Pedro Pascal as Max Lord
(Warner Bros.)

The Inspiration for Wonder Woman 1984′s Max Lord Is Scarily Fitting for 2020

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Max Lord is the kind of villain who convinces those around him that he can give them everything they want and more, and he doesn’t tell them about the danger in doing so. So … it’s not really that surprising that Wonder Woman 1984′s version of the character is inspired by Donald Trump (along with other powerful “evil” men like Bernie Madoff).

In an interview with ComicBook.com, director Patty Jenkins talked about the inspirations that made up the movie’s version of Max Lord, and it’s fascinating to see how they brought Pedro Pascal’s villain to life:

[Trump is] one of [the inspirations]. The funny thing is like, he is [an influence], but I’m not trying to make [a point]. Even we have the president in this movie and I’ve gone out of my way not to make it look like Ronald Reagan. I don’t want to get political, it’s not about political. Actually, a huge influence of this movie was also Madoff. And so what I was looking at was, those young Madoff story [sic] fascinates me, because I’m like, ‘How do you end up being Bernie Madoff?’ And when you really start tracking that story, it’s like, it all started out in a way that made sense and he was paying it off and then doing this and then paying it off again. And then, it’s just like you just become an evil dude when you don’t even realize that it’s happening. So, yes, Trump’s definitely one of the people that we looked at, but it’s any of those kind of mavericks of business success that was big in the ‘80s [who] went on to be major players in our world in potentially questionable in other ways.

Here’s the thing: Villains inspired by Donald Trump … work. Look at Biff in the Back to the Future movies or even Patrick Bateman, to an extent. They idolize the idea of the businessman that Trump sells himself as, and that drive turns them into monsters that seem to always find their own demise.

Trump’s main tactic is manipulation—telling people what they want to hear, giving them this false sense of security in his ability to do things, and, in a lot of ways, that is Max Lord. He promises people happiness, joy, gifts, and whatever else they dream of but doesn’t give them the reality of the situation.

Also tying in Bernie Madoff, the man currently serving 150 years in prison for a massive Ponzi scheme (and other charges), it’s obvious that Max Lord isn’t someone we want to associate with, but it brings me back to the idea of Donald Trump as a villain. As Jenkins pointed out, she didn’t want this to be a political thing, and look, it isn’t. Trump has been depicted as a villain since 1989 (when Back to the Future Part II was released).

According to the screenwriter, the Biff we see in multiple timelines is inspired by the then-businessman. Prior to his villainous ways as a politician and president, Trump was already seen as evil, which … is saying a lot. On top of that (and maybe my favorite example of the evil ways of Donald Trump), American Psycho also had its villainous lead harbor an unexplainable love for Trump.

Patrick Batman believed in everything Trump said and believed he was great, and that book was published back in 1991. I’m just pointing out that from the dawning of Trump and his ugly towers, people have connected him to greed and power and, often, evil. So, using him as part of the basis for Max Lord, a character who often brings destruction to people and pain to Diana Prince, isn’t that outlandish.

What it does though is give me a morbid curiosity about him as a character. So Max Lord, I’m excited to see where you take us, but trust me, if you hurt my baby girl (which I know you will), we’ll have problems.

(image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.