Who would have ever thought that M.O.D.O.K. would ever be the star of his very own series? Though he’s considered one of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe, he’s far from an A-list villain. He’s achieved somewhat of a fan favorite status mostly due to his abnormal appearance. In the new Hulu show, creators Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt take us on some wild adventures with the leader of A.I.M.
Our protagonist’s efforts to take over the world have come at a high price tag to the point where his business faces severe financial problems. Tech company, GRUMBL, steps in to purchase A.I.M. and strips M.O.D.O.K. of any real power. If that weren’t enough, things begin to deteriorate at home and his marriage is on the rocks. The first season explores his attempts to regain his company while also improving his relationship with his family.
The writing is done pretty well with the mix of family sitcom along with the workplace comedy. There are amusing satirical takes on tech culture and influencers. Through Jodie, the matriarch of the Tarleton family, we see the extent people will go to achieve fame from using other people’s celebrity to exploiting her heritage.
The episodes follow a series of different hairbrained schemes and escapades but contain several overarching storylines such as the more nefarious reasons for GRUMBL’s interest in A.I.M. These different threads come together along with some callbacks to a fitting conclusion that helps set up a possible next season.
Because of his cartoonish appearance, it’s difficult to take M.O.D.O.K. seriously. The show takes advantage of that by portraying him as the flawed lovable loser although he has his jerk tendencies being very egotistical and selfish. Despite all the wacky stuff, it’s surprising how engaging his personal journey of connection and empathy towards those around him is. The storytelling does a good job humanizing this mutant that is basically a giant floating head and exhibiting his growth.
The voice cast is quite delightful. Oswalt can find the balance of insolence and heart required for the main character. Ben Schwartz brings both whimsy and maturity to son, Lou. Wendi McLendon-Covey helps her Monica Rappaccini exude frenemy vibes while Sam Richardson channels Veep’s Richard Splett in the loyal, optimistic but not too bright henchman, Gary.
One of the most entertaining aspects of M.O.D.O.K. are its ties to Marvel. You can really tell all involved love this world and enjoy playing in this sandbox. It’s a lot of fun visiting different corners of the universe and there are some deep cuts with the characters that appear. Sometimes it can be gratuitous fan service while others fit nicely into the narrative of the episode. There are plenty of Easter eggs and comic related puns and everything combined adds to the overall pleasure.
Like other Stoopid Buddy Stoodios stop-motion animated series, the humor can be immature at times and rely too much on nostalgia. However, visually, this is probably the most well polished and clean looking show they’ve produced. The animation is so smooth and there’s a lot of detail in the titular character’s facial emotions. Granted, there is a larger canvas to play with.
M.O.D.O.K. has the feel of a show made by fans for fans. It’s a blast exploring a less serious side of the Marvel comic universe but there is a surprising amount of depth and complexity to the story.
M.O.D.O.K. will be available to stream on Hulu beginning this Friday, May 21.
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