Review by Sean Boelman
Although the Marvel television shows that have gotten the most buzz have come from Disney+ (and previously Netflix), there are other content-makers putting out great Marvel-based content. Streamer Hulu is behind the adult animated show Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. which, while lacking the bite of the medium but still somewhat edgy, is entertaining when it is allowed to do its own thing.
The series follows genius supervillain M.O.D.O.K. as he struggles to balance family life with his corporate plans to take over the world. A lot of it plays out like a sitcom, certain portions even feeling like an animated workplace comedy, but these bits of parody are nowhere near as effective as the dark humor that flows through a few of the episodes.
There is a very nice flow to the season, each of the ten twenty-five minute episodes building nicely into a compelling overall arc, yet having compelling individual conflicts of their own. Admittedly, this batch of episodes does peak early though, with the third episode being the funniest of them all.
A recent trend in comic book media has been to turn villains into anti-heroes, and some examples are more successful than others. Although M.O.D.O.K. is a compelling character, there was still a lot of room for his inner arc to be explored. Unexpectedly, the villainous corporate pencil-pusher has a more complete and satisfying development than the eponymous character.
If there is something left to be desired by this show, it is that there isn’t enough world-building. One of the great things about animation is that it can be expansive and creative. Apart from two or three episodes that tie in characters from other worlds, the series doesn’t do much in that regard. It feels like another superhero property, just in an animated format.
That isn’t to say that the series doesn’t look good — the animation style is great and can create a sense of humor even when the writing is lacking in laughs. And there are a few really strong set pieces, including the big epic one in the finale, that are quite fun to watch thanks to the energy of the visual style.
Of course, the voice cast is also a highlight of the series. Patton Oswalt gives a memorable turn as the titular B-grade supervillain, elevating the character from the ridiculousness of the comics into something genuinely fun. And in the supporting cast, Aimee Garcia, Ben Schwartz, and Beck Bennett all do a great job.
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. may not quite break out of the Marvel mold to deliver truly great adult animation, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s undeniably fun, and the level of passion the cast and crew have for the project is infectious.
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. streams on Hulu beginning May 21.