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Will we ever see MODOK in a Marvel movie?

For decades, movie studios seemed terrified that the traditions and conventions of the superhero genre were just too far out there and had to be toned down for mainstream audiences. There was no way, some said, that all the over-the-top action, colorful costumes, and intensely intricate continuity could ever survive the transition from the comic book page to the big screen. Of course, that was before Marvel Studios spent over ten years building to a giant purple spaceman coming to Earth and wiping out half the population by snapping his fingers, sending Ant-Man and the Incredible Hulk on a time-travel journey to recover a handful of magic rocks, and thus making the most profitable movie of all time.

In other words, things got weird, and audiences everywhere loved it. Now, with movies like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and The Eternals, the only question is how weird they're willing to get going forward. So why not ask the question that everyone who loves the stranger side of the Marvel Universe wants to know. Are we ever going to see MODOK in the MCU? For those not in the know, MODOK is possibly the wildest character every created by the folks at Marvel. An evil giant head with arms and legs, MODOK is bent on taking over the world, and he's also incredibly goofy. So will we ever see him battling the Avengers in a Marvel movie? Well, let's find out.

Meet MODOK

If your knowledge of the Marvel Universe ends when you leave the movie theater — which is absolutely fine, most MCU fans are right there with you — you may not know just who MODOK is, or why there are so many comic book fans who would be absolutely delighted to see him showing up in the films. Allow us to give you the short version.

Originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — the two legendary creators who are also responsible for creating the Marvel Universe itself — MODOK first appeared in 1967's Tales of Suspense #94 as a foe for Captain America. At his core, he's exactly what his name says he is — a Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. As for his origin, George Tarleton had signed up to work for the acronym-loving science-terrorists of Advanced Idea Mechanics, only to find that he was the dumbest guy in the room. Admittedly, there's a significant chance of that happening when the room is otherwise full of mad scientists, but George had the opportunity to get a little smarter by letting AIM experiment on him.

The original intent was to turn him into MODOC, the Mobile Organism Designed Only for Computing, whose genetically augmented brain could help AIM with data processing. Unfortunately, he came way more aggressive than they'd anticipated, rechristened himself with a more accurate acronym, and took the position of Scientist Supreme. In the process, George was physically transformed, with his head growing so massive that his body could no longer support it, requiring a floating rocket chair to to move. The trade-off, though, came in the form of mental super powers. As it says in that first appearance, "There's almost no limit to the power of his strange, uncontrollable brain!"

MODOK is AIM-ing high

Over the next few decades, MODOK would be a perennial foe in the Marvel Universe, with AIM becoming a sort of utility player supervillain organization that could reasonably go up against almost any hero. A group that's entirely devoted to mad science for the sake of mad science, directed by the incomprehensible whims of a giant floating head, can show up pretty much anywhere. And despite the fact that they originally started as a splinter group, they didn't have the Captain America-specific baggage of the Marvel Universe's other go-to supervillain concern, Hydra.

Plus, the tech angle was much more generic, in a good way. It could — and did — bring them into conflict with Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Panther, and even bad guys like Doctor Doom. They also fought Spider-Man a couple times, even though "ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world" is a little outside the realm of a guy whose main villain is his best friend's dad cosplaying as a D&D monster with a flying snowboard. Through it all, MODOK was (usually) at the center of AIM's advanced ideological machinations.

A few of his most memorable exploits during this period involved creating a giant robot body that was properly proportionate to his own giant head so that he could fight the Hulk, a plan with so many problems that you really start to understand why "computing" wasn't really his forte. He also once teamed up with the Headmen, a group of D-list villains united by the fact that they all had weird heads, in an attempt to take over the world by using Orrgo, a monster from another dimension who was basically just a big lumpy head with hands and feet. Despite having at least ten times the cranial space of their enemies, the Headmen were ultimately defeated. Point being, that's the kind of story that MODOK was winding up in, and it would only get weirder from there.

Meet his M.A.T.E.s

The life of a MODOK is a lonely one. When one is designed only for killing, can they ever truly know ... love? You know, aside from the love of killing. That one seems like a given.

If MODOK's past is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding "no," but that's never stopped him from trying to create some kind of Mutually Attracted Technological Entity to ease those lonely nights of plotting world domination. The first attempt at a M.A.T.E. came when S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Kate Waynesboro was transformed into the imaginatively named "Ms. MODOK." She didn't last long, turning against her creators and eventually stumbling into some kind of reverse-MODOK-ifying machine that undid her transformation.

The second was slightly more successful, by a set of very specific standards for "success." A woman who was originally thought to be Hank Pym's dead first wife, Maria (it wasn't), underwent a similar procedure to George Tarleton. The difference was that it only caused her brain to balloon to the size of a small zeppelin and not the rest of her head. As a result, she had to sit under a giant glass jar that made it look like she was waiting for Samus Aran to show up. Since she wasn't "Mobile," she was initially designated a Specialized Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers or SODAM. Eventually, though, she finished a complete MODOKification, and having been granted her own rocket chair, she became MODAM.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the dating pool of macrocephalic rocket-chair enthusiasts, MODAM and MODOK never really hit it off. Ah, romance. She's a mystery to us all, no?

MODOK has become a cult favorite

As you might be able to tell already, MODOK found his way into some of the Marvel Universe's weirder stories. In fact, he would eventually come to be a symbol of the weirder side of Marvel himself, and while that might seem like a logical path for a giant head with tiny little arms and legs that floats around on a rocket chair while trying to kill Captain America with his brain, consider that this is the Marvel Universe we're talking about. There's no shortage of mad scientists with bizarre designs. Arnim Zola, the Bio-Fanatic who actually did make it into some of the franchise's more serious films, has a tiny camera instead of a head, and his face is on a TV screen that makes up 90 percent of his torso. But when we're talking about how strange the Marvel Universe can be, he's not even in the conversation.

Maybe it was the purple and orange design that made MODOK look like a malevolent Easter egg. Maybe it was the innate hilarity of the phrase "designed only for killing." Maybe it was that he sometimes seemed like the one villain who was allowed to be incredibly silly while still being presented as a deadly mastermind. Whatever the reason, he went far beyond your average weirdo villain and became a true cult favorite, inspiring fanzines like the pseudo-scholarly Journal of MODOK Studies and occasionally wrangling his way into a starring role.

So, he's a cult favorite with a weird backstory who could show up to fight pretty much anyone, who's been characterized on every shade of the spectrum between silly goofball and world-beating threat. With all that in mind, what are the chances that he's going to show up in a Marvel movie someday? Well, they're probably better than you think

MODOK's incredibly weird mass media appearances

MODOK has never really been the go-to villain outside of the comics that he is on the page, but that hasn't stopped him from making a handful of appearances in media that's designed for people who don't necessarily have huge swaths of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe committed to memory.

He's appeared on a lot of the Marvel animated shows, albeit with some notable changes, starting back in the '90s with the Iron Man cartoon that made up half of The Marvel Action Hour. Aside from changing the "K" in his name to stand for "Konquest" — most later adaptations would just keep the original MODOC name to avoid saying "Killing" on a show for babies — the big difference there was in size. Rather than being a gigantic head perched precariously on top of a comparatively tiny body, he was shrunk down, with the end result being that he was about as big as your standard-issue toddler with a head the size of a basketball. Why they changed it remains a mystery, but given that the shows of the era were heavily tied into toy lines, it might've been that a slightly smaller-sized MODOK (or SSSMODOK) was easier to make as an action figure that could fit on the same size card as the rest of the line, which they actually did make back in 1995. Regardless of the reasons, it gave us the very memorable scene of a genocidal supervillain going undercover and being pushed around in a baby carriage.

Beyond that, MODOK's most surprising appearance probably came in the world of video games, when he was added to the roster of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds as a playable character. You might think that being a giant, easily targeted head with comparably tiny arms and legs would put him at a distinct disadvantage in a game about punching and/or kicking people in the face, and you would be right. Then again, that game also has two characters who routinely destroy entire planets and one guy whose superpower is that he can fight almost as good as Captain America, so character balance is all over the map in that thing.

He's already part of the MCU ... sort of

Out of all MODOK's various media appearances, the strangest might be the one where we find out he already technically exists in the MCU.

Okay, when we say that MODOK is technically already a part of the MCU, the word "technically" is doing a significant amount of heavy lifting. He has indeed made an appearance in an official installment of the MCU, but it's not one that most moviegoers would care about — or even know about. That's right. He's in Iron Man 3: The Official Game. See? It says "official" right there in the title!

Okay, fine, the video games are dubious at best when it comes to tying into the actual MCU, and when you get down to one that only showed up on phones, you're so far past the absolute fringes of what "counts" that it's hardly worth mentioning. After all, the games aren't so much "contradicted" by the movies as they are completely ignored by them, but they do give a few underrated characters a chance to get a little closer to the MCU than they would've otherwise. The Captain America tie-in games, for instance, have some really great deep cuts, like Diamondback and the only Marvel Universe acronym that's better than MODOK — the militant anarchist forces of U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. (the Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind).

As for MODOK, the version that shows up on the phone has an interesting twist to him. Instead of George Tarleton, this version of MODOK is Aldrich Killian, the mastermind behind Extremis who dies at the end of the movie. Apparently, he had a contingency plan, which involved backing up his brain and then becoming a MODOK to get his revenge. Unfortunately, he's among the worst-looking versions of the character. The proportions are all wrong — like, wrong for MODOK, that is — and his head just isn't big enough. That's like the number one thing you have to do for MODOK — make his head ridiculously big! If you ask us, this guy needs a redesign (only for killing).

MODOK is getting his own TV show

The biggest factor working against the Mental Organism's chances for showing up in a film is that he's actually getting his own TV show. No, really. It's an animated sitcom starring comedian/actor/well-known celebrity rat chef/total comic book nerd Patton Oswalt in the title role, and it will focus on MODOK's home life with his wife and kids as he faces a midlife crisis. No, really. That's happening. It'll be on Hulu later in 2020.

The setup of the show is that after failing to conquer the world despite many, many attempts, MODOK has lost control of AIM. Facing a forced early retirement, he now finds himself without a purpose in life, because, you know, he's literally designed to do one thing. (Killing. He's designed only for killing.) In addition to Oswalt, the show's cast should be pretty familiar to fans of TV comedy. Aimee Garcia, whose previous comic book-themed credits include playing crime scene investigator Ella Lopez on Lucifer, will be playing MODOK's wife, Jodie, who runs a mommy blog. Their two kids, high school senior Melissa and tween Lou, will be voiced by Melissa Fumero of Brooklyn 99 and Ben Schwartz, who may be best known as Jean-Ralphio on Parks & Recreation.

Originally, MODOK was set to be part of its own bizarre shared universe of animated shows, alongside fellow Marvel Universe oddballs Hit-Monkey, Howard the Duck, and the never-before buddy pairing of Tigra and Dazzler as "The Offenders." That deal wound up falling through, but MODOK will continue on, just without the shared universe aspect.

MODOK's 11 could be an awesome Marvel movie

All right, let's say that Marvel Studios does in fact want to work MODOK into their universe, but they don't want to use him as a villain for, say, a Sam Wilson Captain America movie because they're still worried that mainstream audiences won't take him seriously as a threat. Maybe they're worried that having a bad guy with a giant head fighting a superhero was the one, singular fatal flaw that turned audiences off of the Green Lantern movie. So how do they bring him in?

As always, the comics have provided an answer. As the success of Suicide Squad proved, audiences can get behind a heist story about a bunch of misfit supervillains, even when it lacks things like character development or coherence. If they're looking to do their own villain-centric action-comedy romp, then the MCU movies could do a lot worse than lifting the plot of 2007-'08's Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK's 11 by Fred Van Lente, Francis Portela, Terry Pallot, and Nate Piekos.

As you might expect from the title, MODOK's 11 involves MODOK putting together a team of C-list villains for a job that involves stealing a massive, potentially catastrophic power source called the "hypernova." None of the other characters involved have been in the films — unless that guy in Spider-Man: Far From Home actually was the Chameleon — but the basic idea of reuniting the MCU's surviving villains under MODOK's commanding cranium could make for a super fun movie. It could be the perfect vehicle to bring back minor characters like Batroc or the baddies who've been on ice due to a lack of sequels, like the Abomination.

The MCU could give us the MODO-Avengers

Let's say Marvel Studios wants to go a different way and fully embrace all the buck wild weirdness that comes along with a rocket-propelled giant head that wants to take over the world with his brain powers. There's a comic they could draw one from that, too, and it might just be the single greatest MODOK appearance of all time.

It happened in the pages of the kid-friendly Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9, written by Jeff Parker, with art by Juan Santa Cruz, Raul Fernandez, and Adriano Lucas. The premise of the story is simple. When the Avengers raid AIM's headquarters, MODOK uses his brain powers to lure them into a chamber that turns them all into MODOKs. The problem is that they're still the Avengers, so they break out in their own rocket-powered hoverchairs and just continue doing Avenger things. The funniest part is that while they carry on being superheroes, the public is completely weirded out by it, and everyone reacts with less cheering and more with just quietly being disturbed. Eventually, Wolverine's mutant power counteracts the MODOK transformation, and he's able to reverse it for the rest of the team before they decide to take over the world to run it more efficiently.

Let's be honest. This doesn't seem likely to make it into a live-action MCU project, but consider the following. Given how eager they were to finally move on from their rigorous, time-consuming Marvel roles, having Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. come back to voice computer-animated MODOK versions of themselves might be the only possible way to get those guys back for another MCU appearance. You know everyone's jealous of Mark Ruffalo for being able to live that sweatpants life since Thor: Ragnarok.