Quantumania: Why Corey Stoll Came Back and Michael Peña Didn’t
There are some interesting changes in the cast of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
If you’ve watched Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, you might notice that the cast of the film is somewhat different from that of the first two Ant-Man movies. The main quartet of characters—Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer)—remains the same, and Scott’s daughter Cassie is also back, now played by Kathryn Newton.
Quantumania also introduces a slew of new characters, such as big bad Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) and the inhabitants of the Quantum Realm. But missing this time are the members of Scott Lang’s X-Con Security crew of thieves-turned-security-experts, including Kurt (David Dastmalchian), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris) and, most significantly, Luis (Michael Peña).
Dastmalchian actually has another role in Quantumania, as the voice of the gooey red creature Veb, while Harris has been embroiled in allegations of sexual abuse since 2021. As for the beloved Luis, whose hilarious escapades and fast-talking recaps of plot points in the first two Ant-Man movies made him one of the films’ most popular characters, director Peyton Reed told Den of Geek that a role for Scott’s best friend was initially discussed early in the development of Quantumania.
“In some of our earliest script meetings where we were talking about what the movie was going to be, we talked about that at the beginning,” says Reed. “But there’s so many characters to service here,we already have our immediate family to deal with and then introducing Kang. Plus we wanted to meet some new characters down there. A part of me felt like, you want to turn the page on some of this stuff and show the audience something different.”
Also missing in addition to Luis is Scott’s ex-wife Maggie, played by Judy Greer in the first two films, as well as her current husband, Jim, portrayed by Bobby Cannavale. Both were integral to the first Ant-Man, a little less so in Ant-Man and the Wasp, and are not present at all in Quantumania, just like Luis and the X-Con Security crew.
“I love those characters,” Reed adds. “I always love those characters. But there just wasn’t a place for them in the movie, and had we tried to shoehorn them in there, I think it would have felt rushed and not organic to the movie.”
One character who does return for Quantumania—after sitting out Ant-Man and the Wasp—is Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll, although he resurfaces in quite a different form than we last saw him. In Ant-Man, Cross is a protégé of Hank Pym who forces the latter out of his own company and plans to sell the Pym Particles shrinking technology to Hydra. Donning his own suit and becoming Yellowjacket, he ultimately loses a battle with Scott Lang and is shrunk rapidly and uncontrollably until he vanishes into the Quantum Realm.
As Quantumania begins, Cassie’s device to map the Quantum Realm allows Cross to lock onto the Ant-family and draw them down there where they discover that the physically damaged Cross has been mutated by Kang into a hybrid of human and machine known as a Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing, or M.O.D.O.K.
Marvel Comics fans, of course, know that MODOK has a long history in print, dating back to 1967, while the character, with his oversized head, atrophied limbs and mechanical harness, has been a candidate for inclusion in the MCU as early as the first Iron Man movie (he also starred in the acclaimed 2021 animated series produced by Marvel Television for Hulu, where he was voiced by Patton Oswalt).
His origin story, however, has been significantly changed for his live-action debut in Quantumania, to allow fans to discover the fate of Darren Cross.
“From the jump, we knew that the shrinking that you see happen at the end of Ant-Man, where Darren goes in the Quantum Realm, was a very satisfying conclusion to that villain,” says producer Stephen Broussard.
“But it also felt like it could be a hanging chad a little bit,” Broussard continues. “It always felt like a little bit of a no-brainer to us that maybe he went to the Quantum Realm, and maybe he looks like MODOK because of what happened to him. That was always just a germ of an idea that we had from way back, and as we built the movie, he became Kang’s henchman, his Igor in a lot of ways.”
Once it was decided that MODOK would be the mutated remnants of Darren Cross, it was a matter of getting Stoll back onboard, which didn’t require a particularly hard sell.
“Corey reads comics, so when Peyton called to tell him this, he knew,” Broussard says. “Imagine not knowing what MODOK is, and getting that call and having that pitch explained to you: ‘So it’s just going to be your head, floating.’ But Corey got it and was giggling. He totally was down for it. He knew what it meant.”
It meant that we got to see Darren Cross, or at least his deformed cranium, one more time in the MCU where no good character ever sits unused for very long. Perhaps even Luis will be back one day…
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is out in theaters now.