Folks, It Is Time for M.O.D.O.K. to Enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe

     May 1, 2020

Everyone has their own stand-out memory from watching an MCU film in theaters. Cap catching Mjolnir in Avengers: Endgame. That cut to the “Queens” location card in Captain America: Civil War that heralded the first appearance of Peter Parker. That time they showed Hulk’s enormous butt. All great options, but for me, that moment came in 2013—seven years ago to the day—during a screening of Iron Man 3, the first time a character spoke the words “Advanced Idea Mechanics” and I dead-ass thought for the remainder of the film that Shane Black was about to introduce a live-action M.O.D.O.K. in the MCU. I was straight-up vibrating with excitement. I could’ve powered a generator with hype alone. M.O.D.O.K.—an acronym that stands, incredibly, for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing—is almost objectively the dumbest-looking supervillain in all of comics, a decades-old storytelling medium built on the back of dumb-looking supervillains. I love him. I love him like my own horrifically mutated genocidal son.

As we now know, M.O.D.O.K. tragically does not make an appearance in Iron Man 3, although Guy Pearce does breathe fire like a sexy dragon, which in literally any other scenario would be an adequate consolation prize. But no. Not then. Not now. I have marinated in this let-down broth for seven long years and it is time for M.O.D.O.K. to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a vastly different and exponentially weirder place than it was in 2013.

modok-captain-america

Image via Marvel

And folks, it needed to be weirder, because here’s M.O.D.O.K.’s whole deal: He’s a giant head in a lil’ floaty chair who has psychic abilities, tiny noodle arms, murderous hatred for humanity, and like zero successful schemes to his name. He’s a very angry Easter Island head sitting in a hoverchair. The character’s grotesquely cuboidal history began in Tales of Suspense #93 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, which saw Captain America captured in the underwater base of terrorist tech start-up Advanced Idea Mechanics. Cap is introduced to AIM’s leader, George Tarleton, whose work creating the Cosmic Cube blew his head up like a hot air balloon and gave him mental abilities. The project originally went under the title “Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing”, but huge toughie George Tarleton switched it to “Killing” himself, which is honestly adorable and only badass if you’re a humongous doofus.  It’s like a child dubbing himself the Big Boy Who Is Allowed to Say Swears. Either way, the villain would re-appear countless more times over the next five decades(!) of comics, occasionally targeting Captain America specifically because he is attractive and M.O.D.O.K. looks like someone uploaded clinical depression into a desktop computer. Whomst among us can’t relate? Whomst?

The early-days MCU was no place for shenanigans on that level. Something I’ve been doing while stuck at home—besides marathoning slasher movies like a psychopath—is revisiting some MCU Phase 1 movies I haven’t seen in years. It’s striking how their undeniable charm is matched only by their inability to properly handle anything too weird. The better entries, like Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, are about as clean-cut and by-the-books as any movie you’ll ever see. The pinky-finger dips into weirdness, like Thor‘s whole cosmic vibe or every single second of Mickey Rourke‘s Iron Man 2 performance, are handled with such strange, careful kid gloves the finished product lands on lukewarm. It makes sense on the business side. Those first few movies had to hit as broad as possible and one wrong turn could derail years of planning. Marvel wasn’t taking big creative swings, it was clinking dingers into a very profitable mid-field.

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Image via Marvel Studios

Iron Man 3—which, to recap, did not introduce M.O.D.O.K.—is arguably the very first time the MCU said “eff it” and just tried something. That mid-movie Mandarin twist was and remains Good, Actually, and the only reason it was so jarring at the time is that nobody thought a Marvel movie could have the moxie to feel like anything other than a Marvel movie. Less than a year later Guardians of the Galaxy made $772 million worldwide and the floodgates opened. A brief list of things that have happened in the MCU since Iron Man 3: A third-act fight scene made up entirely of a wizard being murdered repeatedly by an inter-dimensional deity named Dormammu. A Kronan with an inexplicable Kiwi accent whose best friend is a slug monster with sword hands. A movie ending on the completely earnest image of an anthropomorphic raccoon weeping at the sight of an outer space funeral.

Look at the MCU’s weird-ass upcoming slate: The Eternals. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Thor: Love and Thunder. Even the genre wonkery over at Disney+ with WandaVision. Phase 5 feels like the franchise’s first semester year of college, where it starts experimenting with drugs stronger than pot and a few regrettable yet formative one night stands. Whatever! The money’s getting made either way. The time is here, nay, the time is ripe for M.O.D.O.K. The seed is already there with this (currently not-cancelled) animated show on Hulu, which will see Patton Oswalt voicing the character. I’m absolutely down for Patton Oswalt to also just play the big-screen version too, because he’s great. I’d also accept the following M.O.D.O.K. casting choices, presented here in no particular order, keeping in mind that whoever plays M.O.D.O.K. in the MCU would only provide a voice and then have their face stretched to a comical degree then placed in a CGI levitating high chair for babies:

  • modok-mcuMichael Shannon
  • Danny DeVito
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Jordan Peele
  • Mark Hamill

Is there a narrative reason that M.O.D.O.K. must enter the MCU? Some sort of overarching storyline to be adapted like the Infinity Saga, worked into the next few after-credits scenes like the Infinity Stones, something to unite the many branches of the Marvel Universe into one epic Avengers-style conclusion similar to Thanos’ quest to fill the Infinite Gauntlet?

No. I just think he looks really funny and it would be equally funny to see him in a movie. That’s kind of just it. The MCU is a wonderful achievement that I genuinely hold dear in my movie-loving heart but also, wow, do we all sometimes forget it’s not that serious. What better reminder than the introduction of a 10’x16′ melted Halloween pumpkin with advanced mind-powers that putters around on something called the Doomsday Chair? Oh man, have I not mentioned he calls his little seat thing the Doomsday Chair? Get M.O.D.O.K. into the MCU immediately, you fools, you giant dolts, and thank me later.

For more on the MCU ahead, check out our full breakdown of every upcoming Marvel movie in the works.

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