Written by: Matt Patti | May 20th, 2021
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. (Alex Kamer/Eric Towner, 2021) 3 out of 4 stars.
M.O.D.O.K, or the “Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing,” is one of Marvel’s more notorious villains. Appearing in many comics and animated TV series, M.O.D.O.K. is a super intelligent being with an enormous head and a much smaller (in comparison) body, arms and legs who floats in the air thanks to his trusty hoverchair. He is the leader of the evil A.I.M. corporation, and his mission is world domination, or a world run by science in which he is the supreme ruler. Strangely, however, we’ve yet to see M.O.D.O.K. show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), or in any live-action Marvel endeavors. So, when I found out that he was getting his own series on Hulu, I was intrigued, as I didn’t know much about the villain and was excited to learn. However, much to my surprise, this series is more of a parody/comedy about the character. Throw everything you think you know about M.O.D.O.K. out the window, as this version is a much more human and sympathetic character who has his own family and encounters many issues we face today. At first caught off guard, I came to love this unusual take on the character and the very entertaining series, itself.
In Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K., the genius with the giant head has fallen on tough times. A.I.M. is almost bankrupt, with not even enough money to leave the lights on. Therefore, M.O.D.O.K. (Patton Oswalt, The Spine of Night) is forced to sell A.I.M. to Grumbl, a technology company with annoying modern-day corporate policies. M.O.D.O.K. and his A.I.M. employees retain their jobs, but M.O.D.O.K. is no longer in control and has to report to Grumbl’s hip, young CEO Austin (Beck Bennett, Greener Grass). This naturally frustrates M.O.D.O.K., used to being in power and getting anything he wants. However, M.O.D.O.K. has other issues to deal with, as well, that are arguably more pressing: his wife wants a divorce and his children are upset at the idea of their family falling apart. At the lowest point he’s ever been, does the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing have enough wits, and heart, to win back both his company and his family?
The humor in this series, as well as the animation style, is similar to that of Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken. If you enjoy that kind of comedy, you’ll likely enjoy this. I, for one, do, which is why I really had fun with this series. The jokes are not for everybody, though. They are often of the slapstick variety, and focus in on the same joke for a bit too long sometimes. But for me, at least, I think seeing a show about a supervillain take on this kind of humor is refreshing and produces great comedic results. There are also many laughs to be found in the show’s parody of a modern corporate environment, which many could relate to.
The series offers far more than comedy, though. In fact, the character development and plot are actually both very well done. M.O.D.O.K. struggles throughout the series to balance his family life and his goals of taking over the world, and this internal (and at times, external) conflict is compelling. M.O.D.O.K.’s motivations are at odds and it is intriguing to see what he decides to do in certain situations. Most of the 10-episode show are important and needed to progress the story along, with only one or two diversions.
Some of the negatives of the series revolve around its humor. It is very hit or miss, and while for me it was more hit than miss, it may not be the same for others, and there are certainly some duds when it comes to particular jokes or comedic sequences. Also, there are a few things that don’t make any sense at all, often played for comedic effect, that detract from the plot a bit. Finally, the conclusion, while a quality one in terms of character development, is not very impressive. There is little feeling of finality to it, and many issues are left unresolved. It seems as if the show is setting up for a second season, which, since I liked the show, I am fine with. However, I do believe that the show could have wrapped up in one season, and that perhaps a second is not necessary.
Overall, Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is a fun, humorous and also engaging and heartwarming take on the villain with well-developed characters and thought-provoking dilemmas. Marvel fans will surely enjoy this show, as there are references and some cameo appearances from many other fan-favorite MCU characters. However, I also believe that even those who know nothing about Marvel or M.O.D.O.K. can enjoy this series. I went in knowing next to nothing about M.O.D.O.K. and still found it to be a worthwhile watch. The series proves that even supervillains can struggle with common problems and can certainly earn some sympathy from the rest of us.