‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’: Dive into the Mind of M.O.D.O.K.
"Nothing scarier than playing a giant floating head.”
In Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man, Darren Cross is, unfortunately, no match for Pym Particles. Darren is blasted to subatomic parts unknown at the end of the movie, after going up against Scott Lang’s Ant-Man. What happened? Where is he? Where did he go?
Corey Stoll was bummed to find out that his character would not continue past the first Ant-Man movie, but there was a small glimmer of hope for him. “I remember at the premiere, Kevin Feige came up to me and he said, ‘I saw you driving down the street near where I live and I thought, I know how to bring him back.’ He didn’t tell me what it was, and I don’t know if he meant this, but that always sort of stuck in my head. You know it’s possible to bring you back.”
And back Darren Cross is, though please, call him M.O.D.O.K. — that’s the Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. In Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, it’s revealed that Darren was blasted down into the Quantum Realm where he was found, and rehabilitated, by Kang. Now serving as his “hunter” of sorts, M.O.D.O.K. is at Kang’s every beck and call ready to do whatever needs to be done.
Stoll was not expecting a call to return to the MCU but was thrilled when his phone rang. “It really came out of nowhere when Peyton reached out,” He explains. “When they were still just starting to write it, they wanted to make sure that I was up for it before they wrote the M.O.D.O.K. storyline. When he said M.O.D.O.K. — like, once you see an image of M.O.D.O.K., and you hear that name, M.O.D.O.K., you don't forget it. Like, he's singular in literature. I was 100% on board from the beginning. I think the way to tell if a role is something you should do is if it scares you, it's probably a good idea. So, it's nothing scarier than playing a giant floating head.”
“The fact that not only did we get to do M.O.D.O.K., but to do this version of M.O.D.O.K is just the absolute joy of the movie for me,” Writer Jeff Loveness explains. “I think that's also a joy bringing back the trilogy full circle. A lot has happened since [the first] Ant-Man.”
And now, after all this time apart, Darren Cross is reuniting with his enemy/someone he considers a brother (…?) once again in the Quantum Realm hoping for some sort of payback.
“To a guy like M.O.D.O.K., he doesn't even know Scott's an Avenger,” Loveness continues. “Imagining seeing Scott Lang after like 10 years. He's an Avenger. He's time traveled with Captain America twice. He's dating Hope. They're in love. Hank respects him. He's got everything Darren would ever want, and Darren is just like a big head. That to me he felt like a really rich opportunity for comedy and to kind of get the ethos of M.O.D.O.K., but then also kind of tie it into our trilogy."
This meant that Stoll had to jump back into the role he originated back in 2015, but with a huge, major twist — and a lot of motion capture.
“[Corey was] totally down for it. He understood what it is, and he jumped in and has participated at every step of the complex technical process with scanning and doing his performance in a motion capture field.”
Stoll came in and shot a majority of his M.O.D.O.K. scenes before principal photography even started on the movie, performing in a “rehearsal” type space with the rest of the cast and creative team. This not only helped get a jump start on digitizing Stoll’s face to create the giant floating head but also recorded his lines so they could be used throughout the rest of filming, too, helping to set the scene down in the Quantum Realm.
“The whole thing was very organic,” Stoll continues. “I showed up, I had like two days right before they started principal photography where I got the dots on my face and put the helmet with the camera, and we sat around with the whole cast, and Peyton and [writer] Jeff [Loveness] around tables, and my performance was being captured. We were just going through the scenes. But because there was no setup, there's no lights, there's no cameras, there's no sets, there's no costumes, there's really nothing to break [the creative] flow. It really felt more like doing a workshop of a new play than filming something.”
Even though the cameras weren’t rolling, that didn’t stop Stoll from getting completely into the story and going for it. For some scenes, Stoll wore a neck brace to mimic the fact that M.O.D.O.K. has no neck. “He’s just one giant humpty dumpty and so if there’s somebody over here he needs to talk to, and if there’s somebody over there, he has to [move his whole body] and that has a lot of comedic potential in it.
The whole cast even got in on it, too, as if someone had just yelled action.
“If it felt like the scene needed it, we would get up and move around,” Stoll continues. “Even though, obviously, M.O.D.O.K. can't really move around in the way that I can." And the final M.O.D.O.K. product is — as Scott Lang even jokes in the movie — “a big face.”
“You see Corey in it, but it also feels a little M.O.D.O.K. so your brain is kind of like processing both sides of it." Broussard said. "But you feel Corey, and that iconic, deep voice I think comes through so, so clearly.”
Stoll is thrilled to see the end performance with his big head and tiny little body, knowing that this is just the next step in the progression of his original character, calling him “just more Darren.”
“He’s scarier, and he keeps on calling himself the ultimate weapon and it's sort of funny and pathetic in a way, but he really is this one-man battleship. This unstoppable killing machine, and he’s also sort of an emotional open wound, you know he’s buffeted by his insecurities and his need to impress, and his desire to make himself bigger and grander and stronger than he really is.”
BIG and small things await! Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters.
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