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Supervillains come in all shapes and sizes; some are giant and green, some have far too many arms, while others wear mechanical stilts to tower over their enemies. When it comes to abnormal evildoers, though, there’s one villain who’s ‘a head’ of the competition.
That villain is M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), one of The Avengers’ most deadly enemies, who uses his mutagenically enhanced genius to plot the downfall of democracy, world domination, and all sorts of evil shenanigans. He also has a massive head.
Beyond his frankly ludicrously large bonce, M.O.D.O.K has one more thing going for him; he’s the star of Marvel’s first-ever animated comedy series. M.O.D.O.K. (the show, not the character) is a weird but wonderful blend of the suburban sitcom, ‘Rick and Morty-esque’ sci-fi, topped off with a generous helping of all things Marvel.
Set in its own slice of the Marvel Universe, M.O.D.O.K. sees its titular villain trying to balance his personal life with the pressures that come with battling superheroes while battling to maintain control over his evil empire, A.I.M., which is facing a hostile takeover from the insidious tech company GRUMBL.
Created by Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt (who also voices the titular character), M.O.D.O.K is as bonkers as you’d expect (or at least the two episodes we saw were), with the giant-headed villain being a surprisingly effective comic lead for a guy whose hobbies include building death rays.
Speaking to UNILAD earlier this week, Patton Oswalt explained what it is about M.O.D.O.K. that made him the perfect main character to lead this show.
I love the fact that he’s as angry at the villains as he is at the heroes. He thinks he is being disrespected by the heroes of the Marvel universe, and also the other villains who don’t put him up with the likes of Doctor Doom, the Green Goblin, or Madame Mask.
I love that idea of frustrated C-level [villain] with pretensions of being A-level. He’s the kind of person who’ll go ‘not only am I going to destroy the world, I’ll also have a loving family because that’s what everyone else has’. M.O.D.O.K. gets to have everything, he doesn’t understand that you have to make choices. He refuses to do it, and I thought that tension would be really fun to play with.
Patton’s not wrong, there’s something surprisingly appealing about this version of M.O.D.O.K., and you can’t help but root for him. Be it when he’s celebrating his pathetic ‘triumphs’ over superheroes or getting one over on GRUMBL, while watching you want him to win.. even if his winning means the end of the world.
Marvel fans will, of course, love the show for its loving references to M.O.D.O.K.’s lauded comicbook history, and Patton promises that every episode is absolutely chock-full of references to classic Marvel stories.
M.O.D.O.K. isn’t just a show for hardcore Marvel zombies, though. There’s a zaniness to it comparable to the softer moments of Rick and Morty or Justin Roiland’s other work, Solar Opposites. In fact, it’s probably most comparable to something like Robot Chicken’s Star Wars specials.
Like those specials, M.O.D.O.K. is well aware of the inherent silliness of its central conceit, but rather than try and pretend a giant-headed supervillain in a hoverchair isn’t inherently ridiculous, it leans into it, which gives the series a real charm all of its own.
There’s just an earnestness to it that is surprisingly disarming. You can’t help but like M.O.D.O.K. and his weird family, although it helps that they’re all voiced by incredibly talented actors, including Lucifer star Aimee Garcia, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero, and Sonic the Hedgehog himself, Ben Schwartz.
Perhaps the best thing about M.O.D.O.K. (or at least this writer’s favourite part) is its animation. The whole thing is done in stop-motion, a tragically underused form of animation. It gives the whole thing a really unique aesthetic unlike anything else in the current stable of Marvel shows.
Patton, who clearly shares our enthusiasm for stop motion, admits they did consider going for a more traditional 2D style, but says ‘there was something about stop-motion’ that made the show feel more in line with what M.O.D.O.K.’s creator Jack Kirby would have wanted from a TV show about M.O.D.O.K.
M.O.D.O.K. might not be quite on the same level as Rick and Morty, but it’s got a lot of heart and is clearly a labour of love for Patton and the team. We’re glad they’re already teasing a second season and can’t wait to watch more of this truly odd little TV show.
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. will air on Disney+ in the UK from May 21.
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