Three Good Roles for One Actor
Peter Dinklage is rumored to be in Avengers: Infinity War.
We just don’t know as who.
He is rumored to play one of three completely different roles. The three possible roles are also completely different and, ironically, completely perfect for Mr. Dinklage. The roles are Pip the Troll, MODOK, or Uatu the Watcher. Each requires the talent and chops of a man like Dinklage for a decent performance.
Dinklage, known for his stellar work in Game of Thrones as Tyrion Lannister as well as countless other roles like Dr. Bolivar Trask from X-Men: Days of Future Past and Simon Bar Sinister from Underdog, is a perfect fit for the wisecracking, cigar-smoking, companion of Adam Warlock in the upcoming Infinity War arc.
He is also an excellent choice for the giant hovering head in charge of the evil Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) group. They were last seen in Iron Man 3 as the group Aldrich Killian worked for. MODOK is basically a brain with limbs. He is a Marvel Universe mainstay that has been around since Captain America was defrosted back in the sixties.
Lastly, Dinklage would add an air of power and quiet alien intelligence to Uatu the Watcher – a character sworn to watch over Earth but sworn never to interfere with humanity’s potential. The Watcher was a creation of Jack Kirby’s ever since he warned the Fantastic Four about Galactus and the Silver Surfer. He’s also the narrator for what could have been in the pages of What If?.
Here’s what you should know about these characters.
Pip the Troll
So few people know or remember Pip from the comics. He is one of those characters who seem to litter the Marvel Universe as part of some insane archetype. Created by Jim Starlin to be a comic sidekick in the Warlock series, he’s like Howard the Duck, Puck, Wolverine, and every other obnoxious cigar smoking naughty little man that comes from Danny Devito’s least loved roles generated into a comic book.
(Note: I hear comic fans grumbling about the Wolverine reference. They should know before Hugh Jackman, the part almost went to actor, Bob Hoskins. Wolverine is a hairy little man of indeterminate age who stands at around five foot two.)
I remember the first I’d ever heard of him was while reading through The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Volume I – Book of the Dead and Inactive II – Marvel Boy to Zuras back in 1984. By the time I’d read about Pip, his character had been dead since Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 in 1977.
Starlin’s Warlock series is fantastic and worth reading. Everything you need to know about the upcoming characters of the Infinity War story can be found in The Essential Warlock – Vol One and The Essential Captain Marvel – Vol Two. In that, you will learn everything about Warlock, Pip, Gamora, Thanos, and Drax the Destroyer as Starlin originally wrote them.
How the Marvel Movie franchise will introduce Pip and what role he will play in the saga remains to be seen. I would lay bets that any story to materialize for Avengers: Infinity War will be a far cry from the comic book version. All the buzz about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 seem to make Adam Warlock an ancillary character. Readers know the main players are Warlock, Thanos, The Silver Surfer, Mephisto, Nebula, and Death. While the Avengers (and all surviving members of the Marvel Universe) were in the story, they chiefly served as cannon fodder while the real battle was fought between Warlock (with the higher powers of the Marvel Universe – Galactus, Odin, Zeus, The Stranger, Lord Order and Master Chaos, and Eternity) and Thanos.
Mythologically, you can trace Pip’s origin story all the way back to Celtic fairy lore. The Celts warn people should never eat or party with fairies – bad things happen. The consequences might be never enjoying human food again or waking up with your great grandchildren or being transformed into an actual fairy.
The last thing is sort of what happened to Pip.
Pip was originally Prince Gofern of the planet Laxidazia. Laxidazians are almost identical to earth humans with five fingers and toes. As a prince, he was a member of the idle rich who spent most of his time painting pictures of the night sky and doing rich people stuff. While walking through the planet’s countryside, he came upon a camp of trolls. Trolls are a genetic subgroup of the Laxidazians. He was invited to drink and carouse with them and, unfortunately, drank some of their ale.
After a long night of partying, he woke up as a troll. The ale mutated him. His feet became hoof-like, his ears grew pointed, and two of his fingers merged together. As a troll, his very nature changed as he became more lewd and obnoxious. When he returned to his families castle, he tried to hide his changes but he couldn’t.
He became a jerk – so he was exiled.
When the Universal Church of Truth, a galaxy-wide religious cult, failed to convert Pip (trolls are naturally resistant to the conversion process), he was sentenced to death. There, he met Adam Warlock and escaped. The two became fast friends and shared many adventures together. Eventually, they vanquished the church before they parted and Pip returned to his life of licentiousness.
Someone like Pip can’t stay out of trouble long and he sought out Adam Warlock. Instead, he found Thanos the Titan. Thanos, in keeping with his character, used a fraction of his power to lobotomize Pip, critically wounding him. Warlock found Pip’s body and used the power of his soul gem (one of the Infinity Stones that has yet to be revealed in the Marvel movies) to bring his soul into its pocket universe with the rest of the souls the stone had “acquired”.
For the longest time, this had been the full history of Pip’s life. It wasn’t until years later (1991), that Pip, Warlock, and Gamora resurrected themselves from the soul gem to fight Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet.
Pip’s one major power is the ability to transport himself anywhere in the universe because of his prolonged exposure of the “space” infinity gem (seen in the first Avengers film).
As a character, Pip is an obnoxious, drunken, cowardly jerk. He is rarely seen without a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other. Think Tyrion Lannister on a normal day without the class or intelligence.
M.O.D.O.K. – Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing
The super scientists over at Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), back when they did nothing but wear hooded masked yellow jumpsuits, decided the best computers are made from people. Lyle Getz, who was in charge at the time as the “Scientist Supreme” thought it would be a great idea to take low-level employee, George Tarleton, and scientifically transform him from being a normal human being to essentially a giant head with arms and legs.
Initially, AIM, an organization that clearly loves their acronyms, wanted Tarleton to be like an organic computer. Considering that the human brain is one of the best processors on the planet and better than most computers, AIM wanted someone to do some really organic computing. So the first thing they did after transforming Tarleton into a biological mental monstrosity was give him the acronym: MODOC – Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing.
Only there was an itty bitty problem, Tarleton never wanted to be a hideous giant head in a hover chair – leave alone that his job was to do nothing but think of ways to probe their new cosmic cube discovery. He was more than a little pissed. Tarleton used his vast psionic mind beam powers to kill the scientist supreme and took over AIM as their new leader. When he did, he changed his acronym from MODOC to MODOK – Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.
MODOK has been in charge of AIM (on and off) since Tales of Suspense #93. Like most things in the Marvel Universe, he was a creation of both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance fighting Captain America.
Outside of being an oversized brain that can calculate the hell out of any problem and generate lethal telekinetic force beams from his forehead, he has some limited telepathic powers. It’s nothing on a Professor Xavier level, but enough to read the state of mind of any individual.
Should this be what Peter Dinklage is signing on to do – which is logical because MODOK has typically been an archenemy of Captain America, Marvel will be doing a lot of CGI work. I think Dinklage would do this part justice as he has typically played intellectual characters like Tyrion Lannister and Doctor Bolivar Trask.
Uatu the Watcher
Let’s pretend for a moment you’re a near-omnipotent being from a race of near-omnipotent beings. Millions of years ago, your race, a bunch of big headed smarty-pants beings, discovered immortality by learning how to change their physical form into pure energy. Since you guys are now the smartest guys in any room, you all decide it’s your sworn duty to help other races less fortunate than you.
Isn’t that nice?
In their first time out, these big-brained god people gave the secret of atomic energy to a warlike race that just wasn’t ready for that kind of power. Then, faster than you can say “big red button”, that race launched nukes on a neighboring planet of superior technology that retaliated immediately by blasting them to kingdom come.
That’s what happened with the Watchers. They decided after that failure they wouldn’t use their vast intelligence and powers to help others. Their mission is much like Star Trek’s prime directive of noninterference. They are scattered throughout the universe and monitored everything – including alternate realities.
Uatu was the Watcher assigned to watch everything on Earth from the “blue area” of the moon. He made his first appearance back in Fantastic Four #13 and is another Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation. In his first appearance, he broke his noninterference oath by warning Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, of the coming of Galactus.
For the most part, readers don’t see Uatu often. He only makes appearances when things are really, really bad. Often, it is the mere presence of Uatu that shows heroes the gravity of their situation. While Uatu has broken his oath several times and has had to answer for it in a trial, he’s remained at his post until the 2014 story, Original Sin.
Whether Marvel Studios will use this character remains to be seen as he’s chiefly part of the Fantastic Four universe which is owned by 20th Century Fox Studios. Uatu, while being part of the Fantastic Four universe, is not exclusive to that superteam. It’s fair to say that Uatu would certainly be part of an Avengers: Infinity War level event as Thanos represents a galactic level danger.
Uatu, as a character, has an emotionally distant façade. Given that he’s broken his oath multiple times, he is sympathetic to Earth and its people. Peter Dinklage could play this character with the proper emotional reserve and compassion needed to portray a being who cares very much for something in almost parental concern but is sworn to let his charge make its own mistakes.
Peter Dinklage is an incredibly talented actor who can play any of these characters equally well. The big question is how Marvel will go about writing one of these characters into the movie.
The original comic book synopsis of the Infinity Gauntlet is about Thanos’ pursuit to please the living embodiment of Death. She simply thinks there are too many people living and no one kills planets, people, and civilizations better than Thanos. She brings him back from the dead to eliminate fifty percent of the universe’s life.
As a counterpart to Thanos, the universe answered back with Drax the Destroyer (seen in The Guardians of the Galaxy) who relentlessly attacks Thanos like antibodies to an infection. In addition to this, Adam Warlock, who heroically gave up his life to his soul gem after Thanos killed him in personal combat, returns, too – with Pip, and Gamora.
To eliminate half the universe, Thanos formulates a plan to gather the six infinity gems. Doing that will give him power over time, space, soul, mind, power, and reality – essentially making him God once he can use them all together. He is later joined by Mephisto (the Devil of the Marvel Universe) in an almost Faustian way. Eros, also known as Starfox, and Nebula, self-proclaimed granddaughter of Thanos, have been taken prisoner as well and have been left alive only to be tortured.
Meanwhile, Uatu the Watcher appeared to all of the surviving heroes of the Marvel Universe to tell them what’s up in an oath breaking act. Adam Warlock joins them as their leader with his plan to defeat Thanos.
That’s what happens in the comic book story.
It’s not likely to happen in whatever story Avengers: Infinity War turns out to be. It never is. While Pip the Troll is a player in the comic book story, it is unlikely he’ll be part of this story without Adam Warlock. The character of MODOK is likely to be part of a Captain America storyline, however, it is unlikely that MODOK would be part of such a cosmic-spanning event which will certainly involve the Guardians of the Galaxy. If the writers use MODOK, he will be a side story to the plot.
And The Winner Is…
It is highly likely that Dinklage will be playing Uatu the Watcher. He’ll be cast to warn Earth about Thanos and the Infinity Stones. As Thanos gathers all of the stones throughout the first movie, he’ll probably be fought and overcome in the second part of the story arc. In either case, the Watcher will be there to offer either a warning or some kind of cryptic advice.