- "I want everyone to know who's helping them in their time of need, a human being. Supergirl lulls us into complacency. She fools us into thinking she'll save us and renders us incapable of saving ourselves. Like heroin, or the welfare state."
- —Maxwell Lord to Kara Danvers[src]
Maxwell Lord is the only son of a couple of government scientists who worked on biological experiments. One day, they tried to report a weakness in the safety system, but their employers wouldn't listen and left the system as it was. Two months after this, despite Max's repeated attempts to warn his parents and their employers, a virus made it into their protective suits, melting first their internal organs and then their entire bodies. This incident left the young Max with a deep-seated hatred for the government.
Oil spill into the bay
After Supergirl caused an oil spill at the National City Port, Maxwell spoke with KPJT News about it, specifically about how her arrival would bring unneeded trouble to National City, much like Superman's did to Metropolis. He noted that since Superman had arrived in Metropolis, their maintenance budgets had quadrupled.
Maxwell was then kidnapped by Reactron so he could fix his suit. On a scrapyard, Maxwell fixed the suit and was eventually saved by Supergirl. Later he falsely said that Superman was the one who saved him. The same day at night, he attended Cat Grant's party about Supergirl and danced with her, failing in persuading Cat to know how she got herself an interview with the Girl of Steel. Reactron then crashed the party, and Maxwell was again saved by Supergirl.
After one of his labs was destroyed by a bomb, Alex confronts Maxwell about firing Ethan Knox six months ago, telling how he snapped when his daughter got sick. Alex says this person targets Maxwell, and that he should cancel his train's planned maiden voyage. Maxwell replies he doesn't put much faith in the government's protection. Alex says she knows about his parents, and that they worked for the government. Maxwell then talks about how his parents trusted the government with the safety of their lab but how the system then malfunctioned and they died. Later during the first launch of his bullet train, he allowed Carter Grant to board his train, believing that he had lost his parents on it and while trying to save the train, Supergirl requested that the two get everyone to the back of the train, away from Ethan and the explosion. Supergirl manages to stop the train and no one gets hurt. Because she believes Maxwell to be behind the bombings, she confronts him in his office. Although he denied doing so, he called it a theory worth exploring, and dissected the recent attacks, implying that he had done it all to test Supergirl, and furthermore discover her identity. Kara then warned him that she was watching him, and it wasn't over, to which Max agreed.
Max and Alex
After Red Tornado went rogue, Alex presented him with the android's arm and said she needed help finding it. Though initially he refused, later, apparently "concerned for the situation", Max informed her that Red Tornado wasn't acting alone, as is nothing but a drone—and that Dr. Morrow was in fact still controlling it. When an earthquake strikes National City in the exact moment Supergirl has temporarily lost her powers, Max Lord assisted the residents of the city.
After a Kryptonians attack to Lord Technologies Alex, accepted Max's invitation to a dinner to interrogate him. After she learned that the appetizer they're eating is actually snail eggs (which cost $100 a spoon) she spits them out in a napkin then starts to question him about what the aliens were looking for in his laboratory. Max recalls that Supergirl is also an alien, Alex replied that Supergirl saves lives. Max tells her that she too saves lives, and asks her what's her real relation to Supergirl. Alex responds that she works for her organization and she's a reliable employee. Finally, Max tells her that they have conducted an inventory in the laboratory and found that the aliens did not take anything, then he proposes a toast to "Alex Danvers, a real hero". Unbeknownst to her, Maxwell planted a recording device in Alex's purse and, later that night, when she goes to Kara's apartment, he overhears their conversation, confirming his suspicions that they're sisters.
Bizarro and arrest
Later Max Lord created a clone of Supergirl to kill her and then take her place. However, after Supergirl managed to defeat her double, Alex goes to him, saying she knew that he's responsible. Max indirectly confesses his experiments, but threatens Alex to not reveal his operations, insinuating that he knows her family; however, Alex orders D.E.O. agents to arrest him and, when he threatened to reveal Supergirl's secret identity, she slams him on a desk and stated no one would hear him, then she brought him to the D.E.O., where he was imprisoned.While in D.E.O.'s captivity, Max helped Alex to connect with Kara's fantasy world to awake her from her Black Mercy-induced coma. The next day he bargained Kara for parole due to his help in saving her life. She calmly refused and cited how dangerous he was, until he started to lose his polite exterior and yelled that she would be dead if not for him, but she countered that without him, the world would be a better place. However, not many days later, Alex and Kara released Max from his cell and told him he's free to go, threatening him to never reveal their secrets or they would reveal his crimes.
Maxwell Lord created a synthetic Red Kryptonite in hopes of subduing Non's next attack. However, it backfired disastrously when a sample he inadvertently left in a former lab infected Supergirl and gradually turned her evil. Rather than kill Kryptonians, Red Kryptonite lowers and gradually destroys their inhibitions, even after they have left its presence. Eventually, the Kryptonian will be left without morality, rationality, or any cares whatsoever. When he found out that the Red Kryptonite had infected Supergirl, he started tracking her, then helped the D.E.O. create an antidote, in the form of a red energy beam weapon, that brought Supergirl back to her senses.
When everyone in National City is put under the influence of Myriad, Supergirl comes to CatCo and learns that Cat Grant and Maxwell Lord are not, thanks to some ionic blockers invented by the latter. Later, Max Lord tells Supergirl his plan to detonate a bomb of Kryptonite dust over the city to kill all the Kryptonians; however, the explosion will also kill 8% of the city's population. Despite Max having received permission from the President to use the bomb, Supergirl and Cat Grant come up with a new, more humane plan. They went to Cat's original broadcasting station in order to transmit to the citizen a speech that embodies Supergirl's optimism, love and hope, successfully breaking Myriad's control over National City. Realizing that Myriad failed, Non and Indigo decided to kill all the people on Earth using the device that powered the program: the Omegahedron. Thereafter, at the D.E.O., Maxwell Lord tells everyone that Myriad's power has been increased and will continue to grow until their skull burst. When Kara departed for the final showdown with Non, Max warned her that she might die.
Max has questionable traits and is unpredictable. After he lost his parents because their government employers did not listen when they tried to report a weakness in the safety system or when he warned them about a defect in their protective suits, Max has developed a strong hatred towards the government and promised that he would never allow someone to die if he had the opportunity to stop it, no matter at what cost. His twisted moral compass makes him extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory: despite being sincerely concerned for the good of his fellow citizens and the human race, he has no qualms about sacrificing 8% of National City's residents in order to save the rest or to use a comatose girl without family for his experiments; he proved to care for his employees to the point to be willing to sacrifice himself for them, but nevertheless he used one of them, Ethan Knox, as a human bomb for his purposes, despite having previously agreed with him over the whole plane and ensuring in return lifelong medical care for his sick daughter.
Despite his methods, Max believes to be right and to act for the good of all, he does not particularly trust the way Supergirl acts as he is deeply cynical and lack of trust in the other, but he has proven he can do the right choice and act in an almost heroic way. Max can also be extremely charming, to the point that even sophisticated and smart women such as Cat Grant and Alex Danvers have flirted with him, although he never really get close to anyone because of his questionable morality and arrogance.
It is strongly implied, and J'onn J'onzz has once noted, that Max has a god complex. Such an example includes having Bizarro address him as "My Lord". Alex shares this perception, describing Max as a "reformed nerd with a god complex."
- Genius-level intellect/Great business acumen/Expert tactician/Leader: Max is a very intelligent man, one who Non himself stated had mastered the technologies of Earth (Kryptonians themselves having 4th-level Intellect). He is an extremely cunning strategist and tactician, being the only person to figure out Non and Astra's plans ahead of time. Max is a successful businessman, as he managed to run Lord Technologies very successfully for an unknown number of years since he founded the company.
- Computer specialist: Max managed to broadcast Supergirl's speech from Cat Grant's first broadcasting station to every every screen in National City by piggybacking off of Myriad's signal.
- Master engineer: Max was able to successfully fix Reactron's armor in a few hours and built several sophisticated droids to study Supergirl. He also created a device that allowed Alex Danvers to venture inside Kara's mind while the latter was incapacitated by a Black Mercy and designed special earpieces to shield his and Cat's minds from Myriad.
- Master scientist: After seven trials, Max was able to eventually successfully create Bizarro, a clone of Supergirl with the same abilities, through a synthetic fluid. Max was almost successful in creating synthetic Green Kryptonite, which turned out to be Red Kryptonite. Working with Alex, Max was also able to create an antidote for the Red Kryptonite.
- Expert medic: Max graduated from medical school within a single year. He has knowledge in first aid, as shown when he identified the arteries of a nearly dead civilian during an earthquake in National City. Max also deduced from a glance that Reactron was suffering from radiation poisoning, listing his symptoms in detail.
- Skilled marksman/Firearms: Max is proficient in using guns, showing good aim while shooting at Non and his soldiers.
- Indomitable will: An extremely driven and determined person, Max constantly refuses to allow accidents or mishaps to interfere with his plans, regardless of severity; he stated that once he launched a revolutionary tablet mere hours after having survived an avalanche and even attended a CatCo Worldwide Media gala right after being rescued from Reactron.
- Max has a fondness of the Dr Pepper soft drink..
- Max initially served as 's CEO supervillain, but when the show was moved to another channel/filming location, the character was largely forgotten and written out as Max had largely redeemed himself by the first season finale, "".
- Max, Alex Danvers, Lillian Luthor, Lena Luthor, and Eve Teschmacher are so far the only humans known to be able to create Kryptonite.
Behind the scenes
- In DC Comics, Maxwell Lord made his debut in Justice League #1 (1987), as the businessman responsible for putting together the Justice League International. He was created by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire. The character was initially portrayed as an arrogant, although well-meaning heroic character, but was turned to a villain in later stories. Max was also a meta-human with the ability to control minds. He was eventually killed by Wonder Woman.