SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “The Return,” the latest episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have just introduced one of Marvel Comics’ more unusual characters: M.O.D.O.K. In “The Return,” the penultimate episode of Season 4, the LMD-turned-human Aida had a few chilling encounters with Anton Ivanov, aka the Superior. During one of these encounters, Ivanov told Aida that his “body is only designed for killing” — which uses the same phrasing as Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing and suggests that Ivanov could be a loose adaptation of the character of the same name.
Earlier in the season, Aida dismembered Ivanov and turned him into a Life Model Decoy like herself. However, in order that he retain all of his memories, she kept his head in a jar; this severed head is what powers Ivanov and his LMDs, allowing him to stay truly himself. Though M.O.D.O.K. isn’t technically “a head in a jar” in the comics, it would be easy to mistake him as one, as he looks like a giant head in metal casing. It would be difficult to adapt such a bizarre character on a series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it would certainly make sense for the series to take a different approach to the character’s look and tone.
M.O.D.O.K. and Ivanov have similar — if not the same — origin stories. In the comics, M.O.D.O.K. was an employee of Advanced Ideas Mechanics (AIM) who underwent an experiment that mutated him; he eventually went on to take over AIM as the Scientist Supreme. Likewise, Ivanov was the leader of his own shadowy organization before an experiment-gone-wrong transformed him into part man, part machine.
The similarities don’t stop there. M.O.D.O.K. cloned himself and a version of himself went on to become M.O.D.O.K. Superior, who claimed to have bred himself out of trauma and weakness. As such, M.O.D.O.K. shares a name with Ivanov, who went by the codename Superior in the first half of Season 4. Likewise, Ivanov made multiple LMD copies of himself in “The Return,” in a move similar to M.O.D.O.K.’s.
Of course, Ivanov’s similarities to M.O.D.O.K. could simply be Easter eggs. However, there’s enough there that it could be more than a coincidence. After all, M.O.D.O.K. and Ivanov also have similar power sets. Thanks to his mutations, M.O.D.O.K. has a computer-like memory and can retain large amounts of information, as well as solve complex mathematical problems with superhuman speed. As an LMD, Ivanov likely has similar abilities, as he is part machine.
Airing Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and more.