- "Denbigh: Take a look at the world… chaos… because people like you, paper-pushers and politicians, are too spineless to do what needs to be done so I made an alliance to place the power where it should be, and now you want to throw it away for the sake of democracy, whatever the hell that is. How predictably moronic. But then isn't that what M stands for… moron? (fires his pistol which clicks empty)
M: And now we know what C stands for… careless. (shows C a fistful of weapon shells)"
- ― Denbigh and M
Max Denbigh, also known as C, is the Director-General of the Joint Security Service, an organisation created via the merging of MI5 (the UK's domestic intelligence section) and MI6 (the UK's foreign intelligence section). This organisation operates out of the Centre for National Security, a building recently built opposite the ruins of the former MI6 building. It is revealed that Denbigh is actually a member of SPECTRE and the hidden secondary antagonist of the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre. He is portrayed by Irish actor Andrew Scott.
On his return to London from Mexico City, James Bond is indefinitely taken off field duty by the current M, who is in the midst of a power struggle with Denbigh, the head of the Joint Intelligence Service, which consists of the recently merged MI5 and MI6. C also wants to create the "Nine Eyes" intelligence co-operation agreement between nine countries, and close down the '00' section in the process.
While Bond is searching after information about the criminal organisation SPECTRE, Max Denbigh brings the launch of his program Nine Eyes to the vote before the delegates of the participating countries. However, the vote does not reach the needed majority because South Africa votes against the project. After the meeting, M dutifully but sarcastically tells Denbigh that the world is better off without Nine Eyes, claiming that an agent in the field would be more efficient because a license to kill can also be a license not to kill. Denbigh opens his computer, playing a recorded message from Bond telling Eve Moneypenny for get more informations about two of the main members of the SPECTRE : Mr. White and Franz Oberhauser. After playing the message, C states that M seems not to be able to control his own men. When M is shocked that Denbigh would monitor his own agents, the SPECTRE member replies that they are monitoring everyone.
After SPECTRE blows up a target in Cape Town, South Africa is ready to join the Nine Eyes program and C withholds information about the next vote from M, leading M to arrive after everything is set. M meets Denbigh after the conference, where C tells him that the '00' section is now officially disbanded, prompting M to call Denbigh a "cocky, little bastard". Stating that things are not over yet, M and Moneypenny leave a gloating Denbigh behind.
While being Oberhauser's prisoner at the latter's African base, Bond finds out that Denbigh is actually an agent of SPECTRE and is about to get SPECTRE access to the greatest surveillance system in the world. After escaping from the base and returning to London, Bond and Madeleine Swann meet M, Bill Tanner, Q and Moneypenny and plan to arrest C and stop the launch of Nine Eyes. En route they are ambushed and Bond is kidnapped. M and the others escape and proceed to wait for C in his office. When Denbigh arrives, he cannot activate the program as his access is denied. He then sees M, stating that he cannot believe that M is responsible for it. M replies that he isn't, but his quartermaster is. C tells M and Q that, given that they are out of job, are technically trespassing, but the head of the MI6 replies that C got it wrong and will instead be arrested. When asked by what charges, M says: "poor taste in friends", causing Denbigh to realise that the British Secret Service knows that he's with SPECTRE. While talking about that he only did what needed to be done, Denbigh draws a gun out of his desk and aims it at M, claiming that they now know that M stands for "moronic", but when he pulls the trigger nothing happens. M reveals that he emptied the magazine prior to Denbigh's arrival and responds that they now know what C stands for as well - careless.
Now Mallory is the one holding C at gunpoint and plans to bring him down the spiral staircase leading to the bottom of the building to have him incarcerated. However, he is momentarily disturbed by the arrival of a helicopter and C uses M's moment of nonobservance and goes for M's gun. In the ensuing struggle, Denbigh loses his balance and drops over the ledge of the platform, falling to his death several floors below. Tanner confirmed the death of Max Denbigh.
- In real life, "C" is the codename of the head of MI6. MI6 started as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau. Its first director was Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, who, often dropping the "Smith", used his initial "C" as his codename, which was also used by all subsequent directors of SIS. In the Bond universe, "C" is replaced by "M" whilst in the James Bond 007 universe, "C" is the Director-General of the Joint Security Service. The first director, shown in the 2015 film SPECTRE is Max Denbigh. C's office is located in the CNS (Centre for National Security).
Behind the scenes
An appropriate touch to C's death is that he fell to his demise, much like how Andrew Scott's infamous character of Moriarty in the BBC's television drama Sherlock made his adversary fall. He owed him a fall, afterall.