Written by: Adam Vaughn | November 17th, 2021
Hit-Monkey (Josh Gordon/Will Speck, 2021) 2½ out of 4 stars.
The latest Marvel output may not be as kid-friendly as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Hulu’s newest series, the 10-episode Hit-Monkey, certainly delivers epic sequences of good-versus-evil, compelling thematic content, and even a decent balance of comedy and action. Yet with all of its entertaining qualities, the show involves too much foul language and wry violence to be suitable for younger audiences, all the while not necessarily impressing the adults, either. While still wildly entertaining, Hit-Monkey doesn’t stand out as all that original, and at the end of the day is more just a money-grabber for Marvel Studios.
Hit-Monkey tells the story of Bryce (voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso), an infamous second-rate hitman who is hunted down and destroyed by the Japanese Yakuza. In the wake of his murder, “Monkey” (an actual snow monkey) witnesses his entire tribe slaughtered after giving Bryce sanctuary. With a common taste for revenge, Monkey and the ghost of Bryce team up to get revenge on those responsible for the murders that ruined each of their lives.
Overall, the show hits all the right notes in terms of beautiful animation, fun characters, some great plot twists, and mostly effective comedic timing, all of which help the viewer enjoy the story from start to finish. The relationship between Bryce and Monkey, as hero and sidekick, while comparable to Tony Stark/J.A.R.V.I.S or Eddie Brock/Venom, still has a fresh touch and brings many laughs. Every episode has enough breakneck pace to keep our interest, with several cameos by famous Marvel characters. To my surprise, even the show’s conclusion came with a bit of unanticipated moments that left much to be desired for a second season.
Unfortunately, Hit-Monkey undoes its entertainment value with a highly unoriginal premise, as well as an often-shifty script. The whole revenge-plot premise rings as a cliché, and the narrative’s arc plays out in the most predictable ways possible. Sudeikis as Bryce often gets a bit too improvisational, and given that his counterpart does not speak at all, the comedy tends to run its course by the end of specific episodes. The series’ violent sequences and profanity give it a limitation in terms of parental guidance, leaving directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Office Christmas Party) catering mostly to a preteen-to-adult audience. With limited iconic Marvel moments overall, it’s very possible that only the diehard Marvel-comics fans will be roped into following Hit-Monkey all the way through, even if it is frequently worth the ride.