How Did [SPOILER] Survive To Become The MCU MODOK?

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘s brand new trailer reveals plenty of intriguing plot points about the upcoming Phase 5 film, including a long-rumored secondary villain who seems to be supporting Kang the Conqueror. The Marvel Comics supervillain MODOK is officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Quantumania. Yet, it appears that the live-action version will take a major departure from the source material, with a surprisingly familiar face portraying the role. This revelation naturally begs a litany of questions about the MCU’s version of MODOK, including how he came to be and whether he truly supports Kang’s conquest throughout the Multiverse.

Quantumania is one of 2023’s most exciting upcoming superhero movies, leading off the year with a mid-February release date. The Ant-Man sequel is set to mark the debut of Jonathan Majors’s Kang the Conqueror, a Multiversal villain who will act as the chief antagonist of the MCU’s ongoing Multiverse Saga, culminating in the two-part finale event, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. The latest trailer for Quantumania gave fans their best look yet at Kang and his armies residing in the Quantum Realm. Among Kang’s chief henchmen is MODOK, a comics villain who audiences have been very eager to see join the MCU for a very long time.

Yellowjacket May Have Survived In The Quantum Realm After 2015’s Ant-Man

Yellowjacket is the latest MCU villain to return from the dead, apparently having taken on a new form in Quantumania‘s MODOK. Yellowjacket, otherwise known as Darren Cross, was Hank Pym’s former protege and the main antagonist of 2015’s Ant-Man. After stealing the same Pym Particles that power Ant-Man’s suit, Cross built his own supervillain persona in Yellowjacket, coming to blows with Scott Lang shortly after that. Cross is killed at the end of the film when Scott messes with his suit, causing him to go subatomic and disappear into the Quantum Realm. However, the latest Quantumania trailer suggests that Yellowjacket may have survived this encounter.

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The MCU has been hinting at Yellowjacket’s return in various projects for some time, especially as it delves deeper into the inner workings of the Quantum Realm. Although Ant-Man appeared to kill its main villain by sending him to the Quantum Realm, the 2018 sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, revealed that imprisonment in the subatomic zone is far from a death sentence. Janet van Dyne managed to escape the Quantum Realm after decades trapped therein, emerging with new powers due to her time there. Janet’s survival teases that, while still trapped, Darren Cross did not die when he went subatomic, making his eventual return inevitable.

Why Yellowjacket Now Looks Like THAT

Paul Rudd in Ant-Man 3 MODOK

Not only is Kang already too powerful an enemy for Ant-Man, but it appears as though the Conqueror also possesses a massive army, including MODOK. In his brief appearances throughout the trailer, MODOK has a very different form than when he was Darren Cross. Coming to resemble the comic book version of the character, MODOK takes the form of a gigantic head surrounded by cybernetic implants and, aside from being portrayed by Corey Stoll, looks almost nothing like he did in the original Ant-Man movie, having undergone a major transformation offscreen. Quantumania will undoubtedly have to address Cross’s dramatically different appearance as MODOK.

The MCU’s Quantum Realm is incredibly dangerous, with specific universes even inheriting zombie viruses from the subatomic world, as shown in What If…? Therefore, it stands for the reason that Cross’s grotesque transformation came from prolonged exposure to the Quantum Realm’s toxic surroundings. While certain characters like Janet van Dyne emerged with desirable powers, it would appear that Cross was not so fortunate. More likely than not, his time in the Quantum Realm left him deformed and unable to sustain his own life, requiring the cybernetics that fans see him with in the trailer, possibly provided by Kang himself. Now, Cross’s enhanced form leads him to become MODOK.

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Yellowjacket & Kang Could Be Working Together

MODOK battles Ant-Man in Ant Man and the Wasp Quantumania

Kang is more powerful than the Avengers, but that doesn’t mean he will be working alone when he finally arrives in Quantumania. One shot from the latest trailer depicts Kang showing off his Quantum Realm city of Chronopolis to Scott and Cassie Lang, flanked by MODOK. Later, MODOK is shown fighting the film’s heroes, confirming that he will remain a villain in his new appearance. So at least at first, t would seem as though MODOK and Kang are allied in Quantumania. Cross may even be one of Kang’s generals, as he is undoubtedly more powerful than the average footsoldier in the Conqueror’s army.

Given that Kang is the Multiverse Saga’s main villain, MODOK’s allegiance to the Conqueror is a good sign for his potential future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kang is already confirmed to return in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, but will almost certainly appear multiple times beforehand to set up his final battle with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. If he and MODOK remain allied through the end of Quantumania, audiences will likely see Cross’s new villainous form in multiple upcoming projects as he continues to do his master’s bidding. MODOK may even have a role to play in The Kang Dynasty as one of Kang’s chief henchmen.

However, MODOK’s comic origins and the MCU’s recent Intelligencia teases suggest that the new supervillain may not be wholly allegiant to Kang. MODOK is rarely one to serve anyone other than himself in Marvel Comics and is likely to abandon Kang if it serves his best interests. Furthermore, the character is closely connected to the comic book version of the Intelligencia, which was recently introduced in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, taking over as the head of the organization after the leader walked away. The MCU may be setting MODOK up to take over as the new leader of the Intelligencia rather than an ally of Kang.

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How MCU MODOK Changes His Marvel Comic Backstory

MODOK in MCU concept art and a Marvel comic.

Although MODOK’s true role in Quantumania remains mostly unknown, it is already clear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will take a different approach to the character than in Marvel Comics. In the comics, MODOK is an acronym for Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing, and was once an employee of AIM named George Tarleton. Tarleton was transformed into MODOK after experimenting on himself, leading to his distinctively enlarged head and incredible genius. Afterward, MODOK became a major enemy of several superheroes, asserting himself as one of the Marvel Universe’s chief villains while also inserting himself into several villainous organizations, including the Intelligencia.

Corey Stoll’s MODOK is a clear departure from his comic book counterpart. While his appearance resembles the comics, his backstory is already entirely different. Instead, Darren Cross becoming MODOK ties Quantumania to the first Ant-Man movie while leaving the George Tarleton story by the wayside. Also, given Cross’s role in his first MCU appearance, it appears that MODOK will not have the same genius-level intellect as is typical in the comics. However, Quantumania may find a way to enhance Cross’s intelligence through his cybernetic implants. Despite the many changes made to the character, MODOK’s MCU entrance in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is sure to be thrilling.

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