Who Is Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. and What Part Will He Play in ANT-MAN 3 and the MCU? - Nerdist
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Who Is Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. and What Part Will He Play in ANT-MAN 3 and the MCU?

M.O.D.O.K. is a classic Marvel Comics villain, created by the legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The memorable-looking bad guy with the ridiculous acronym of a name has been a staple of Marvel stories for over fifty years, and he’ll soon appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But who or what is M.O.D.O.K, and what does the comic book history of this over-the-top villain have to tell us about his MCU future?

Who Is Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.?

A very angry M.O.D.O.K. in modern Marvel Comics.
Marvel Comics
M.O.D.O.K. in Marvel’s Comics

M.O.D.O.K. first appeared in 1967’s Tales of Suspense #93. In his first origin story, M.O.D.O.K. started out as put-upon George Tarleton, a scientist working for Marvel’s criminal organization Advanced Idea Mechanics, or A.I.M. (Think of them as a low-rent Hydra). George’s father, Alvin, created the organization, starting them out as high-tech arms dealers. A.I.M. scientists eventually used advanced mutagenic science to transform Tarleton, who was their guinea pig. Those scientists came to regret this decision.

The origin of M.O.D.O.K. in the Silver Age of Marvel Comics.
Marvel Comics
What Does M.O.D.O.K. Stand For in Marvel’s World?

By upgrading George Tarleton’s brain to inhuman levels, A.I.M created M.O.D.O.C., an acronym for “Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing.” M.O.D.O.K.’s brain was capable of “enhanced intuition, pattern solving, information storage/retrieval, and logical/philosophical structuring.” In short, he was smarter than everyone else on the planet. Thanks to his super brain, Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. could predict probable outcomes to specific tactical scenarios. A perfect tool for world-conquering.

M.O.D.O.K. and the alien villain Deathbird team up.
Marvel Comics

Once transformed, however, the A.I.M. scientists simply could not control M.O.D.O.C. He slaughtered his creators and took control of A.I.M. for himself. He renamed himself M.O.D.O.K. M.O.D.O.K’s new name replaced the C with a K and stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

M.O.D.O.K’s Powers

M.O.D.O.K. using his powers against Marvel heroes.
Marvel Comics

M.O.D.O.K.’s AIM-created headband allowed him to focus his mental power into powerful and destructive energy beams. Most importantly, M.O.D.O.K has psychic abilities in the Marvel universe, including telepathy and the power to control the minds of others. He can even generate force fields similar to those of the Fantastic Four’s Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman. We must say, M.O.D.O.K. doesn’t live up to his name often in Marvel’s world. For a being designed “only for killing,” he does a lot of speechifying and not all that much killing.

Why Does M.O.D.O.K Look Like That?

A creepier, modern take on M.O.D.O.K.
Marvel Comics

So why is M.O.D.O.K’s head so big? M.O.D.O.K.’s giant head was a side effect of the mutation that gave him his powers. Because his brain had grown so large, his human body couldn’t support its own weight any longer. Because of this, M.O.D.O.K. relies on the mechanical exoskeleton/hoverchair named “the Doomsday Chair” that allows him to move about. The Doomsday Chair also had several deadly projectile weapons. He might look silly, but he could destroy you with a thought in that chair of his. Once he’s done making speeches about it.

M.O.D.O.K. vs. the Marvel Universe

M.O.D.O.K. takes on Carol Danvers, when she went by the name Ms, Marvel.
Marvel Comics

M.O.D.O.K’s first Marvel conflict was with Captain America, who sought to rescue his girlfriend, Sharon Carter, from A.I.M’s clutches. For many years after, A.I.M. was completely under the control of M.O.D.O.K.

After fighting Captain America, a long animosity between M.O.D.O.K. and the superhero community began. Besides Cap, over the next several decades, M.O.D.O.K fought Iron Man, Namor, Carol Danvers (when she was Ms. Marvel), the Thing, and the X-Men. There was almost no Marvel hero who didn’t cross paths with M.O.D.O.K. He even fought other villains, like Doctor Doom. In the end, they all humiliated him and sent him packing.

M.O.D.O.K. vs the Incredible Hulk.
Marvel Comics

Besides Captain America, however, his biggest nemesis was the Hulk. In fact, M.O.D.O.K was part of Marvel Comic’s Intelligentsia, the group that transformed General Thunderbolt Ross into the Red Hulk and Hulk’s wife Betty Ross into the Red She-Hulk. Eventually, they reverted M.O.D.O.K. to his human form of George Tarleton. But an even more dangerous clone of his, called M.O.D.O.K. Superior, continued to make trouble for Marvel’s heroes.

Does M.O.D.O.K. Have a Connection to Galactus?
M.O.D.O.K. as the literally butt of Galactus.
Marvel Comics

Well, not exactly. By the 1990s, M.O.D.O.K., thanks to his goofy name and appearance, wound up more as a joke villain than a serious threat. So much so, that the writers at Marvel started to have some fun with him. In 2010’s What If? Iron Man: Demon in Armor, the all-powerful Beyonder transformed him into Galactus’ butt. Yeah, you read that right. He was the mighty Devourer of Worlds’ rear end. Marvel literally made M.O.D.O.K the butt of the joke.

M.O.D.O.K. and Kang

In Marvel’s comics, M.O.D.O.K. and fellow Avengers villain Kang the Conqueror have little shared history. AIM’s objectives were for global domination, while Kang sought to control time itself. However, in a 2017 storyline in Avengers, the team encountered a Kang variant who was also a M.O.D.O.K., from Earth-6311. However, we think in the MCU, M.O.D.O.K. and Kang will have a much greater connection. But we’ll get to that.

M.O.D.O.K: TV Star

Who Is Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K., and What Part Will He Play in ANT-MAN and the MCU?_1
Marvel Television

Although he has not appeared in live-action films (yet), M.O.D.O.K. has made many appearances on animated TV shows over the years. His first popped up in the ‘90s Iron Man cartoon show and then, more recently, M.O.D.O.K appeared in over ten different Marvel animated series. He even got his own comedic one-season show on Hulu in 2021, which portrayed M.O.D.O.K. as a family man suffering a midlife crisis. Voiced by Patton Oswalt, M.O.D.O.K. was married with two kids, Lou and Melissa.

Melissa looks just like dad, but is the most popular girl in school, regardless. Melissa tells everyone that her name is an acronym, too, standing for “Mental Entity Living to Induce Seriously Sinister Anarchy.” However, her dad said he named her after musician Melissa Etheridge. His arch nemesis on the series is Monica Rappaccini, A.I.M.’s Scientist Supreme. She was modeled after a character from the comics, but in the series, she was his workplace rival. After that show, it seemed they would only use this villain as a joke character. But it looks like Kevin Feige has found a way to introduce M.O.D.O.K to the MCU after all.

M.O.D.O.K Finally Joins the MCU in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

M.O.D.O.K. is set to appear in some form in the MCU’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. This fact was given away early by Funko Pop toy reveals and then confirmed when M.O.D.O.K finally appeared in an Ant-Man and the Wasp: Qunatumania trailer.

Ant Man and the Wasp Quantumania trailer reveals MODOK
Marvel Studios

When it comes to his MCU history, M.O.D.O.K almost debuted in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, portrayed by Peter Dinklage, but that didn’t come to pass. Additionally, although we expect a M.O.D.O.K. greatly altered from his comic book counterpart, we know A.I.M. has existed in the MCU. We saw the organization appear in Iron Man 3. But that version is long gone. In fact, we don’t think the MCU’s M.O.D.O.K., who is likely from the Quantum Realm, will even be George Tarleton or have an A.I.M. connection.

So who will play MCU M.O.D.O.K.? For some reason, some folks online seem convinced it’ll be Jim Carrey. But according to our latest Ant-Man trailer, it seems like M.O.D.O.K is actually a transformed version of Ant-Man villain Darren Cross, who was played by Corey Stoll. Darren Cross vanished into the Quantum Realm in the climax of the first Ant-Man.

MODOK's human face reveals Darren Cross
Marvel Studios
More About M.O.D.O.K

Writer Jeff Loveness also shares more about the MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. He paints a vivid picture of the character:

I’ll just say he was inspired by Kevin Kline in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ and Frank Grimes in an old ‘Simpsons’ episode — This really put-upon, selfish, entitled but then also deeply sad, insecure man who knows that he got a s*** deal in life and is trying to make the best of it. […] His ego will crumble the second he’s challenged but then also like Kevin Kline in ‘A Fish Called Wanda,’ he’s pretty good at killing people! He’s a real loose cannon character and I had a great amount of fun with him. That was almost day one in the room — we cracked M.O.D.O.K as a character and the movie just became so fun.

We wouldn’t feel surprised if Marvel created the MCU’s M.O.D.O.K as a servant of Kang. Maybe in the MCU, M.O.D.O.K. stands for “Mental Organism Designed Only For Kang?” It also kind of sounds like M.O.D.O.K only serves himself. We’ll find out when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on February 17.

Originally published on January 3, 2023.

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