Ant-Man 3’s Impact on MODOK’s Marvel Comics Origin: A Critical Analysis
Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantumania Changes MODOK’s Origin Story
MODOK’s MCU counterpart has many thematic connections, but Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania gives him an entirely new origin.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe provides a fascinating example of adaptation. Numerous filmmakers are now faced with the difficult task of adapting Marvel Comics’ original spirit while reimagining characters and stories to create their films. This is the case with Ant-Man and the Wasp quantumania. It also reimagines an iconic villain.
An interesting example of the MCU adaptation process is the MODOK in Quantumania. The film version of the character is a cinematic representation of the comic’s classic comic concept. It shares many of the same characteristics and purposes. His origins, personality, and fate are altered to better fit with the overall character arcs in the franchise. MODOK in Quantumania has many distinct characteristics from the comics version.
MODOK made its debut in Tales of Suspense #93 (by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby). MODOK was initially just George Tarleton, a normal human being. A.I.M. scientists used mutagenesis to create mutants. Scientists at A.I.M. experimented with Tarelton to increase his intelligence. Although the procedure worked and Tarelton was further augmented with lethal tech, it had a profound impact on George’s mental and physical health. Tarleton became more determined and ambitious. MODOK turned on his creators and adopted a name that reflected his new form. He quickly became a constant thorn in Marvel’s side — competing with Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and The Avengers. This feud continues even though MODOK only briefly worked with them. MODOK has received a few minor retcons of his origins throughout the years, including revelations regarding his father, A.I.M. Alvinm, the founder of MODOK, and his connection to A.I.M. They have remained constant.
Modok’s MCU version has no direct connection with A.I.M. However, it is still the result of some serious super-science. Darren Cross, a former student of Hank Pym, was the main antagonist of Ant-Man. He had become increasingly angry with his mentor and tried to sell Pym Technology, including the Yellowjacket arm. After a fight with Scott Lang, Cross was slashed to pieces by the Quantum Realm’s technology, leaving him with an odd and disfigured body. Cross was found by Kang and saved by his technology. He is now MODOK.
Modok Changes in the MCU, While the Concept is Still True
It is remarkable how MODOK’s two versions are so different, yet they still feel true to the character’s inherently silly spirit. Both are completely different characters with different motivations. The Cross MODOK is both so outrageously outlandish and yet so subtle in his dialogue, that he becomes a punch-line throughout the film. This strange connection to the first Ant-Man catches the heroes off guard. The comic MODOK, a more unique figure, is now a problem for the whole universe instead of being a direct ally to the heroes.
Both characters eventually follow different paths. Cross’ redemption helped the heroes in a way the comics MODOK couldn’t. Cross finally showing some backbone against Kang, and then rebelling against him, feels consistent with comics MODOK. He has always been quick to attack or backstab his friends if it suits him. The cross can be comically pathetic or lethal in a matter of seconds, which is a key element in comics.
MODOK’s appearance is very faithful. MODOK’s design has been a hallmark of Marvel’s overtly absurd villains. This character trait comics such as MODOK Head Games (by Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt), Scott Hepburn, and Carlos Lopez) have explored while focusing on more dramatic aspects of the character’s backstory. These elements all match the MCU character, even though he is quite different. MODOK’s style and function throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp, Quantumania is very similar to his comic role of a bizarre minor villain. However, the film does take some liberties with the source material when depicting him. This is a wonderful example of how the MCU can take concepts straight from comics and find ways to weave them into its interpretation of the universe.
You can now see MODOK’s MCU origin in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.