M.O.D.O.K. TV REVIEW: Marvel's animated villain sitcom is bold, bloody, profanity-filled
Created by Jordan Blum and Patton Oswald. Written by Jordan Blum, Patton Oswald, Geoff Barbanell, Itai Grunfeld, Brett Crawley, Robert Maitia, Cullen Crawford, Lauren Sodja Otero and Yolanda Carney. Directed by Eric Towner and Alex Kramer
M.O.D.O.K., family man and supervillain. After being ridiculed at a young age, he vows to change the world. Now married with two children, he has to navigate the financial takeover of his company as well as dealing with a divorce. A divorce that’s not just affecting him, but also his children. All while battling his nemesis, Iron Man.
Animation has been around for well over a century. While it’s not a new concept for the medium of tv or film, animation catering towards the adult market is still relatively new. You could definitely argue that The Simpsons, which started back in 1989 with a family friendly writing style, also had jokes and themes that would resonate with the adult audience. Over the years, this medium has grown to have animated shows just for mature audiences. The popularity of shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and Rick & Morty have carved out a specific piece of the market that is now thriving. It was only a matter of time for other companies to get involved. Marvel is no stranger to animation, doing cartoons for children as long as most can remember. This I believe is their first attempt at a more adult animated show, so to start with M.O.D.O.K., a villain that most of the casual MCU audience wouldn’t know, is actually a big risk.
The series benefits from having its own universe. In an interview with CBR.com, series co-creator Jordan Blum said “they let me pick the numbering of our universe…. M.O.D.O.K. takes place on Earth-1226”. This way they can play around with all the characters and not affect the main MCU canon.
The animation style is stop-motion, similar to Robot Chicken. I have personally dealt with this animation technique, and so when creators do it, I understand the time and patience it takes to do things right. So when this started, and it was seamless, I was impressed with the style, as it’s difficult to do things frame by frame and not have it look clunky. So overall, the animation I thought was superb.
However, when it comes to the writing, I have a few issues and things I would question. Something I noticed was that M.O.D.O.K. had 9 writers for only only has 10 episodes. For anyone who follows my reviews, I have issues with creative teams being changed constantly. With so many writers, I would have thought consistency would have taken a hit, as each writer would focus on something different. But I was actually impressed with how well it worked out. Each episode had its own themes to deal with, but there was always the overarching arc. It was well balanced and carried itself consistently through the season. There were definitely adult themes and jokes, and being a comedy show I wouldn’t expect all the jokes to land. Some did and some didn’t, but overall it was funny enough to keep me entertained.
Something else I appreciated was the use of language. Other shows like Harley Quinn want to lean so much on the R-rating that they overuse the curse words. With M.O.D.O.K. however, it was infrequent and felt more realistic, despite being an animated show about superheroes and villains.
While doing some research into it, I found that it was released all at once on Hulu, but then had a scheduled weekly release on Disney Plus. This was interesting, as those of us in the UK don’t have Hulu, so it was only available on Disney Plus for us as part of their Star range.
Overall, the series was fun and kept me interested for all 10 episodes. Not a fantastic show, but still enjoyable, and gives a strong foundation for any future R-rated animated series that Marvel may want to do. Adult themes of marriage and divorce were handled well, based in the hero world. For an unknown character to the masses, M.O.D.O.K. was definitely a great start.
M.O.D.O.K. Season 1 released on Disney Plus and Hulu May 21, 2021.
Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man. This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.