MODOK, the absurd Marvel supervillain, explained

MODOK in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
MODOK in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is set to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a big way by shrinking it down into the Quantum Realm, with the introduction of Kang the Conqueror, the elevation of Cassie Lang to a full-fledged superhero, and of course, the introduction of one of Marvel's oddest and perhaps most absurd supervillains, MODOK, who just got his official first look (above) in the new Quantumania trailer.

As in the giant floating head guy who was the star of his own short-lived animated series (voiced by Patton Oswalt) not too long ago, and is the main villain of the video game Marvel's Avengers. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1967's Tales of Suspense #94 (opens in new tab), MODOK, or "Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing" was once George Tarleton, a janitor working for Advanced Idea Mechanics (who appeared in the MCU as the company headed up by Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3). 

When AIM makes him the subject of an experiment designed to turn someone of average intelligence into a genius, the process works - but has the added effect of making Tarleton's cranium so massive that he requires a special floating life support chair to survive and get around. In addition to super-intelligence, the experiment also imbues Tarleton with some limited psychic abilities, including low-level telekinesis and psionic blasts.

Tarleton is given the name MODOK, and elevated to a leadership position in AIM, using his massive intelligence and diabolical cunning to attempt numerous villainous schemes, which are most often thwarted by Captain America or Iron Man, MODOK's most common comic book foes.

Interestingly enough, MODOK is also the creator of the Red Hulk. Using a combination of Gamma radiation and Cosmic Rays (the same energy that empowers the Fantastic Four in comics) to transform Thunderbolt Ross into the Red Hulk, later bringing Bruce Banner's arch enemy The Leader into the scheme.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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There have been several other versions of MODOK in comics, including MODOG (Mental Organism Designed Only for Genocide), MODOT (Mental Organism Designed Only for Talking), and a female counterpart named MODAM (Mental Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers). And in 2018's reboot of West Coast Avengers (opens in new tab), when he was sorta weirdly reformed, MODOK grew long hair and developed a hunky body to go with his giant head, changing his name to BRODOK (Bio-Robotic Organism Designed Overwhelmingly for Kissing).

So… yeah. Marvel's definitely aware of how weird MODOK is. That's all part of the fun.

Will any of that make it into the MCU? We don't know just yet. In fact, we don't know anything about the MCU MODOK aside from the fact that he'll debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania when it releases in February 2023. However, with The Leader returning in Captain America: New World Order and Harrison Ford taking the place of the late William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross to potentially become Red Hulk, he could have an ongoing role after his Ant-Man debut.

But we're definitely hoping that the movie MODOK keeps the same level of self-aware fun that makes MODOK one of the most absurd (but kinda loveable) villains in Marvel Comics.

MODOK is one of Marvel's weirdest supervillains, but these are the best Marvel supervillains of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)