From protecting a lost love to saving his own miserable existence, MODOK’s best moments involved betraying Iron Man’s arch nemesis.
Nineties Iron Men The cartoon was a pretty … divisive version of the Armored Avenger. Known for the particularly poor quality of its first season, it was leaked with poor storytelling and sometimes ridiculous initial CGI attempts. Ironic given Iron Man’s current state, the series took an unflattering look at both its main hero and the cadre of cartoon villains he battled. One of those enemies was the maniac MODOK, who is generally seen as quite ridiculous even in the comics.
Despite his less than threatening appearance and equally ridiculous voice, MODOK was the last thorn in the Mandarin’s side at some crucial points throughout the series. From protecting a lost love to saving his own miserable existence, MODOK’s best moments involved betraying Iron Man’s arch nemesis.
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Enemy outside, enemy inside
The sixth episode of the show’s gruesome first season features one of several of the Mandarin’s stupid plots, with the green-skinned thug this time wanting to take over one of Tony Stark’s advanced ships. To intercept the ship, as well as James Rhodes and the Scarlet Witch inside, he has his henchmen attack a beach where a photoshoot is taking place. Turning the director to stone, the villains capture the supermodel and use her and another person as hostages.
MODOK realizes that this supermodel is none other than his ex-wife. Before becoming MODOK, he was a normal human scientist who unknowingly transformed into a mechanical monstrosity as revenge. Thus, he was forced to join the Mandarin, as he was the only one capable of pushing him back. Not wanting his wife to be hurt, he leaves the Mandarin and warns Iron Man of what will happen, on the condition that Iron Man will save the hostages.
This origin is different from the origin of MODOK in the comics, and ironically makes him one of the only deep and tragic villains in the series. However, it’s worth noting that the episodic nature of season one, and season two essentially ignoring much of its predecessor, meant that this development for MODOK didn’t mean much going forward.
MODOK’s next betrayal would be in his final appearance, which was also the end of the series as a whole. The two-part finale “Hands of the Mandarin” had the Mandarin, having regained the power of his alien rings, unleashing a reign of terror against the world’s technology. In exchange for supposedly freeing the world from the dominance of technology, he only asks that those in power hand him that power.
The Mandarin’s own base of operations is equipped with an anti-tech field, rendering even the most advanced machines inert. This includes the Mandarin’s own lackey MODOK, who is forced to turn to move with his rocket-powered propellant disabled. MODOK tries to stop the escaping Iron Man and War Machine, but they quickly point out that he is in worse shape than either of them.
MODOK allows them to escape, having been promised that they will be restored to full power when Iron Man inevitably defeats him. When power is finally regained, MODOK strangely proves that he was loyal to the Mandarin to the end. With the powerless Mandarin captured by the mountain bandits before their hands cut off, it is unknown what happened to his loyal, but stabbing associate.
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