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How MODOK's New Origin Story Allowed Marvel To Adapt The Character For The Big Screen, According To Peyton Reed - Exclusive

This article contains spoilers for "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."

Marvel Studios' newest outing, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," has taken Hollywood by storm. The film sees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his family pulled into the Quantum Realm by a fearsome antagonist, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), himself trapped in the subatomic universe. They must find their way safely out, all the while preventing Kang from escaping the miniscule landscape. 

As the first film of Marvel's Phase 5, "Quantumania" broaches a lot of important new territory for the studio. Most importantly, its introduction of the MCU's next major villain in Kang opens up a wide range of important stories for the superhero franchise ... but Kang isn't the only classic villain it introduces.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, director Peyton Reed discussed the movie's introduction of MODOK (here, the Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing). Most interestingly, he talked about the reasons why MODOK's origin story was changed from comic canon in order to bring back — and redeem — a die-hard villain from the original "Ant-Man" film. It was a choice that allowed Marvel Studios to finally bring the unusual Marvel Comics antagonist into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Finally able to take MODOK from page to screen

In our interview, Peyton Reed first explained that MODOK's MCU introduction was a long time coming. "MODOK has been waiting in the wings for some time in the MCU," he noted, but in prior Marvel films, "No one's quite figured out the right context." Reed worked on the character's origin story, "thinking one day about how that would make sense," he said, "and remembering the moment in the first 'Ant-Man' when Yellowjacket is vanquished, and what happens to him there — and it started to make sense."

Transforming Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) into MODOK proved useful, as it "provided [an] organic way for [Kang] to have information about the Pyms and the Langs and the Van Dynes." And when Reed brought the idea of returning as Darren Cross to Stoll, he was immediately on board. 

"I remember in the first movie when we killed off Yellowjacket," Reed recalled. When Stoll learned of his character's convincing death in "Ant-Man," "He was like, 'Oh man, I'm out. One and done,'" believing his MCU time was over, Reed said. Running the idea of Yellowjacket becoming MODOK by him produced a much different response. "The thing you may not know about Corey Stoll [is] he's a full-on comic book nerd," Reed explained. "When I mentioned MODOK, he lost it and started giggling."  

Stoll was certainly surprised, asking the director "Is this real? Are you pranking me? Can this happen?" When Reed explained that no, the invite to return was not a prank, "He was all in." One simple change in the character's origin story met a host of MCU needs, and the rest is history.

"Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" is available in theaters.