Who Is MODOK? Your Guide To The New MCU Villain

Kang The Conqueror isn’t the only big bad we’ll see facing off against Scott Lang in Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania.

The second trailer for the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) blockbuster gave us our first look at MODOK, an AI killing machine who has made life hell for The Avengers for many years in the comic books.

As this is his first time appearing in live action on the big screen, many will be unfamiliar with why this weaponised monstrosity is such a formidable foe.

So, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about MODOK before seeing the film.

Origin Story

Marvel Comics

MODOK made his first appearance in 1967, although what his name is an acronym for has changed over the years. Depending on the comics continuity you follow, his name stands for either Mental, Mobile, or Mechanized Organism Designed Only For Killing.

The original MODOK is arms dealer George Tarleton, former employee of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), who transforms into the giant floating head after medical experimentation designed to increase his intelligence goes horribly wrong.

With the rest of his body immobile, Tarleton’s gigantic visage now travels everywhere by hoverboard – it’s his anger at his new appearance that defines many of his feuds.

Marvel Comics

He kills the scientists responsible for his botched makeover to take control of A.I.M., and his first contact with an Avenger is with Captain America shortly afterwards, after he kidnaps S.H.I.E.L.D.agent Sharon Carter, stranding her at A.I.M. headquarters.

Over the years, he’s battled with all of the key Marvel heroes, including several rematches with Captain America and Iron Man. Most recently, he was the main archenemy of GwenPool in the comics series which ran from 2016 to 2018.

On the screen, MODOK recently featured as the central character in an adult animated series co-created by Patton Oswalt, who also voiced the character.


Marvel Comics

The experiment to increase Tarleton’s intelligence didn’t completely fail. As a result, he now has increased perception, incredible deduction abilities, and can likely solve a Wordle within seconds.

But these aren’t the qualities that make MODOK such an impactful villain. He is known for breaking out into rages and unleashing a mental beam, focusing the energy from his brain to create a destructive ray of power – something that happens any time he runs out of patience. Which, for someone this short tempered, is quite often.

It isn’t just his own mind he’s in control of though, as MODOK has the power of telepathy and mind control, which means if you’re on the wrong side of him, you’re already at a major disadvantage.


Marvel Studios

The MCU have been trying to include MODOK for years: he was the villain in the first draft of the Iron Man screenplay and Peter Dinklage was initially hired to play him in Captain America: The Winter Soldier before they ultimately decided to switch out the film’s big bad.

His arrival in Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania is notable, however, because it appears that we’re not getting George Tarleton at all, with the menacing moniker instead being handed down to a different character within the universe.

Although unconfirmed, the most recent trailer points to Corey Stoll playing MODOK – considering he portrayed villain Darren Cross in 2015’s first Ant-Man movie, there’s a suggestion that the comic book backstory has been retconned entirely.

Marvel Studios

Does this mean that Cross’ fate at the end of that movie, when he was trapped in the Yellowjacket suit and cursed to shrink uncontrollably, wasn’t the kiss of death it appeared to be?

We’re not sure on the scientific explanation of how this would cause his proportions and mind powers to transform to that of MODOK, but we’re excited to see if this is a complete reinvention of the character.

Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th February.

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Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.