M.O.D.O.K. Actor Thinks Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania's Retcon 'Really Works'

This post contains spoilers for "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania." 

"Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania" is in theaters, and audiences seem to be divided on one character from the film. If social media is anything to go by, people are split on M.O.D.O.K.'s appearance. This classic comic book character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first appeared in "Tales of Suspense" #93 in 1967. M.O.D.O.K. has different origin stories in the comics, the first being George Tarleton, a man who used to work for Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), which was an arms-dealing company employing advanced technology. He was mutated through an experiment that was trying to increase his intelligence. It worked, but it also shrunk his body and gave him a giant head, forcing him to float around in a hover chair.

M.O.D.O.K. (which stands for Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing, though the first word has been different in other iterations) is a weird-looking little dude on the page and maybe even weirder in video games and the brilliant self-titled Hulu animated series, voiced by Patton Oswalt. Still, translating this character to live-action was always going to create strong opinions.

As you likely know, M.O.D.O.K. in "Quantumania" is the new form of Corey Stoll's character, Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, after he ended up in the Quantum Realm. He's working for Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) now and has quite the look, with a stretched-out face in a shiny metal mask. (It was recently revealed that writer Jeff Loveness was killed by him in a deleted scene.) M.O.D.O.K. is played for comic effect in the film, and Stoll recently spoke to Variety, saying that he believes the character's retcon "really works."

'The guy with the big head'

Corey Stoll told the publication that he knew the character had "the craziest name" and that when director Peyton Reed asked him what he knew, he said, "the guy with the big head." That's what everyone remembers, of course. He continued: 

"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."

"Over the top" is one way to put it. Stoll was asked about the controversy about his appearance in the film and though he admitted that he's not really online much, he said: 

"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 M.O.D.O.K. to be. I think it really works. It certainly works in the context of Darren's arc.

"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."

'There would be these radically different versions of the same characters'

While I am not alone in disagreeing about whether or not the switch from the page to live action worked, he does have a really great point. There are so many versions of so many comic book characters, from the page to TV to live-action, to video games. If this one doesn't work for you (or another one didn't), there are other avenues to explore. It would be boring to repeat the same version, and taking character risks is what writing is about. They definitely swung from the fences here. 

/Film's own Ethan Anderton recently spoke to Jeff Loveness about the divided reaction to M.O.D.O.K. The scriptwriter said: 

"Let me just say, the people who are divided, they're wrong. I will go to the mat for M.O.D.O.K. I am so happy. And it was such a fight. And it was such a labor of love and passion and all that, just to get the comedy balance of this guy. And hey, I'm a big comics guy, I'm sure you are, too. We're on the internet. People got opinions. Those motherf***ers are wrong. I'm sorry, you want to do a serious take on M.O.D.O.K.? I played that 'Avengers' game on PS5, good luck. Yeah, yeah, yeah, come back later."

See? Other versions. No audience is going to react in the same way, especially with a character like M.O.D.O.K. He's a strange guy, but no matter what you felt about the result, at least they took a chance. 

"Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania" is in theaters now.