|Dark Angel character|
Jessica Alba as Max
|Last appearance||"Freak Nation"|
|Created by||James Cameron
Charles H. Eglee
|Portrayed by||Jessica Alba
Geneva Locke (child)
|Species||Genetically engineered super soldier, X5|
|Significant other(s)||Logan Cale|
Max Guevara (X5-452) is a fictional character and the protagonist of the cyberpunk science fiction television program Dark Angel. The series ran for two seasons, during which Max was portrayed by Jessica Alba; during flashbacks Geneva Locke portrays Max as a child. Max also appears in three novels based on the series as well as a video game adaptation. The character was created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee.
Max is a genetically enhanced transgenic supersoldier, created in a secret government lab known as Manticore. Along with 11 other children, Max escapes from the facility when she is 9-years-old. From that time, Max attempts to live a normal life while eluding recapture by Manticore. She also searchers for other escaped transgenics and attempts to do so with the help of Logan Cale, a cyber-journalist also known as "Eyes Only".
Creation and appearances
Following his success with the film Titanic, director James Cameron teamed up with Charles H. Eglee. The two formed a production company and began working on ideas for a television series, eventually deciding on the idea of Dark Angel. Cameron said they began with the idea that Max would be genetic construct who appeared normal but was different on a genetic level, saying "We explore what that could mean. Do her eyes look different? Where there things that manifest themselves? Were there negatives to it? We wanted her to have flaws, things that were built in – like Kryptonite." Max followed a long line of strong female characters showcased by Cameron, including Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley, with Cameron saying "it's a win/win situation" as "women respond to characters who appear strong and capable" and young male audiences "want to see girls kick ass". More than one thousand young actresses were considered for the part of Max before Jessica Alba was chosen.
Max plays the lead character in both seasons of the TV series Dark Angel, where she is portrayed primarily by Alba but also by Geneva Locke as a child in flashbacks. She appears in three original novels based on the series, two which pick up directly where the series ended and one that serves as a prequel novel, filling in the time between Max's escape from Manticore and the beginning of the first season. Max is also the playable character in the video game adaptation, Dark Angel, where she is voiced by Alba.
Max was genetically engineered and carried to term by a woman who was not permitted to meet her. She was created for a secret government supersoldier program called Manticore, then located in Gillette, Wyoming. As with almost all Manticore's soldiers, Max has a barcode on the back of her neck, with her identifying number sequence (332960073452). She is an X5 model and is thus referred to as X5-452. Designed to be the perfect soldier, Max is extremely strong, athletic and agile. She can see in the dark, can zoom in with her eyes to view distant objects, does not need to sleep and has a photographic memory. She also has enhanced hearing, can leap up or down from great heights with ease, can hold her breath underwater for extended periods and can dodge bullets with her super speed. Max lies, cheats and steals when she needs to and shows no remorse when doing so, though she is morally opposed to guns. Max rides a Kawasaki Ninja. When she wants to be alone she sits atop of the derelict Space Needle.
Max has a genetic flaw that causes her to have seizures, and must take tryptophan to help control them. The seizures played a subplot early in the first season though the issue "went away as the series progressed." As a side-effect of having cat DNA, in the first season Max goes into heat twice, though as with the seizures the issue did not re-appear in the second season. In the second season it is revealed that Max has no junk DNA; every one of her DNA sequences has a specific purpose.
In 2009 twelve of the X5s, including 9-year-old Max, escape from Manticore into a snowy forest. Max is found and given shelter by Hannah, a sympathetic Manticore nurse. Several months later terrorists detonate an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the atmosphere over the US, destroying all electronic devices in the country and throwing it into chaos and poverty. In the prequel novel, Dark Angel: Before the Dawn, after escaping Manticore Max makes her way to Casper, Wyoming, where she met Lucy Barrett, a little girl who helped Max stow away in her mother's SUV. Later, after arriving in Los Angeles, California, Lucy's mother, Joann, agreed to let Max live with them. Max and Lucy endured physical and emotional abuse from Lucy's alcoholic father, Jack. Max runs away from her foster home in 2013 and heads to Hollywood, where she joins the Chinese Clan, a group of thieves taking refuge in the remains of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. In 2019, Max left Los Angeles to search for one of her Manticore siblings in Seattle, Washington. While stopping in Eureka, California, Max meets "Original Cindy" McEachin when she comes to McEachin's aid in a bar fight, and the two of them traveled to Seattle together. In Seattle, the duo meet Kendra Maibaum, a young woman who offers Max a place to stay after Max defends her from her boss who was sexually harassing her. McEachin and Maibuam featured as regular characters in the TV series.
The TV series begins with Max, now 19, living in a post-apocalyptic Seattle. She lives in fear of Colonel Donald Lydecker, who had been assigned by Manticore to capture Max and the other escapees. Max holds a job as a bicycle messenger for the company "Jam Pony X – Press", and also operates at night as a burglar, saying "I steal things in order to sell them for money. It's called commerce." Max is caught by Logan Cale, a vigilante cyber journalist who uses the alias Eyes Only, while she is attempting to burglarize him. Cale notices and recognizes Max's barcode, and offers to help her locate her Manticore brothers and sisters if she agrees to team up with him. Max initially refuses though changes her mind after Cale is rendered a paraplegic after he attempts a mission without her assistance. Max spends season one "jugg[ling] 'Eyes Only' missions" and "searching for her Manticore brothers and sisters." A complicated romantic interest develops between Max and Cale.
Near the end of the season, Lydecker is betrayed by his superior, Elizabeth Renfro, and subsequently defects from Manticore. He aids Max in an assault on the Manticore headquarters, though Max is badly wounded and captured. In season two Logan exposes Manticore to the world, and Renfro torches the facility in an attempt to cover up the evidence, though she is killed in the process. Max escapes the facility and frees hundreds of other super soldiers and failed Manticore experiments. Lydecker disappears under mysterious circumstances. National Security Agency agent Ames White, who is also a member of a secretive cult that wishes to eliminate transgenics, is tasked with recapturing the Manticore escapees. Both the authorities and cult members pursue Max, though she escapes to Terminal City, an abandoned part of Seattle where hundreds of outcast transgenics have been hiding. When the police begin to surround Terminal City, Max convinces the other transgenics to stand their ground rather than run. The second and final season ends with the military surrounding and possibly preparing to invade Terminal City.
The novel Dark Angel: Skin Game picks up where season two ends. Reports of a transgenic serial killer in Seattle are exacerbating the stand-off at Terminal City. Max uncovers that the killer's psychosis was caused by him unwillingly being given a psychoactive drug by White. A truce develops between transgenics and the authorities after Max publicly reveals the information, and White goes into hiding. The final novel, Dark Angel: After the Dark, picks up where the previous novel ends. Logan is kidnapped by the cult, who are trying to provoke Max into attacking them. Max eventually leads an assault on the cult's headquarters, which frees Logan and results in White's death and the compound being set on fire. As the headquarters burn Max finds Lydecker in a prison cell, and he promises to help her find her mother if she saves him, to which she agrees. The book ends with Logan and Max finally consummating their relationship.
In October 2000 Howard Rosenberg commented "If pouty faces and sexy walks could destroy, the highly arresting Max would be wiping out the entire planet. It's actually quite moving. And she looks great on her bike." Hal Boedeker from the Orlando Sentinel said "Television's newest warrior woman possesses skills worthy of Catwoman, Xena, Emma Peel and Wonder Woman". Conversely Joyce Millman said "Cameron and Eglee give us very little incentive to care about Max as a person, the way we care about Buffy or Faith. And that's because Max is little more than lips and ass and a premise reminiscent of other, better shows".
In December 2000 People listed Alba's portrayal of Max as among the "breakthrough" performances of 2000. Time said Alba "has the grace and moves needed for all that running, repelling and cat burgling, but with an emotional range unusual among action babes. Alba was nominated for several awards for her portrayal of Max, and won "Best Actress on Television" at the 27th Saturn Awards, "Breakout Star of the Year" at the TV Guide Awards, "Outstanding Actress in a New Television Series" at the ALMA Awards and "Choice Actress" at the 2001 Teen Choice Awards.
In 2004 Max was ranked at No. 17 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends". In 2012 Dave Golder from GamesRadar ranked Max at No. 49 on his list of the 100 sexiest women in sci-fi.
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