Lord? Wonder Woman 1984 villain’s comic backstory explained

The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal is joining the DC Extended Universe.

Pedro Pascal stars as Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is right around the corner and promises to put the DC Comics icon through her paces, as she reunites with a figure from her past and faces off against two formidable foes.

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While many fans are excited to see classic adversary Cheetah in live-action for the first time, Pedro Pascal has also got the internet talking as he takes on the role of businessman Maxwell Lord.

The character has been a presence in several of DC’s biggest comic book events over the years and has a particularly noteworthy history with Wonder Woman.

Read on for everything you need to know about Wonder Woman 1984‘s Maxwell Lord.

Who is Wonder Woman 1984’s Maxwell Lord?

When we meet him in Wonder Woman 1984, Maxwell Lord is a businessman heading up an oil company called Black Gold International and eagerly seeking investors via some gloriously awkward television infomercials.

Wonder Woman 1984 cast member Pedro Pascal explains: “He’s selling the American dream of wealth by convincing you to call in and give him your money to invest in oil. The problem is, he’s still digging.

“Of course, he doesn’t reveal that to the public. It’s not intended to be a scam, it’s just that he hasn’t struck oil yet in any of the places he’s looked. Now, he’s become desperate.”

Pedro Pascal plays Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984
Pedro Pascal plays Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984
Warner Bros/YouTube

Maxwell Lord eventually allies himself with Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah and takes a more villainous path in life, but his misguided actions come from an overwhelming need to make his young son proud.

Pascal continues: “What’s interesting about Max is that he’s a very familiar guy: divorced, has a kid, doesn’t want his son to see him as a failure and believes the best way to show his son he’s a success is to become powerful and rich and provide him with whatever he dreams of having.

“It’s a very expensive lifestyle to maintain, but something we can all relate to, I think. How far he will go in terms of proving his worth to himself, the world and, ultimately, his son, is what turns him into what we know as a proper DC villain.”

Maxwell Lord origin story explained

In the comics, Maxwell Lord is the son of a successful businessman who first rises to prominence when he assembles the Justice League International, after they lacked leadership following the Crisis on Infinite Earths event.

He would later take on a crucial role in the similarly titled DC Comics event Infinite Crisis, where it is revealed that he has been secretly gathering intel on the world’s superheroes during his time leading the League, believing them to be a threat to mankind’s existence.

Maxwell Lord in DC comics
Maxwell Lord in DC comics
DC Comics

During this storyline, Lord is able to telepathically seize control of Superman’s mind to use him as a weapon against Batman and Wonder Woman – culminating in a pivotal confrontation between himself and the Amazonian warrior.

She demands he release Superman from his influence but Lord refuses and threatens to use the Man of Steel’s power to kill people, backing Diana into a corner where she was forced to kill Lord in order to keep innocent people safe.

Wonder Woman’s decision to kill Lord proved to be controversial, both among comic book readers and her fictional associates, with Batman and Superman temporarily distancing themselves from her.

Maxwell Lord powers and abilities

In his earliest comic book appearances, Maxwell Lord had no super powers and was simply a businessman, but in later stories he was shown to develop telepathic abilities that made him very persuasive – and in some cases, allowed him to control another person.

However, it appears that Wonder Woman 1984’s incarnation of Lord will indeed be a regular human being, as star Pedro Pascal has alluded to in recent comments.

He said: “The thing I love most about Max Lord is that he’s not a fighter — his shirt doesn’t come off, he doesn’t have any moves or anything like that. So, I got to eat whatever I wanted and always justify it because my character isn’t in shape and doesn’t have fighting skills.”

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Wonder Woman 1984 arrives in UK cinemas on 16th December. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.