Originally Posted by chamber-music
You could just make Zola look like Cain from Robocop 2. Audiences wouldn't find a design like that hard to take seriously.
I've imagined Modok as a shadowy figure with glowy eyes silhouetted against a vast bank of computers and engineering for most of a hypothetical movie, until the very end where he disengages himself from the bank he was plugged into, amidst spark and explosions, ripping out wires plugged into his body and pasty, shrunken useless limbs and emerging to fight Cap or whomever.
Emphasize that he's a freakish science experiment gone horribly wrong, and make him gross and SCARY! rather than humorous.
Making him suitably monstrous is the key.
Like Vera, but with less 80's cheese: