There was a ton of buildup prior to the Hulu release of M.O.D.O.K., but few truly knew how successful it would be given Marvel’s prior animation track record. There was a lot of hype, but nobody truly understood how successful this show could be as an adult animation special. But then last night happened and people finally saw that Marvel grasped what they needed to do to create an animated hit. M.O.D.O.K. is a genuinely great time and I’m not just saying that because they sent me an absolutely bitchin’ gift set. Having watched nearly half of it in less than 12 hours, I can honestly say that it’s an enjoyably good time and made me laugh on more than one occasion. It’s a blast packaged in a stop-motion animated box.
WARNING: Mild Spoilers Ahead
So, what exactly works with M.O.D.O.K.? It starts with the cast. The show was cast to perfection and Patton Oswalt and Aimee Garcia lead the way. Oswalt plays the titular character while Garcia plays his exasperated wife, Jodie, who is seeking to reinvent herself while M.O.D.O.K. tries to figure out what his life is going to be without A.I.M. after they are subject to a hostile takeover by GRUMBL at the start of the show. Beck Bennet plays GRUMBL’s boss, Austin, after he cons M.O.D.O.K. to gain the controlling interest of the show at the very outset.
Along for the ride are his two children, Melissa and Lou. Melissa is played by Melissa Fumero from Brooklyn 99. Ben Schwartz plays his youngest child, who is only twelve. While Lou is more fond of being curious, Melissa is determined to be as close to M.O.D.O.K. through her actions as possible. She wants to please her father and is determined to be his equal. All of this goes down as Jodie asks for a divorce.
Once you hit the recurring cast and Monica Rappaccini (Madame Hydra), you’re wandering into a stellar cast of characters. Jon Hamm voices Tony Stark, Wendi McLendon-Covey voices Rappaccini, Nathan Fillion voices Wonder Man, Whoopi Goldberg voices Poundcakes, Bill Hader voices Samuel Sterns and Angar the Screamer, and Kevin Michael Richardson voices Mr. Sinister, who is working on his own evil plan.
It’s sorta ridiculous how much fun this show combined with the cast. It’s a tremendous offering of how the beekeepers and M.O.D.O.K. function as a unit within the Marvel universe. It’s half comedic, half very serious with real implications when they want to do so. Don’t be fooled by the laughter and comedy, it covers a healthy amount of serious material, including divorce and being a single parent. It’s a wonderfully serious show packaged in laughter and incredible voice acting.
Animation is tricky to nail down for the adult crowd. Stop-motion animation is even trickier, but provides the show with a tremendous amount of opportunity. HBO Max had Harley Quinn, which was just tremendous. Marvel has solid kids animation, but they’ve also pulled the plug on some projects that fans didn’t quite understand. The best example of this is Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which was cancelled after two seasons and still ranks among the top shows for many fans.
M.O.D.O.K. enters at exactly the right time. Marvel has created tremendous world-building on the cinematic side of things, but during that time they neglected their animated side for the sake of creating the most ambitious project in cinematic history. They no doubt succeeded, but fans have been clamoring for more animated products ever since. M.O.D.O.K. represents the first phase in their animated side, they have What If? debuting later this year and an animated Guardians of the Galaxy holiday project. On the Hulu side, M.O.D.O.K. will be joined by Hit Monkey at some point.
All in all, Marvel seems to understand fans want to see a mix of real and animated. There’s so much you can do when you have Marvel’s library and not all of them are going to make sense or do well financially when it comes to some of their characters. That’s where the animated side comes in. Neither M.O.D.O.K. nor Hit Monkey would truly make a lot of sense if they were to have tried to do them as real-life products. Marvel has a number of truly fantastical creatures, but fans are going to draw the line somewhere. A monkey assassin is probably a safe place to do so if you’re a fan.
If you’re a fan of M.O.D.O.K. or Marvel’s more absurd side, this show is definitely for you. It’s an easy half-hour to enjoy, there’s not a ton of investment but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the stuff to say or that the show is devoid of any real meaning. There’s a balance and creators Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt have found that balance. They know what they are doing and more importantly, they know what they’re trying to say. You can accomplish a lot if you can do both of these things and M.O.D.O.K. handles it deftly.
If you’re looking for fun and laughter while you wait for the return of the MCU in July, M.O.D.O.K. has you covered. Just maybe avoid the coffee or M.O.D.O.K. if he happens to be talking to Austin. He may be impossible to account for if you do either of these things. Oh, and thank you for the glorious gifts, Marvel. You can count me among the sheep in A.I.M. Consider me a recruit for the show and the organizations.