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MODOK’s Long Road to the MCU

Jan 16, 2023


The newest trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania teased the next epic chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the arrival of Kang the Conqueror. While the arrival of the next MCU big bad certainly got fans excited, it was a quick glimpse at another comic book villain that sent fans into a frenzy as the trailer offered the first look at MODOK. The giant floating head in a robot body might seem absurd even by comic book standards, but the character is a fan favorite that many have been waiting for to join the MCU since the release of the first Iron Man.

The character’s arrival in the MCU seemed inevitable, particularly after being made the primary villain in the 2020’s video game Marvel’s The Avengers. MODOK had been rumored for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania for some time and was first teased in the footage released at San Diego Comic-Con. While he is just now showing up, Marvel has had plans for the character for quite some time, and he almost made it into a few MCU projects before. Take a look at MODOK’s long road to finally joining the MCU and see what his arrival may mean for the future of the franchise.
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Comic Book History

Marvel Comics

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, MODOK made his first full appearance in Tales of Suspense #94 in 1967. The character was a scientist named George Tarleton who worked for A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics). He underwent an experiment to increase his intelligence which resulted in him developing an overdeveloped head and a stunted body, thus needing a hovercraft to move around in. He adopted the name MODOK, which stood for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

Related: Ant-Man 3: What to Know About the Villainous MODOK

MODOK was originally a villain of Captain America but later became of foe for heroes like Iron Man, The Hulk, Nick Fury, and The Avengers. He is often associated with A.I.M. and is the leader of the organization, and has worked with other high-profile Marvel villains including The Leader and Doctor Doom. He is a major player in the Marvel Universe and has generated a large fanbase among comic book fans due to his unique appearance.

The Early History and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

ABC StudiosMarvel

While one of the most absurd-looking villains in the Marvel roster, the character’s unique design and high-profile status among fans made him an ideal pick for adaptation. Before the MCU was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye, the character was the villain in one of the early drafts for Iron Man when it was being made over at 20th Century Fox before Marvel Studios got the rights back.

During the press for Captain America: The First Avenger, the film’s co-writer Christopher Markus teased he wanted to include MODOK in the sequel and wanted Peter Dinklage to play the part. MODOK did not appear in the film, but Dinklage later did join the MCU as Eitri in Avengers: Infinity War. MODOK made his first appearance in the now non-canon mobile game for Iron Man 3, which took place after the events of the film. This version was the brain scan of the film’s villain Aldrich Killian, merging the two characters while keeping MODOK’s comic book status as the head of AIM intact.

MODOK was set to make his official MCU debut in season five of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The character of Anton Ivanov, who was introduced in season four, was set to transform into MODOK in the series. However, Marvel later retracted the use of MODOK, but the creators of the series found a way around it.

Ivanov was transformed into a brain in a vat and took control of a series of identical Life Model Decoys, another classic Marvel troupe the series has implanted. These machines were dubbed Life-Model Decoys Designed Only For Killing, whose acronym spelled L-MODOK. It allowed them to have a version of MODOK in the series without it officially being MODOK. It did raise the question of why Marvel pulled access to the character. They would only do that if they had other plans for the character but the plans were not what anybody could have expected.

MODOK Get’s His Own Animated Series

Disney Platform Distribution

In February 2019, Marvel and Hulu announced a collaboration of four comedic series that would lead to a crossover called The Offenders (a riff on The Defenders, which was Marvel’s previous collaboration with Hulu’s biggest competitor Netflix). The four series announced were Hit-Monkey, Tigra & Dazler, Howard the Duck, and M.O.D.O.K. The series was created by Jordan Blum and comedian Patton Oswalt, who would also voice the title character.

Related: Does the MCU Phase 5 Have or Even Need a Big Villain?

In December 2019, Marvel Television was folded into Marvel Studios which took oversight of all Marvel productions. Howard the Duck and Tigra & Dazzler were canceled but M.O.D.O.K and Hit-Monkey still moved forward. M.O.D.O.K. premiered on Hulu on May 21, 2021, and was a stop-motion comedic take on the franchise, with MODOK not only losing control of A.I.M. but also his wife leaving him and having to mend his broken family unit. The series received positive reviews but due to being greenlit by the original heads of Marvel Television, the show was doomed from the start, as Marvel Studios had other plans for M.O.D.O.K. The series was quietly canceled in May 2022, one year after it premiered.

What Is MODOK’s Role in the MCU Now?

Marvel Studios

MODOK was one of the last big villains who had yet to make it into the MCU, and with the conclusion of The Infinity Saga, many expected MODOK to be one of the big primary villains for the franchise moving forward. MODOK has been rumored and linked to the previous two Ant-Man films, and it was confirmed the character would appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania but with a twist.

The trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania seems to confirm the theory that Corey Stoll, who played the villain Darren Cross in Ant-Man, is playing MODOK in the film. This implies that Darren Cross’ death in the first Ant-Man may have led him to be brought into the Quantum Realm, and he was saved/transformed by Kang the Conqueror. Similar to the idea of Aldrich Killian becoming MODOK in the Iron Man 3 game, the film mixes MODOK with another established Marvel villain.

It is currently unknown if MODOK will have a role beyond Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The character’s iconic status means he would be a great recurring antagonist for other projects. If he were to find his way out of the Quantum Realm, he certainly would be a great foe for upcoming films like Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts. Marvel Studios has killed off high-profile villains before like Wenwu and Ultron, though. MODOK might only appear in one Marvel film, or he might appear in several, but the fact that he is even appearing at all shows just how far the franchise has come.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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