Corey Stoll grounded his performance in Quantumania as MODOK using Shakespeare's Hamlet, trying to bring pathos and drama to an otherwise absurd character.
In the MCU, when special effects fly around the screen and explosions are everywhere, it can be hard to ground a character. In Corey Stoll‘s case, that task was even more difficult by the absurd design of Quantumania’s MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) since he’s a giant head with tiny limbs. Talking with Collider, the star explains that he was influenced in his performance by Shakespeare’s greatest play, Hamlet, to bring grounded drama to his most absurd scene.
If you have not seen Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, stop now, as the rest of the article will include spoilers.
Corey Stoll is reprising his role as the villainous Darren Cross from the first Ant-Man. Audiences never saw Yellowjacket die on-screen, and the old comic book maxim “if there’s no body, they’re alive” proved true. Reborn as the deformed MODOK in the quantum realm, Cross now leads Kang’s forces as his general. The sadistic character is also a bit of a jerk, and during a battle with Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), the villain resolves to mend his evil ways and will not be “such a dick.”
In the next moment, MODOK is killed, which is what prompted Corey Stoll to reveal his inspiration: “It was funny because we were all laughing a lot because it’s so ridiculous, but it’s still a death scene and we still had to play it for real, to some extent. I think in Darren’s mind this is the end of Hamlet and he’s saying goodbye to Horatio. And obviously from the outside he’s this grotesque fool.”
Quantumania is not Hamlet, but it’s also not nearly as gruesome as Titus Andronicus, resulting in MODOK’s tragic death immediately being played for laughs. This time, Darren Cross is truly dead, and Corey Stoll’s time in the MCU is at an end, barring any multiverse tomfoolery. At least Stoll enjoyed playing the bizarre character, explaining “One of the great things about just being a sort of disembodied head is it gives you license to turn on a dime. It’s a mask and so you can just go in any direction and it all sort of works.”
The rest of the Quantumania cast, which includes Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors, Bill Murray, and David Dastmalchain, had to act the old fashion way: with full bodies. Coming off a disappointing year of movies, the third Ant-Man is already in trouble at the box office. In its second week of release, the film set a new record for the biggest box office drop in MCU history, despite making over $300 million worldwide.
Wherever the MCU goes from here, especially following the ending of Quantumania, which sadly, contained no last-minute saving of MODOK, it did introduce the Council of Kangs. Variants of Kang, including Immortus, Rama-Tut, and The Scarlet Centurion, gather to discuss what to do about the main MCU reality messing around with the multiverse. A clear setup for the Kang Dynasty, it’s unknown when any of the characters in the film will be seen again, will Marvel hold off until the next big crossover?
Or, as the very last credit scene implies, will the next big part of Phase 5 not be a film at all but rather the second season of Loki on Disney+? Only time will tell; as Quantumania explained, Kang has plenty of time.