The Avengers will face off against A.I.M in Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics’ Marvel’s Avengers, and while we’ve seen some of A.I.M’s forces in the beta and trailers, we have yet to see the true minds behind the organization that has filled the void since the Avengers disbanded. Now that’s all about to change, as we’ve got your exclusive first look at Marvel’s Avengers M.O.D.O.K. (aka George Tarleton) and Monica Rappaccini, who will be brought to life by Usman Ally and Jolene Andersen. Not only that, but we had a chance to chat with them about their characters and get some additional insight from Marvel’s Avengers creative director Shaun Escayg, and kicking things off we wanted to find out more about the role Monica plays in the story and who this dangerous woman really is.
“What I find so powerful about Monica is her genius, the fact that she’s such an incredibly brilliant scientist, and then on top of that she has that sociopathic streak, which I think comes from her intense intellect and that drive for experimentation and digging through things,” Andersen said. “She has this one-track mind in a way and that’s what I feel is her strongest point, and what makes her so powerful. Also her drive, her ability to manipulate everything around her. She is a perfect specimen of a person which makes her a perfect villain, I like that, and she comes in an unassuming bottle at the same time, I love all of that nuance with her and I don’t know if that’s her in a nutshell, but that’s how I feel about her.”
Tony Stark is often held up as the smartest person in the room, but now you have someone in Monica who can meet that high bar and battle him on his home turf as it were.
“Yeah and I love that. She’s like you’ve met your match… I appreciate that element too, and that she’s a woman and she’s brilliant and she doesn’t falter. If she’s ever afraid of anyone, it’s not them or that… I think the only time she ever shows vulnerability is with the Tarleton, MODOK. Outside of that, she seems definitely up to the task and I like that her confidence is admirable as well, and she should have confidence because she is pretty incredible,” Andersen said.
As for M.O.D.O.K., he starts off as George Tarleton, but a series of events and his own ego pave the way for his transformation into a, well, big head in a hover chair, and the character definitely surprised Usman upon being offered the role.
“When Shaun first talked to me about the character, I had no familiarity with M.O.D.O.K and so I was like sure, yeah. He was like, you’re going to be the villain… and Shaun and I worked together in a capacity where I played a villain for him before, so I understand the language, and so I said great, so who is it and what do they look like, that kind of stuff. He was like, you’re going to be this really big head at some point, and I was like oh… so it was definitely a bit of a shock, but really I think it’s the journey of the character that is the coolest part of the whole thing,” Ally said. “In terms of how George becomes this creature, this thing and how so much of it is driven by his ambition to help people, I think there is a genuine belief that what he is doing is for the betterment of human beings and that strong, strong sense of self and his position in society, wanting to do more, is what continues to drive him. I found that to be some of the really fascinating stuff and how that gets blasted with one’s ego or one’s own insecurities coming to the fore. He’s a very complex character.”
We’ve seen M.O.D.O.K. in other shows and projects before, though Marvel’s Avengers take isn’t going to be as extreme as some of those other interpretations.
“We were very fortunate, Marvel gave us the opportunity to read as much or as little as we wanted to, So they gave us access to quite a lot of the comics and anything else we might have needed,” Ally said. “I wanted to know more about him and those first few comics where you first see M.O.D.O.K and you’re right, some of that is rather extreme and some of the earlier cartoon versions of M.O.D.O.K are voiced by some exceptional voice actors, but the character is cartoonish in some ways and hard to take seriously.”
“Very early on, Shaun and I were talking about how everything needs to be rooted in the real with this character,” Ally said. “This is a real human who becomes something else, and even in those moments of extreme volatility and anger, there’s still a big human being who feels wronged, who feels like he wants what’s best for people, who genuinely has a messiah complex and so those are the things as an actor that are far more interesting to focus in on. I respect where the characters come from, but we have an opportunity to now create something different, and like you said, based in truth and reality, and it was exciting to be able to do that.”
“I would also add to what Usman mentioned earlier. From a storytelling standpoint, personally I don’t believe in heroes or villains in terms of the ideas. I think it’s perspective, people are put in situations and react or feel and then therefore labeled heroic or sometimes not when they’re the most heroic, probably doing awful things to survive,” Escayg said. “Likewise, villains, again I believe the truth behind every villain is a hero, someone who wanted to do something, live long enough as that hero you become the villain and a lot of these themes that we’re challenging in the writing is that, that’s all subjective, that’s all perspective. We all see our version of these heroes, villains, etc and even the whole theme of the game, what is this superhero? What does that mean? Is that dangerous or powerful beings? What is M.O.D.O.K but a guy in some ways trying to protect humanity and being corrupted by the self and the ego in doing that? So… and I believe that’s the truth behind all Marvel characters if we dig that deep.”
As for the organization of A.I.M. itself, the Marvel’s Avengers team wanted to make sure that they weren’t just an all-out evil conglomerate, but an organization based on a relatable and even altruistic principle that actually has a valid argument.
“When we disbanded The Avengers… they disbanded before in many various incarnations of this, but I wanted one where, not only did they disband because they felt a lot of guilt, etc, but that there was an answer to, or solution to, the loss of the superhero,” Escayg said. “So from a very high level the thing that this story is challenging is the idea of the superhero, are they heroic or dangerous, powerful beings? To get an equal argument, because of course you’d love to save the day and do things we all fantasize ourselves about being heroic in some sense. So the superhero idea is there, but what would be that answer to something that was so super powerful and so incredible of a power? Like lightning or polymorphing etc, and we wanted science to be that answer. And A.I.M, being historically founded in heavy science, and technology and advancement, that as the equal solution to humanity and protection of humanity to show in our story the rise of how an organization like that could come to power, could control and maintain power and all the different ideals or idealistic people that would come in and out of that organization, M.O.D.O.K being one of them.”
Fans will get a deeper look at what prompts Monica to go in a somewhat different direction from George, and this story is really forming the origins of their dynamic and relationship.
“In this story particularly, we’re setting their origins up,” Escayg said. “You have these two scientists, very passionate about the journey of science of how it can save humanity, and in that science is the key connecting tissue if you will, as that’s the thing that they connect on. When they start to divert… or divergence happens where the details of how they use that science and what they do with that science and what science represents to each of them, that is where they start to break apart.”
“If you saw some of the early A-day stuff, Monica convinces George to come aboard and to bring this Terrigen to The Avengers, because in that way we can increase our funding, it’s the dream that they both share,” Escayg said. “Protection for all, clean energy for all, this is what science can do and Monica is really rooting for George, and removing the ego from George for a second in this particular relationship. George’s ego is saying Tony Stark’s going to take all of my stuff and he’s going to copyright it and I won’t have control over it and I’ll be in the shadows as I’ve always been. That’s George’s headspace and Monica’s like no, forget that, big picture now. You have to play the game to get what you want, and in some ways they’re feeding off each other.”
“Likewise George’s ability to wield this pushes her experimentation,” Escayg said. “His ability to be that public-facing, scientist genius who’s found Terrigen and is now distributing it through A.I.M and technology through A.I.M, is what makes Monica get the library of Inhuman data that she needs to harness power. So they’re very mutually aligned at this stage in the story, and as the story progresses, we start to see that fray when George’s intent, as Usman mentioned, the savior complex. When that starts to take over, the split or starts to fray the relationship and that’s where we start to see the true intents of each of these characters. Now that we know that science glues them, what separates them and how does that constant clash throughout the story? In this particular story, we’re setting up this foundation of the relationships that you’ve talked about that happens in the future. So ours is the birth of these characters within A.I.M, how they were mutually aligned and start to now speak to the differences between them.”
You can get a look at both M.O.D.O.K. and Monica in the artwork above, and make sure to check out all of our Marvel’s Avengers coverage right here! As always you can talk all things Marvel’s Avengers with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.
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