Corey Stoll on MODOK Becoming “The Multiverse’s Ass”
Feb 25, 2023
Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.
I never thought the day would come when I’d be writing about MODOK’s butt in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but here we are!
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania introduces the Mechanized Organism Designed Only For Killing into the MCU with a bit of a twist. The MCU’s version of the character is actually Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross, aka Yellowjacket, from the first Ant-Man movie. At the end of the 2015 film, in order to stop Darren and save his daughter, Scott must go subatomic to sabotage the Yellowjacket suit. While it appeared as though that action flat-out killed Darren, it actually trapped him in the Quantum Realm where Kang (Jonathan Majors) turned him into MODOK.
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By bringing Darren back to the franchise, director Peyton Reed has given us an unforgettable looking character, a staggeringly effective performance from Stoll, and, of course, an unexpected peek at MODOK’s bare bottom.
With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania playing in theaters nationwide, I got the chance to chat with Stoll about his experience bringing Darren back to the MCU and that conversation included a burning question; is Captain America’s ass still America’s ass, or should we consider MODOK? Read about that and loads more in the interview below.
Image Via Disney
How were you first told about your return to the MCU and what was your very first reaction to their idea for bringing Darren back?
COREY STOLL: I think Peyton [Reed] thought he had to sell me on it. I wasn’t waiting. I wasn’t expecting to come back. And I got a call saying that Peyton wanted to talk to me about coming back, and maybe transformed in some way. They didn’t really have very good information. Or obviously, Marvel was being very secretive. And so while I was waiting for that call I was like, “What? How could I come back? What’s going on? Am I playing a different character? Is it some multiverse thing? Am I the new Iron Man?”
And then I finally talked to him and he said, “Do you know this character MODOK?” [Laughs] I was like, “Yes. You mean the guy with the big head?” They hadn’t written the script yet. They wanted to make sure that I was on board before they did that. I mean, of course I’m gonna do that. It’s terrifying to be such a ridiculous character, but of course. All the scariest parts are the ones that you should do. So yeah, I was 100% on board. It was very exciting.
Just curious, between the last film and this one, had they ever brought up any other option to bring Darren back or was this the first time you were reached out to?
STOLL: It was the first time I had any contact with it. There was this funny interaction with Kevin Feige on the red carpet for the original movie, and he said, “You know, I saw you walking in my neighborhood in L.A. yesterday and I realized how we could bring you back.” And then he got swept away by press and I had to continue going down the red carpet, and I was like, “Cool!” And then we never got to finish that conversation. So I don’t know if this was what he had in mind or not.
Image via Disney
So you first hear about Darren returning as MODOK, when that was initially pitched to you what did you picture it looking like and how did that compare to what we get in the final film?
STOLL: I’m really not quite sure. I don’t think I thought it would look so exactly like — I didn’t think my head was gonna be that big. [Laughs] I don’t know. I don’t know what I thought! I really don’t know what I thought. I just thought it was gonna be crazy. It’s never easy for me to watch myself on camera to begin with, but to see my face all distorted and warped, it’s a particularly odd experience.
To the delight of millions though!
Can you walk us through the different types of performance work you have to do for a role like this?
STOLL: It was a really, really fun process. It felt, in some ways, sort of like a hybrid between theater and film where I was there right before they started filming. They put the dots on my face and the performance capture camera, and we just sat around tables going through every scene. I was there with all the other actors, and we would go through it [a few] times and it was all being captured the whole time. And then we’d get up on our feet and we’d sort of — obviously I can’t move like MODOK can move. I actually wore a neck brace for a while just to get that feeling of not having a neck and just sort of having to move my whole body to look at different things. We just experimented and played for a couple of days, and it was really fun.
Your tone throughout the movie is pitch-perfect. Given the fact that you were able to play a bit, is there any particular scene, or maybe even a single line, that you found yourself playing with the most in order to nail the right tone?
STOLL: Well, I mean, the death scene. It was funny because we were all laughing a lot because it’s so ridiculous, but it’s still a death scene and we still had to play it for real, to some extent. I think in Darren’s mind this is the end of Hamlet and he’s saying goodbye to Horatio. And obviously, from the outside, he’s this grotesque fool.
Image via Marvel Studios
What about the “don’t be a dick” conversation? That scene starts with you ready to rage on and continue the fight, but then you end in this sad, remorseful place. What was it like going on that arc with him in a single scene?
STOLL: It’s great. One of the great things about just being a sort of disembodied head is it gives you license to turn on a dime. It’s a mask and so you can just go in any direction and it all sort of works.
Do you think he could have had that conversation in a way that sparked change in him with anybody other than Cassie or was Cassie the only one who could make him turn like that?
STOLL: Yeah, I think so. There’s something sort of disarming about Cassie because Cassie, more than anybody, has the right to really hate him and to want to just seek revenge, and the fact that she doesn’t, the fact that she holds her punch, and the fact that he still thinks of her as this little girl, I think it sort of wakes him out of his slumber because that was definitely — he was about to commit his greatest crime when he was threatening to kill her at the end of the first movie and so I think she was the one to snap him out a little bit.
With that in mind, had he survived, do you think that change would have stuck? Would he have gone down a better path?
STOLL: You know, I think it would be a process. [Laughs] I think long habits die hard. He’s a very sensitive guy and he’s very insecure. I think Darren was really just seeking love and approval the whole time, and he finally got it. Whether he could maintain that sense of self-esteem going forward, it could be a process.
I’ve saved my most important question for last. Is Captain America’s ass still America’s ass, or maybe should we consider MODOK?
STOLL: Well, if Captain America is just America’s ass, MODOK is the multiverse’s ass.
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