Max Steel (2000 TV series)
|Developed by||Greg Weisman
Debi Mae West
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||35 (+ 9 films and 37 "Turbo Missions" episodes) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Richard Raynis
Marsha F. Griffin
|Running time||23 Minutes|
|Production company(s)||Columbia TriStar Television
Netter Digital Animation
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television Mainframe Entertainment (Season 3)|
|Original network||Kids WB (seasons 1 and 2) Cartoon Network (season 3)|
|Original release||February 25, 2000– January 15, 2002|
|Related shows||Max Steel (2013), Max Steel (2016)|
Max Steel is a science fiction–action, CGI, animated series which originally aired from February 25, 2000 to January 15, 2002, based on the Mattel action-figure of the same name. Max Steel ran for three seasons, totaling thirty-five episodes with a predicted audience of young males from the ages of eight to twelve. From 2004-2012, direct-to-DVD movies kept the presence of the main character alive. However, the first movie (titled, "Endangered Species") was the only movie to keep the continuity of the series. After Endangered Species, the continuity was altered. "Endangered Species" was the only movie to be made available in America, while later releases were in Latin America. The voice-acting cast for the series included such people as Chi McBride and Christian Campbell, the older brother of Neve Campbell, as well as well-known sports stars, such as Tony Hawk.
After the bankruptcy of Netter Digital and Foundation Imaging, Mainframe Entertainment took over the productions of the third season and the movies. The last episode, "Truth Be Told", aired January 15, 2002. Max Steel was the first computer-generated series to air on Kids' WB.
The protagonist, Josh McGrath (Campbell), is a 19-year-old fictional extreme sports teen star, whose parents died some time ago. He was later adopted by his father's best friend and partner, Jefferson Smith (McBride), who works in an extreme sports equipment manufacturing company which is in reality a façade for a secret counter-intelligence agency known as N-Tek.
While Josh was visiting his stepfather at work, Psycho (Szarabajka) broke into the facility. The young McGrath faced him and battled against this super-powered cyborg, but in the middle of the fight, he was severely injured and exposed to a swarm of microscopic nanomachines, known to the company as "Nano-Tech Max." The nanomachines entered Josh's body and, as they ran out of energy, started dying, causing Josh to die too. In order to save Josh's life, his foster father, Jefferson Smith, agrees to submit Josh to a high proportion of the transphasic energy (nicknamed "t-juice"), which the machines need to survive. This saves his life and also gives him superpowers. As a result, Josh takes on the identity of Max Steel and fights against super-powered villains, mainly Mr. Dread (Jarvis), Psycho's evil boss, and the members of DREAD, his spy organization. Later, in the movies, they fight off mutants, robots, mad scientists and monsters.
N-Tek and Civilians
- Max Steel alias Josh McGrath (voiced by Christian Campbell from 2000–2008, Matthew Kaminsky in two episodes in 2001) - As Josh McGrath, he is a college student and an extreme sports star, working for his adoptive father, Jefferson Smith of N-Tek; which supplies such equipment. He later discovers that N-Tek is a front for a secret anti-terrorist organization. In the course of this discovery, he suffered an accident when he was doused with Nanoprobes while battling Psycho. These probes gave him the enhanced senses, ability to alter his appearance, turn invisible (dubbed, "Stealth mode!") and become superhumanly-strong, agile, and fast (dubbed, "Going turbo!"), and to heal faster than a normal human being, but due to them integrating with his organic systems, he requires periodic doses of transphasic energy to survive or the probes will essentially starve to death and kill him. He uses this to take on the appearance of Max Steel, who looks very different from Josh McGrath, and join the fight against crime. His work in extremes sports and as a crime-buster often conflicts with college and his relationship with his girlfriend Laura Chen. As Josh, he has brown eyes and blonde hair. As Max, he has blue eyes and brown hair.
- Molly McGrath - Josh's mother died when he was just a toddler, in a shipwreck during a storm at sea while the family was on a pleasure trip. Molly makes a brief appearance without dialogue only once when the incident is mentioned in the episode "Sharks": Max is being haunted by her death, and, despite being only a toddler when she died, blames himself for her death. After this, she's never mentioned again. Besides being a lovely mother, there's no other information about her.
- Jefferson Smith (voiced by Chi McBride from 2000–2002, Scott McNeil in “Endangered Species”) - The CEO of N-Tek, both the sports and spy sides. He inherited this position from Marco Nathanson, the previous and first CEO of N-Tek. He is the adoptive father of Max after his father died. Being an international counter-terrorism agency, N-Tek answers to the UN and includes a number of other non-US citizens on its staff. He voices his displeasure when Max is put in harms way, but ultimately lets him go, knowing that Max is stronger than any human, and will be able to defeat enemies easier than others. His relationship with Max is strained, but the two ultimately make amends.
- Dr. Roberto Martinez (voiced by Jacob Vargas from 2000–2002, Alessandro Juliani in “Endangered Species”) - A technical genius in his late teen years. Best known as 'Berto (a diminutive of his name), he is the main expert on Nano-Tek Max, the microscopic machines which gave Max Steel his superhuman abilities. 'Berto is usually based at the HQ of the secret intelligence service N-Tek where he monitors Max's missions via a computer screen, but he also often takes a more active part in the missions himself. He has family in Colombia, although how many relatives is unknown. From the moment they met, he and Josh became very close: Josh would call Roberto "Bro", who would respond with the Spanish version, "Hermano".
- Rachel Leeds (voiced by Shannon Kenny from 2000-2001) - Max's first partner at N-Tek. Although her country of origin is not specified, her accent indicates that she may be a British national. Rachel has a rather bossy personality but is very attractive in her own way. Much of season 1 focused on her relationship with Max: from one of constant squabbling to increasing attraction on his part, which affected Josh's relationship with his girlfriend Laura Chen. At one stage Rachel did kiss Max as a way of calming him down when he was getting particularly agitated, but seemed to think that he ought to stick to Laura: one episode concludes with Rachel smiling and saying "Blessings on your union" in Chinese as Josh and Laura leave arm-in-arm. After the second series, Rachel was promoted and disappeared after three episodes. There is speculation that she has a brief, non-speaking appearance in season two, episode four, but it is also likely that it was just a reused model. She can normally handle herself in a fight even against multiple opponents bare handed, hence the reason why she was assigned to train and tutor Max as a new N-Tek Agent.
- Kat Ryan (voiced by Debi Mae West from 2000–2002, Meghan Black in “Endangered Species”) - After Rachel's promotion in season two, Kat, another of her protégés, became Max's new partner. At first they didn't get along, but, after Jefferson Smith forced them to work together, they developed a little mutual respect. About the same age as Josh and Roberto, her relationship with the two boys is like that of a sister, much like how Josh and 'Berto see each other as brothers. Kat was never given a surname until season three, and it was revealed in the second-to-last episode that, when she was younger, she was part of a street gang and did "very bad stuff." She did time in a juvenile detention center, and has since changed her ways.
- Laura Chen and Pete Costas (voiced by Lauren Tom and Thomas F. Wilson) - Two of Josh's college friends, Pete referring to themselves as "the Three Musketeers" given that they used to be very close, until Josh's life as Max Steel started to interfere. Laura Chen was Josh's girlfriend but she soon broke up with him due in part to his increasingly close relationship with Rachel Leeds. He also kept his activities as Max Steel a secret from her and this would affect dates and other commitments which made him somewhat unreliable. Pete, in the season two premiere, found out about Josh's dual identity after being captured by John Dread and agreed to keep it secret. He was not seen in season 3.
- Jean Mairot (voiced by Keith Szarabajka) - Smith's second-in-command at N-Tek in season one and head of operations, briefing agents on their missions and coordinating their progress. A soft-spoken man, he is cool and calculating and a good judge of character — putting Max in charge of a major rescue operation even though the boy himself did not feel up to it. At the end of season one, Mairot turned out to be a spy working for villain John Dread, N-Tek mainly winning because Dread kept underestimating Max. His fate is unknown, though it is presumed that he was caught in the explosion of Dread's base. His treachery was a bitter blow to the N-Tek staff since he had been a popular figure. Season 1 story editor Greg Weisman has stated that Mairot was actually on N-Tek's side and in the final episode of Season 1, was going undercover into Dread's organization on Jefferson Smith's orders. Weisman also stated that Mairot did survive the explosion of Dread's base. Weisman was not involved in Season 2, and thus this storyline was never revealed in an actual episode. Mairot spoke in a French accent.
- Charles "Chuck" Marshak (voiced by Edward Asner) - An N-Tek division chief who's in charge of Behemoth, the massive flying fortress used as a mobile base to support Max in the TV series. He's a senior, probably around 60 years old, who assists N-Tek with his expertise. He was a close friend of Big Jim and acts a bit fatherly with Max. Despite his age and butler-like appearance, he can move extremely fast, and is an experienced hand-to-hand combatant. He does not appear in season 2 or 3, with no explanation of where he went.
- Jake Nez (voiced by Gregg Rainwater) - N-Tek agent and astronaut, formerly from NASA. He was also once a love interest of Rachel's but was dumped by her when she started training Max. He does not come across as the jealous type, ably assisting Max and Rachel on missions.
- John Dread (voiced by Martin Jarvis) - The leader of the DREAD organization, and the main antagonist of the first and second seasons (even after his supposed death). He's rarely seen outside of offices and rooms in dark secluded buildings, and only made two known appearances where he was the main or part of a main threat. He's presumably killed in the season 1 finale (S1E13 - "Shattered") when his airship crashes, but it's revealed in the season 2 premiere (S2E1 - "The Return") that he survived. He takes Pete Costas hostage and forces Max to steal valuable N-Tek research. He's later arrested and held in a maximum security prison. During the season 2 finale (S2E13 - "Breakout"), Psycho and Bio-Con break him out while he is being transferred to another prison. It is believed he was killed off later in the same episode, but no body was found. There is fandom speculation that John Dread and Marco Nathanson (the N-Tek founder) are the same person, although this has been debunked by the first season story editor Greg Weisman.
- Psycho (voiced by Keith Szarabajka) - His real name is unknown, although his nickname/DREAD code-name is speculated to come from the fact that he appears to be a psychopath. He's often called "Smiley", mainly by Max but occasionally by other members of N-Tek. He ignores it when Max refers to him as smiley, but usually has very violent reactions when other members of DREAD address him with that nickname. He has a metallic face which looks like the human skull, with an unusually large smiling jaw (hence the reason of his nickname). In the first season, Psycho covers up his metallic face with a mask, which gives him the appearance of a normal tough white guy. His main weapon is his right bionic arm, which can change into a claw or a laser gun, presumably by nerve signals. In “Endangered Species,” Psycho also has a Psycho-droid, which looks almost exactly like him, except the droid is a silver or copper color. He features the same bionic arm as Psycho and has a self-destruct system, which Psycho ultimately uses to kill Bio-Con.
- L'Etranger (voiced by John de Lancie) - "The Stranger," as his name translates from French into English. He wears a mask over his face, which appears to resemble a metal skull (similar to that-of Psycho), with little facial details, and was the first villain to appear in the TV show. At the end of said episode, Dread mentions that he is not a full-time member of his organization. By the time of his second appearance, he is said to no longer work for Dread. He is a mercenary terrorist armed with electrical charged gloves which can produce an explosive spark. Being an electrical weapon, one hit is more than enough to stun his enemies for a large period of time. It appears that he drowned in the episode "Fun in the Sun" (S2E2).
- Dragonelle (voiced by Mia Korf) - She is the first major female villain shown. The origin of her code-name is unclear, although there is speculation that she comes from China (as that is where the episode which she appeared in for the first time took place). As dragons are a key part of Chinese mythology, it is believed that she took this name for good luck. She's dressed in golden battle armor, and has the ability to perfectly mimic the actions and appearance of any person she has seen. She's not much of a fighter, as she always runs away from any physical confrontation, since she's more an undercover agent than an active fighter. Nevertheless, she fights off both Max and 'Berto in the episode "Shooting Stars" (S2E8).
- Vitriol - According to Max, Vitriol is "not the sharpest tool in the shed," which explains why he often teams along with Psycho. While they are supposed to be equal members of DREAD, Vitriol usually follows Psycho's orders. His arms are vibrant, translucent green with metallic 'bones' visible, and can shoot green energy beams, which can be very destructive. At the end of season one, he realizes he's an expendable pawn, and decides to cooperate with N-Tek in an effort to obtain a reduced sentence. However, in Season 2, he would return to old habits, and go against N-Tek several times. In Season 3, he is seen several times as the main enemy.
- Woody Barkowski and Annabelle Barkowski/Electrix - Two siblings who are intent on bringing down N-Tek: Woody because he believes that they gave him a faulty mountain bike to cause him to break his leg and thus retire from the extreme sports world. Woody considers himself to be Max Steel's nemesis, but Max mentions that he "barely qualifies as comic relief." Annabelle collaborates with her brother in the first season and seeks revenge for her brother in the second season. In season two, Annabelle suffers an accident in her laboratory and her body is never found. It is later revealed that Annabelle's body using electrical currents and sources as an energy supply, much like how the nanoprobes in Max's body uses transphasic energy. She adopts the name as Electrix and has several robots to act as her reinforcements.
- Bio-Constrictor (voiced by René Auberjonois) - His full name is "Biologically Altered Constricting Serpent", having been given this name by 'Berto. He is usually addressed as "Bio-Con" or "Bio-Constrictor" in the series and movies. Dr. Klimo was involved in an accident what is thought to be injected with electrified snake venom, and thus mutated into a half-human, half reptile with the abilities to turn into a snake, poison people with highly-toxic venom or use his venom to transform other people into copies of his mutated self. Bio-Con looks more like a leather mummy than a snake, mostly because his body is composed of several serpents twisted around what seems to be his base skeleton. Before his accident, he was an employee fired for erratic behavior, mainly due to the use of turning poisonous animals, such as scorpions and snakes, into biological weapons, which appears to form a basis of the plotline of the Endangered Species movie. Towards the end of Endangered Species, Psycho betrays him, and kills him with a self-destructing android. He initially met Josh when he was younger, and they used to play baseball together.
- Lance Breamer - He considers himself the "King of the sky." Angered by those who feel his ideas are too expensive or too impractical, Lance creates a massive airplane called, "The Javelin." Lance uses this to steal aircraft out of the sky, using fog exhibitors to conceal the plane, and knockout gas to wipeout a part of the pilot's short-term memory. After N-Tek use their plane, the Behemoth, as bait, Lance manages to abduct the plane with 'Berto inside. He takes a liking to 'Berto, and attempts to have 'Berto join him. After 'Berto refuses to destroy a plane, Lance lashes out, firing the Javelin's lasers at innocent bystanders. Shortly thereafter, Max boards the Javelin. Lance fights Max, but is knocked out and presumably arrested.
- Hernando Carreras - The leader of the so-called pirates in Baja and he only appears in the episode Swashbucklers. He has a mechanical eye under his eyepatch which can shoot lasers and his men use laser swords. He plans to use an earthquake machine to find the buried treasure so that they'll be rich.
- Bret Grimsley - Grimsley is the sports manager for athletes Brian Durham and Danny Preston. Grimsley uses Brian and Danny to steal high-end computer chips, promising they'll be the best. The computer chips, when attached to the head of a person, can push their body to the extreme. It is extremely dangerous, and have the potential to kill Brian or Danny. Grimsley doesn't care about this, only thinking of profits and being number 1. Max catches Brian and Danny, and they confess, leaving Grimsley behind bars. Grimsley is thought to be seen numerous times in season 3 as a henchman, however, it possible that it was only a reused model.
- Clark Ashworth - Clark is an egotistical, megalomaniac who takes his former coworkers hostage after he is fired from his job in Washington, D.C.. While holding them hostage, he steals his "prized creation"; The Disruptor. The Disruptor has the equivalent of 50 sticks of dynamite each time it is fired, as well as unlimited firing capabilities. Clark created this, as well as the security system for the building he is holding his former coworkers hostage in, making it difficult for Max and Kat to save the hostages and stop Clark. After Max and Clark struggle, he escapes the building, and heads towards the Washington monument, in an attempt to fire the Disruptor and destroy the White House. Max stops him, and he is arrested. He is known for using the term, "Dude" quite frequently, and Max states he looks more like a surfer than a terrorist.
- Richard Shine - Shine is a sports park owner, and is extremely obsessed with Kat. He attempts to destroy his own sports park to make millions, and later kidnaps Kat after she is injured in an explosion he caused. Max is almost blown up by one of Shine's bombs in an apartment, but Max escapes with the bomb and tosses it into the ocean before it goes off. Max and 'Berto track down one of Shine's mansions, and rescue Kat. Shine attempts to stop them with his henchmen, but they are all taken down and arrested.
- Serge De La Rouge - Serge is a car racer who holds a grudge against athlete Jeremy McGrath because he lost to him in the last Sahara Race: A race across the Sahara Desert where any type of vehicle goes. Serge plants a bomb in his own car, kidnaps Jeremy during the race, and attempts to kill Jeremy as well as the judges who overruled his protests that the last part of the race favored super cross bikers. Max, Kat, and 'Berto manage to stop and arrest Serge before anyone is harmed.
- Chang - Chang is an expert in martial arts and leader of the chinese Cyber Dragon Tong.
- Dexter - He kidnapped and brainwashed Scott to kill Montgomery. Max and Kat manage to stop him and arrested him.
Max Steel debuted on Kids WB with the episode "Strangers" on February 25, 2000. And ended with episode "Truth Be Told" on January 15, 2002. The show ran for three seasons, totaling 35 episodes.
The series can be found on DVD: Volume one contains episodes 1-6, Volume 2 contains episodes 7-13, and the final one is a box-set with all of season one. Seasons 2 and 3 were never released. VHS ones were made available with various "Max Steel" action figures: "Strangers," "Snow Blind," "Sphinxes," and "Old Friend, New Enemy" were sold.
As of 2009, episodes of Max Steel can be found on Crackle's YouTube account, however, these are no longer accessible. Transmitted ONTV series Max Steel for a predetermined time. In 2014, Tiin transmitted the series.
Principal voice actors
- Edward Asner - Charles "Chuck" Marshak
- Christian Campbell - Max Steel/Josh McGrath (2000–2001)
- Martin Jarvis - John Dread
- Matthew Kaminsky - Max Steel/Josh McGrath (2001, episodes "Prey" and "Fan Appreciation")
- Shannon Kenny - Rachel Leeds
- Mia Korf - Dragonelle
- John de Lancie - L'Etranger
- Chi McBride - Jefferson Smith
- Keith Szarabajka - Jean Mairot, Psycho
- Jacob Vargas - Dr. Roberto Martinez
- Debi Mae West - Kat Ryan
- Thom Adcox-Hernandez
- Carlos Alazraqui
- Edward Albert
- Obba Babatundé
- Jeff Bennett
- Earl Boen
- Robert Cait
- Cam Clarke
- Jessi Corti
- Jim Cummings
- David DeLuise
- Tate Donovan
- Jessica Gee
- Jean Gilpin
- Michael Gough - Grimsley
- Tony Hawk - Himself
- Matt Hoffman - Himself
- Sherman Howard
- Charity James
- Dublin James
- Tony Jay
- Clyde Kusatsu
- Joe Lala
- Jason Marsden
- Jeremy McGrath - Himself
- Candi Milo
- Yuji Okumoto
- August Paro
- Gregg Rainwater - Jake Nez
- Kevin Michael Richardson
- Mark Rolston
- Rino Romano
- Pete Sepenuk
- James Sie
- Cynthia Songé
- Tara Strong
- Michael T. Weiss
Series ending and continuity
After the official ending of the original series, due to the success of the action figure in Latin America, but the lack of response from United States market, Mattel removed Max Steel from the American market and focused on foreign markets only. As a result, after two years of absence, in partnership by Mattel, Sony Family Pictures Entertainment and Mainframe Entertainment (now Rainmaker Animation) continued with the animated adventures of Max Steel as a series of Direct to DVD movies and a collection of 1 minute video clips. Each movie or clip usually presents Max challenging one of his enemies, and was used initially as a way to keep the presence of Max on TV, but eventually became a way to promote a series of new toys.
After their initial release on TV, the movies were included as bonus gifts in many Max Steel toys or rewards for other activities related to the toy series. Most of the TV ads were grouped under the name of Turbo Missions.
In January 2012, it was reported Mattel and Freemantle Media were working on a new television series and reboot of the "Max Steel" television series, which will still retain the name, but feature different characters, villains, and an entirely new storyline. This time, the show follows 16-year-old Tachyon-Human Hybrid named Maxwell "Max" McGrath and his alien "Ultralink" partner, Steel. Maxwell McGrath learns he has the power to generate "TURBO energy", which he struggles to contain until meeting Steel. Steel gives Maxwell the ability to harness his power while merging his own to create one unified super force. The action adventure series was launched in March 1, 2013 to audiences on Cartoon Network channels throughout Latin America, including Mexico, Brazil, Perú and Argentina. On October 5, 2012, it was confirmed that the series will air on Disney XD in the United States. "Max Steel" premiered Monday, March 25, 2013.
- "Mattel Press Releases". Manbehindthedoll.com. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Paramount and Mattel to Reanimate MAX STEEL as a Feature Film". Collider. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
- "Er is iets misgegaan.". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
- Por Luis Beltran Romero. "Max Steel: Cartoon Network estrena el reboot en Marzo - Anime, Manga y TV". Anmtvla.com. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- Arrant, Chris (2012-10-05). "Teen Action-Hero "Max Steel" Makes Global Series Debut". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "Disney XD Acquires new CG "Max Steel" Series for 2013". BSCkids. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "Max Steel | Disney XD". Disneyxd.disney.com. Retrieved 2013-09-05.