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Every Ant-Man Movie Needs Its Comic Relief

George Tarleton (a.k.a. M.O.D.O.K.) in Marvel Comics

In the weeks leading up to the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, many fans were anticipating the return of Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror. However, for us fans with a penchant for the absurd and comedic, M.O.D.O.K. was the real villain we were looking forward to seeing. M.O.D.O.K.’s appearance in the film was confirmed after he was spotted in the Quantum Realm with Kang the Conqueror in one of the film’s trailers. M.O.D.O.K. is an iconic Marvel villain and has appeared in numerous animated projects and video games. While he was considered for several MCU films, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania marked the first time he actually made it into the final cut of the film.

M.O.D.O.K. is iconic for a number the reasons, the major one being just how weird he is. In the comics, he is a scientist named George Tarleton who was given superhuman intelligence due to experiments with mutagenesis. However, the only way for him to house such an intellect was with the growth of his brain and head. As a result, he developed a grotesquely oversized head and an underdeveloped body. Because of his disproportionate body, he uses a “Doomsday Chair” to get around. After becoming a genius, he turned against his experimenters and adopted the name M.O.D.O.K. an acronym for Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing that’s missing the F. To summarize, he’s a weird, cheesy, and silly comic book villain who is quite lovable despite his oddness.

While news of M.O.D.O.K.’s appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was exciting, it may have also been confusing for some. After all, we haven’t seen any sign of Tarleton in the MCU. So, how was he suddenly going to pop up in the Quantum Realm in the third Ant-Man film? It all came together once the film was released and viewers found that the MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. isn’t Tarleton. Instead, the MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. is … Darren Cross (Corey Stoll)?

The MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. retcon explained

Corey Stoll as Darren Cross's MODOK in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quatumania

In Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the MCU does away with the Tarleton comic book storyline and retcons M.O.D.O.K.’s origin story completely. Viewers will recall that Stoll first appeared in Ant-Man in 2015 as Cross, the protégé of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). He quickly established himself as a sleazy and unlikeable character as he drove Hank out of his own company and succeeded in building an Ant-Man suit replica, the Yellowjacket. Cross planned to sell the suit to Hydra and also held Scott’s (Paul Rudd) six-year-old daughter hostage at one point. No one really missed him after he shrunk down uncontrollably and seemingly died.

As a result, Cross didn’t appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp in 2017. However, in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Scott is horrified when he runs into a disfigured and manic Cross in the Quantum Realm. It turns out, when Scott manipulated Cross’ shrinking mechanisms, he didn’t die. Instead, he shrank to subatomic size and became trapped in the Quantum Realm. We don’t really get the full story on his new appearance, but apparently, it was Kang’s way of “saving” Cross. Now, he’s a giant floating head with baby arms and legs who serves as an assistant to Kang. However, he definitely didn’t get M.O.D.O.K.’s intellect and is no supervillain.

Instead, he’s responsible for most of the film’s funniest scenes as he refuses to answer to the name Cross, futilely tries to defend his new appearance and name, and is ultimately just a huge nuisance to pretty much every character in the film. He proves that he’s still very much Cross, though, as he is desperate to get vengeance on Scott for their muddled history together. Ultimately, the retcon actually works quite well. After all, if we’re being realistic, it’s very unlikely we’re going to get a solo M.O.D.O.K. film in the MCU. He’s a character who isn’t meant to be taken that seriously. As a result, it worked perfectly to bring him back as a fumbling, disgruntled past villain who fails all over again at trying to be a killing machine.

(featured image: Marvel Comics)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.