Marvel Studios brought back a memorable Phase 2 villain in a new role for the MCU's first movie of Phase 5, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Not only did Ant-Man 3 introduce MCU fans to Kang the Conqueror for the first time, but the movie also features an exciting secondary villain in Corey Stoll's MODOK. This role was confirmed in the movie's second trailer, which was released in early 2023, as Marvel Studios reimagined the character from the comics to the big screen.
Many will remember Stoll's first role in the MCU as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket from the first Ant-Man movie in 2015, which ended with him seemingly being killed after Scott Lang shrunk down small enough to destroy Cross' suit.
Ant-Man 3's Use of Phase 2 Villain
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania featured a secondary villain in the form of Corey Stoll's MODOK, who evolved into existence from the remnants of Stoll's Darren Cross from the original Ant-Man movie.
Cross served as the villain in 2015's Ant-Man, making his name as Hank Pym's protege who eventually took over Pym Tech and pushed its creator out. Eventually, he developed the Yellowjacket suit by recreating his own version of the Pym Particle.
At the end of the movie, Scott Lang shrunk smaller than atoms in order to get inside Cross's titanium suit and destroy the Yellowjacket's power source. This caused Cross to shrink at a crazy rate, starting off with his arms before moving to the rest of his body and his head as he was transported to the Quantum Realm.
In the Quantum realm, Kang found Cross and gave him new life by transforming him into MODOK, which is an acronym for "Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing" in the MCU. MODOK became Kang's muscle and hunter, being tasked to find Team Ant-Man after opening the door to the Quantum Realm with the signal from Cassie's satellite-style device.
After capturing Scott and Cassie and being ordered to kill the latter, MODOK battles with Cassie until she sizes up and gives him a beatdown. Eventually, the two reconnect during the final battle with Cassie telling Darren "Just don't be a dick."
MODOK eventually turns on Kang and joins up with the Ant-Man team, with Kang taking him out and ending his run in the MCU, although he got a unique redemption story before ultimately facing death as Scott jokingly crowned his as an Avenger for his act for heroism.
Marvel's Villain Comeback Trend
Even though MODOK's MCU tenure will seemingly only be for one movie, his comeback in Ant-Man 3 continues an interesting trend of bringing back previous antagonists for future Phase 5 and Phase 6 projects.
Last year's She-Hulk: Attorney at Law brought back Tim Roth's Emil Blonsky aka Abomination an astounding fourteen years after he made his MCU debut in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also featured the return of Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger, although his appearance was limited to an Ancestral Plane-centric cameo in Shuri's mind.
It also comes over a year before Tim Blake Nelson's Leader - who debuted in 2008's The Incredible Hulk - plays the main villain role in Captain America: New World Order, immediately followed by Hannah John-Kamen's comeback as Ghost in Thunderbolts. On top of that, fans are already pushing for Sam Rockwell to reprise his role as Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2 and become the main villain of Armor Wars, although that film is still in the early stages of development.
Stoll isn't even the only actor to play multiple characters in the Ant-Man franchise alone after David Dastmalchian took on a new part as Veb following his time as the ex-con Kurt in the first two movies. Although, despite being two different characters in the comics, Cross and MODOK are technically the same character in the MCU.
As for MODOK himself, he became an integral part of the Quantum Realm's evolution, especially in helping Kang take over the land as he made his name as a conqueror. Only time will tell if the villain finds a way back into the MCU at a later date, although his debut will certainly leave fans torn for a while.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters worldwide.