Marvel’s original Iron Man movie plans in the 1990s would have introduced MODOK as a villain, but the project never materialized. High-profile actors like Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise were considered for the role of Tony Stark in the 1990s Iron Man project. MODOK’s inclusion in a 1990s Iron Man film would have made sense given his history as a recurring foe of Iron Man in the comics.

Marvel’s original Iron Man movie plans would have featured an iconic villain, whose actually introduction to the MCU was ruined 30-years-later during Phase 5. Long before Marvel Studios kicked off the MCU with 2008’s Iron Man, a number of different studios set plans in motion to develop an Iron Man project during the 1990s. Although Universal Pictures bought Iron Man’s film rights in 1990, no movie was developed and the rights were sold to 20th Century Fox in 1996. Long Hello and Short Goodbye and I, Robot writer Jeff Vintar worked with Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee to draft a script, which would have included one obscure Marvel Comics foe.

Since his debut in 2008’s Iron Man, Tony Stark has become synonymous with Robert Downey, Jr., but several high-profile actors had previously expressed interest in donning the superhero armor in the 1990s. Nicolas Cage – who went on to star in 2007’s Ghost Rider – expressed interest in portraying Stark, but Tom Cruise was Fox’s favorite, ultimately leading to theories that Cruise would appear as an Iron Man variant in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga. While Iron Man’s film rights would later be sold to New Line Cinema before reverting to Marvel Studios, Fox’s proposed Iron Man project would have introduced one of Marvel Comics weirdest villains opposite Cruise’s Tony Stark.

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MODOK Was Almost A 1990s Iron Man Movie Villain – But Appeared 3 Decades Later

Jeff Vintar’s script for 20th Century Fox’s Iron Man project in the 1990s would have seen Tony Stark go head-to-head with Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), the organization led by Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian in 2013’s Iron Man 3. Instead of Killian, however, Fox’s Iron Man project placed MODOK as the leader of AIM. Marvel Comics’ Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing was first introduced in 1967’s Tales of Suspense #94 as the deformed but genius employee-turned-leader of AIM George Tarleton. MODOK debuted as a recurring foe of Captain America, but faced Iron Man on several occasions, so his inclusion in Fox’s Iron Man film would have made sense.

After Vintar’s script was rewritten by Jeffrey Caine in 1999, and Iron Man’s film rights were sold to New Line Cinema that December, plans to include MODOK in Stark’s feature film debut evaporated. After Marvel Studios kicked off the MCU, there were attempts to introduce MODOK, particularly in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier – where he was replaced by Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce – and in Agents of SHIELD with Zach McGowan’s Anton Ivanov, a.k.a. the Superior. MODOK finally appeared in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, though his origin was changed to be Corey Stoll’s Ant-Man villain Darren Cross, who had been transported to the Quantum Realm.

How The MCU Wasted MODOK 30 Years After His First Movie Plans

Despite being a strange villain in Marvel Comics, MODOK is one of the longest-running adversaries to many of Marvel’s heroes. This strength and longevity may have been displayed in Fox’s Iron Man film, with him being introduced as the highest-ranking figure of AIM. These plans were completely wasted in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, however, as MODOK’s questionable appearance and position as servant to Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror turned the menacing foe into a joke. It was perhaps a good choice to use Darren Cross as the MCU’s MODOK, but the villain’s inclusion in an Iron Man project in the 1990s may have given him more substance and power.

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 A 1990’s Iron Man wanted an iconic Marvel villain.  Read More