One character being introduced in the February 17 film is MODOK — Marvel comics' "Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing." This wacky villain was first glimpsed in the second trailer for the film, and fans quickly noticed that he seemed to have a familiar face.
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed Corey Stoll, last seen in Ant-Man as Darren Cross (Yellowjacket), seemingly taking on the role of MODOK on the big screen. This led to a theory, backed by years-long rumors about Stoll's return to the MCU.
Now, fans finally have some confirmed answers.
Who is MODOK in the MCU?
In an interview with Screen Rant, Marvel veteran and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania director Peyton Reed confirmed that Corey Stoll (Darren Cross) would not only be playing MODOK in the MCU but also that his two characters are actually one and the same.
According to Reed, plans for a live-action MODOK had been in the works "for a while," with the character almost debuting on the big screen in different MCU films:
Interviewer: "I want to talk about MODOK cause it’s a character I’ve been anticipating for a while now in the MCU, and he’s such a strange but fun character, and you guys tackle him in ‘Quantumania.’ What inspired his connection to the Ant-Fam in this film?"
Reed: "We talked a lot about, as we were developing the story… MODOK has been waiting in the wings, I think, for a while, you know? I know there’s been, Stephen Broussard would know this better than me, but there have been conversations for other movies about, can MODOK fit in here? What would that look like in live action?"
Reed continued that to progress the plot of the third Ant-Man movie in the way they planned, there needed to be a way for "Kang [to] know about the Ant-Family." Reed then realized that there was a lot of potential in the villain from the franchise's first installment, Yellowjacket:
"But then we hit on an idea of, as we were going to bring our family into the Quantum Realm in contact with Kang, how could Kang know about the Ant-Family? And then it occurred to me that, y’know, what happens to Yellowjacket at the end of the first 'Ant-Man.' It’s like [indistinct sucking sound]. And it dawned on me, like, what if…? And I pitched the idea to Stephen Broussard and then to Kevin, and we ran with it."
Reed then said that when Stoll learned the plans over a phone call he was "giggling on the other line," and immediately agreed:
"And I remember calling Corey Stoll and sort of talking to him about what if this happened, and him giggling on the other line. It’s like, ‘If you guys do that, I’m in.’ He loved it, cause he’s a comics nerd too. But yeah, we were able to do it, and I’m thrilled. It’s such a crazy, crazy thing to have in this movie."
In a significant change from comics to live-action films, the MCU has merged the characters of MODOK and Yellowjacket into a hybrid, wherein somehow, presumably in his time in the Quantum Realm between the first Ant-Man film and now, Cross became the mechanized MODOK.
Perhaps MODOK's origin is a transfer of consciousness of some sort, similar to what has been done with Arnim Zola in the MCU. But that raises the question of why Yellowjacket would need to transfer his consciousness into MODOK in the first place.
Additionally, fans know from Cross' last appearance that he was obsessed with Pym Particles. Perhaps the MCU's MODOK will be formed using Pym technology, in some capacity. Until fans see the movie, nothing is known for sure.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania releases in theaters on Feb. 17.