Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.

Dept. of Marvel and Mergers


Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is mental.

Not just the latest Marvel show on Hulu (and on Disney Plus Hotstar, now it’s finally launched in Malaysia), but the Marvel character M.O.D.O.K., with his giant head and teeny tiny limbs. It’s mental. And not just because that’s his name. The Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing (M.O.D.O.K.!) has all the hallmarks of a Stan Lee Jack/Kirby joint, a wild concept wrapped up in that unmistakable Jack Kirby art.

Marvel at the Monstrous M.O.D.O.K.!

M.O.D.O.K. has been around in one form or another since the late 60s. Initially a super mutated scientist and antagonist for Captain America, he, along with his villainous scientific organizsation AIM, which made an MCU cameo in Iron Man 3, moved on to bother many of the other Avengers over the years.

While a semi ironic love of the character has developed over the years, (something I myself have been guilty of late) he’s never quite crossed over to the mainstream, until now.


With his bizarre appearance, and propensity for over the top proclamations, how on Earth were Marvel going to translate M.O.D.O.K. to television?

My Dinner with M.O.D.O.K.

The answer is three fold. 1) Make the whole show stop motion. 2) Make it a combination workplace/dysfunctional family sitcom. 3) Lean into the (ironic?) love that has developed for M.O.D.O.K. in recent years, and truly embrace the absurdity.

Unlike Star Trek: Lower Decks, another animated series tasked with bringing a new level of humour to a massive TV and movie franchise, Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. doesn’t try and situate these animated adventures in any “normal” part of its parent universe. 


M.O.D.O.K. is still the bellowing psychotic would-be dictator at the head of AIM. He still plots the destruction and/or humiliation of the Avengers, particularly Iron Man. He just does so with a wife, Jodie (Aimee Garcia), and two “lovely” kids, Lou (Ben Schwartz) and Melissa (Melissa Fumero), in tow. The genius of the show is that it never bothers to try and hide M.O.D.O.K.’s nature (how could you hide that giant floating head!?). Jodie and the kids know exactly what he does for a living and not only that, they fully support him! Any family issues that arise have nothing to do with his villainous goals and more to do with his failures as a husband and father.

On the workplace comedy side of things, it turns out that running a rogue villainous science organization is very much like running Dunder Mifflin, or the Parks Department of Pawnee Indiana, only with identically dressed AIM goons. As well as handling strife at home, his rocky relationship with Melissa, and trying to dissuade Lou from performing magic at his bar mitzvah, M.O.D.O.K. regularly encounters all the hassles that come with running a modern tech business. Sourcing funding, dealing with corporate takeovers, re-orgs, and fresh organizational red tape are just some of the obstacles he’ll have to face, or more likely, try ridiculously hard to avoid.

Mirth with M.O.D.O.K.?

So Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. has a great setup, a star in its protagonist, and a stellar voice cast with the regular players, bolstered by appearances by Jon Hamm, Nathan Fillion, Bill Hader, Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Tudyk and John DiMaggio. But is it funny?

Yes, yes it is.


As M.O.D.O.K., series co-creator Patton Oswalt’s good natured schlubby nerd persona mutates perfectly into megalomaniacal science fiend with relationship issues. The jokes come at machine gun speed and vary in targets, from digs at obscure Marvel lore (Fing Fang Foom!) to snarky asides that would fit in any sitcom, to more absurdist throwaway gags like the many off the self help tips that Jodie doles out as ways to “Jodify your life.” (“I keep all my socks in the crisper now!”)

Considering the time and effort required by stop motion, it’s impressive how well the series nails physical comedy, although maybe with some of the team from Robot Chicken on board, Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, and John Harvatine IV, maybe that’s to be expected.

It never really matters if a joke doesn’t land for you, there’ll be another six along in a second. The hit rate also feels a lot higher than with Lower Decks, and I got a bigger laugh from a prolonged set up and payoff related to calling an Avenger a “wet bitch” than I’ve had in many so called comedies in the past year. It’s a mark of quality for the show that while discussing it on this week’s episode of The Goggler Podcast, the team got lost in laughter for a few minutes, sharing some of our favourite moments.

Post Modern M.O.D.O.K.

That’s not to say that M.O.D.O.K. is just for laughs. While episodes air weekly on Disney+ Hotstar Malaysia, they are all available right now on Hulu and Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is a show that rewards binge watching. Plotlines involving M.O.D.O.K.’s marriage, the corporate takeover of AIM by “hip” tech company GRUMBL, M.O.D.O.K.’s rivalry with fellow mad scientist Monica Rappaccini (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Lou’s Bar Mitzvah, and the fallout from some time travel shenanigans early in the series involving Third Eye Blind, weave seamlessly in and out of the show, sometimes disappearing for episodes at a time. 


If I have one grumble about the show it might be that Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio in Parks and Recreation, Sonic the Hedgehog) might lean a little too hard into his regular shtick, coming across as a little too Ben Schwartzy for me; if such a thing can exist. It’s a minor complaint and is more than made up for by the fact that Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. brings to the screen a favourite antagonist of mine from an old Grant Morrison comic.

If you have no interest in the Marvel universe whatsoever, Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. might be a bit of a hard sell, but even if you just like some of the movies, that’s enough of an “in” to the series to enjoy its oddball charms.

Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is now available on Hulu and airs weekly on Disney Plus Hotstar Malaysia.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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