MODOK Explained: Why is this character so important in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the future of Marvel?

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Rejoice fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 5 is almost here. With the arrival of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania on February 17, the next era of Marvel movies begins. The latest trailer for the film shows an epic battle between Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Kang the Conqueror (Jonathon Majors) after the hero and his family accidentally open a portal to the Quantum Realm… again. But although we already knew all that before this multiversal trailer, one thing that the new preview confirms is the arrival of one of Marvel’s wildest and most maniacal villains, MODOK (or MODOK if you want to get technical).

But, who is the giant floating head? What does your nickname mean? And why is the actor who plays him already familiar to us? Brace yourself, because an infinitely weird but satisfying journey through MODOK history awaits you.

The origins of MODOK

Like many of Marvel’s most inventive and amazing creations, MODOK came from the minds of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.. He is first mentioned in Tales of Suspense #93, when Captain America is captured by the evil organization known as the IMA on a rescue mission to find Agent 13. Although the government believed that the IMA had been disbanded, Captain discovered that they were still active under the leadership of the mysterious MODOK But it wasn’t until the next issue that readers really got to know the terrifying creation that our hero was revealed.

The immense mutated head cradled in a flying contraption is one of Kirby’s most striking visual creations. As he explains to Steve Rogers, MODOK was once a mere guinea pig for AIM scientists, but his experiments gave him immense power, turning his brain into something incredibly dangerous. Although he appeared to commit suicide at the end of the story, he would later return for revenge.

MODOK from Tales of Suspense #94
MODOK in Suspense Tales #94

It was during his reign as Captain America’s most fearsome foe that readers learned his true origin. Originally, George Tarleton was featured as a scientist the IMA chose for a test in their attempts to create the ultimate intelligence.. They were successful, but that was only good news for MODOK, who promptly killed his captors. Later, that origin would change and George would be reimagined as the son of an AIM scientist. But either way, AIM hurt him and he would spend his life making them and the superhero world that opposes them pay.

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oh and if you wonder what MODOK means, there are multiple answers. It began as a Mental Organism Designed Only to Kill. In its day it was recognized that its original name should be Mental Organism Only Designed for Computation. However, the MODOK name stuck, and during his tenure the M has also stood for Mechanized and Mobile.

MODOK Powers and Abilities

The experiments that George was subjected to were those that endowed him with a giant brain (hence his huge floating head), which gave rise to his impressive intelligence. His powers include an incredible capacity for deduction, perception and ability to solve the most difficult enigmas. But his colossal brain came with unexpected and deadly powers. MODOK is a man with very little patience and when it runs out he brings out his violent and deadly Mental Ray. By concentrating the energy of his brain he can create a powerful beam of catastrophic power that is incredibly destructive.

As if that were not enough, too He is telepathic and controls people’s minds.. He is also capable of creating force fields that make it difficult for his enemies to attack. Basically, he’s awesome.

MODOK Actor Corey Stoll and His Connections to the Marvel Universe

In another casting rumor that has now turned out to be true, Ant-Man’s Corey Stoll Returns to the MCU in Quantumania. But the actor who played villain Darren Cross won’t be back as Yellowjacket. Instead, he’ll take on the mammoth task of bringing Marvel’s most famous floating head to life. Stoll appears momentarily in the trailer, his face blown up to gigantic proportions. So is this simply a case of Marvel re-hiring an actor they really like for a new role (think Gemma Chan going from Captain Marvel to Eternals) or could something more to do with the role be at play? Canyon?

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If we go back to the last place we saw Yellowjacket being violently shrunk to subatomic size by the lead hero in the first movie, it all starts to come together. What if instead of making Stoll MODOK, the MCU is reimagining MODOK as an evolution of Darren Cross? When Ant-Man sabotaged Yellowjacket’s suit by flying into it, the stolen armor malfunctioned, crushing his limbs and shredding his body before disappearing.

Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket in Ant-Man 1
Corey Stoll como Darren Cross/Yellowjacket en Ant-Man

How did Yellowjacket survive? Well, the answer comes almost immediately afterwards, when Scott escapes the crushing weight of the imploding suit by venturing into the Quantum Realm. If Scott got it, why not Cross? And since we saw him mutilated by his torn suit, there’s a very real possibility that the transformation left him with just an oversized head. Then, I would have many reasons to hate Scott Lang. And since the trailer showed him in his floating suit in the Quantum Realm, there’s a chance he built it as well, none other than Kang.

Curiously, Quantumania seems to introduce a new look for MODOK, in addition to its classic aesthetic. In a brief shot we see him in golden battle armor that appears to have been designed to protect her face/brain. Could this be a Yellowjacket armor version of him?

MODOK on television and video games

  • TV: It’s understandable that MODOK has taken its time getting to live action, given that it looks very unusual and difficult to bring to life. But thanks to the iconic nature of the character, he’s been adapted into countless Marvel animated series over the years. He had a recurring role on the 1990s Iron Man cartoon and Iron Man: Armored Adventures. The latter was the first series to change its name from MODOK to MODOC It was a trend that would continue throughout his childhood television career. Over the years he appeared as a villain in many Marvel cartoons, such as the Super Heroes Squad Show, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel: Disk Wars, and Marvel’s Spider-Man. It wasn’t until the last few years that he got his own titular series thanks to Patton Oswalt’s animated parody on Hulu. Although it only lasted one season, it introduced the Marvel villain to a whole new audience.
  • Video game: Impressively, MODOK’s number of television credits (12 total) pales in comparison to his track record as a villain in Marvel games. This floating enemy has appeared in 20 video games, most notably as the final boss of Marvel’s Avengers. Other games in which you will have tried to defeat him are Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and Marvel Contest of Champions. So, basically, you will already have played with him or against him.
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What do you think of MODOK’s look in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania?