The character was teased as a serious threat throughout the promotional tour for Ant-Man 3, showing off some incredible technology and a new look.
But while this villain is an exciting addition to the MCU, many complained about his origin story being changed so drastically from his comic book counterpart.
Corey Stoll Defends Ant-Man 3's MODOK
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.
While he admitted that he doesn't go online to look at reactions, Stoll explained that fans are trying to "make this jump from a two-dimensional, static image on page" to a live-action movie. He praised the team's decision to retcon MODOK's backstory, sharing his thoughts that it "works in the context of Darren’s arc:" for the MCU:
"Well, I’m not online at all. I think these characters are very close to a lot of people’s hearts. Everybody’s trying to make this jump from a two-dimensional, static image on page to live action, and some things have to change. Jeff Loveness, who wrote the script, and Peyton and Paul made a very strong choice to retcon — is that the word? — this new reason for MODOK to be. I think it really works. It certainly works in the context of Darren’s arc."
He also looked back to his own time being a comic book fan, recognizing that there are "radically different versions of the same characters" across all comic companies, explaining that they're not all going to be loved the same way:
"You know, the thing I always loved as a comic book fan was that there would be these radically different versions of the same characters. I was a big Batman fan growing up. Frank Miller’s 'The Dark Knight Returns' was this completely different character from 'Year One' or whatever. You don’t have to like everyone equally. There is no definitive any of these characters."
For comparison, MODOK in the comics stands for "Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing" with former AIM technician George Tarleton being the original character to turn into this villain.
He joined AIM to develop the Cosmic Cube but was mutated by the Scientist Supreme into a human computer, giving him superhuman intellect but also making his cranium too big for his body. He was then placed on a life support unit called the "Doomsday Chair," gaining psychic powers and a huge new ego.
In the MCU, Stoll's Darren Cross becomes MODOK after being shrunken down into the Quantum Realm at the end of 2015's Ant-Man. His arms, legs, and torso shrunk first, leaving him with an abnormally large head before Kang outfitted him with a suit to help him live and evolve.
Stoll also looked back to when he was first approached about the new role, recognizing the name MODOK when director Peyton Reed first brought it up and sharing that he didn't need to be sold on the part at all:
“I knew that he had the craziest name. When Peyton first told me about it, he said, ‘Do you know a character named MODOK?’ And I said, ‘Yes, the guy with the big head.’ I don’t know if I’d actually ever read a comic book with him in it, but I had seen that image before. And I think once you see that image, you don’t forget it. He is one of a kind. It’s just so over the top, both frightening and hilarious. So Peyton didn’t have to sell me on the role at all. It was a done deal.”
For filming, Stoll wasn't on set during principal photography, rather filming his work after going through each scene individually and making everything feel as "organic" as possible:
"I wasn’t there while they were actually doing principal photography, but I was there right before they started. We just had some tables and chairs set up with scripts. I had the dots on my face for the performance capture camera. We just went through the scene and then after we got to a place where we thought the scene was good, we’d get up on our feet and we just filmed the scenes. It was all really organic. It felt closer to a workshop of a new play than a $200 million movie."
Ant-Man 3 Team Proud of MODOK Move
MODOK has been a source of controversy amongst fans and critics since the first screenings of Ant-Man 3, with some thinking the MCU ruined his look while others saw it as a fairly accurate portrayal from the comics. But for Stoll himself, he was simply excited to be playing a character so wild and wacky, particularly considering his history as a long-time comic book fan.
MODOK's appearance brought more than its fair share of comedic moments, especially thanks to visuals of his body that have gone viral since the threequel's debut.
In the end, this character simply gave the MCU another avenue to bring an iconic name from the comics to life with a unique twist, giving Corey Stoll the opportunity to portray two of Ant-Man's biggest adversaries in one character.
And in his team-up efforts with Kang the Conqueror, he went through a great deal of character development before his sacrifice in the final battle, earning an emotional moment with Team Ant-Man as the conflict ended.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters worldwide.