Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.

Marvel MODOK





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

Being a supervillain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And trust us: when it comes to cracking, a supervillain who looks a little like Humpty Dumpty in a levitating chair would know.

Not that M.O.D.O.K. would take kindly to the comparison. Indeed, if the massive-headed, small-limbed evildoer was still fully in control of his nefarious organization A.I.M. (he really likes acronyms), I’m sure I would have been vaporized by now.

But according to Hulu, M.O.D.O.K. has bigger P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.

One Does Not Simply Watch Hulu’s M.O.D.O.K …

M.O.D.O.K. (whose name stands for “Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing,” and who once went by the far more pedestrian name of George Tarleton before his radical, ahem, transformation) is still nominally involved with the criminal outfit A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics). But the organization has taken a shift since it was acquired by the tech giant GRUMBL (acronym unknown). Oh, A.I.M. still might be evil, but not in a “torture and eviscerate all the Avengers” sort of evil. And for M.O.D.O.K., what’s the point of running a high-tech company if it isn’t all about killing Iron Man?

Plus, it’s the principle of the thing. M.O.D.O.K. and A.I.M. have been snyonymous since the days when Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet was still being forged in the fires of Nidavellir. He can’t just turn control over to the smarmy, smooth-talking Austin Van Der Sleet without at least trying to vaporize him, right?

But M.O.D.O.K.’s home life is no great shakes, either. His wife, Jodie, is tired of being thought of as just Ms. M.O.D.O.K. She’s written a book, by gum. She’s a social media influencer. Why, she’s just a little sick and tired of M.O.D.O.K. calling all the shots, taking control of her body for his own selfish purposes and manipulating the waves of space and time. In fact, she wants some space and time herself—to figure out whether she even wants to be with M.O.D.O.K. anymore.

They have the kids to consider, though. Melissa, their bisexual 17-year-old daughter, looks just like her pops and is still the most popular girl in school, perhaps because her friends know a natural queen bee when they see one. (She has her heart set on a career of supervillainy, naturally.) And Louis just wants his Bar Mitzvah to be the toast of the town.

Yes, M.O.D.O.K. still has his heart set on complete world domination. But first, he’ll have to make peace with members of his own household.

Far From Marvel-ous

Here’s the thing about comic book universes: The deeper you go, the weirder things get. Granted, it’s not like superhero teams made of extraterrestrial Norse deities, 90-year-old super soldiers and angry green giants qualify as pedestrian, exactly; but at least you can make sense of their stories. But once you have to start tracking all the multiverses and illegitimate clones, you’re going to need some sort of flowchart to keep it all straight.

M.O.D.O.K. has seemingly dozens of alternate versions of himself, including at least four which incorporate aspects of Elvis Presley. (According to Wikipedia, these alt-M.O.D.O.K.s were defeated by cheeseburgers.)

So maybe for M.O.D.O.K. to star in his own Claymation sitcom on Hulu (where he’s voiced by Patton Oswalt) is positively … normal?

We’re talking relatively normal, of course, because this comedy isn’t normal at all. Nor is it nice, clean fun for the whole family. M.O.D.O.K. is distinctly M.E.S.S.Y.

Despite coming out of the Marvel universe (which is owned by Disney), M.O.D.O.K. bypassed the family friendly confines of Disney+ for a reason. Rated TV-MA, this show is loaded with cartoonishly over-the-top dismemberments, evaporations and acts of bloody carnage.

Blood—which looks a little bit like melted pudding—spouts and splatters and pours and congeals. Gruesome Claymation monstrosities can stalk the screen. Sexual references proliferate like evil plots. (The show features a few same-sex-attracted characters, too.) Bad words (including the s-word) flutter through the speakers like ill-mannered butterflies.

M.O.D.O.K. (and his various iterations) has gone by many names in the Marvel universe. But with this outing, Plugged In would like to add another: M.O.B.I. That is, “Mental Organism Best Ignored.”

Episode Reviews

May 21, 2021: “If This Be … M.O.D.O.K.”

With A.I.M. beset by financial problems, M.O.D.O.K. sells the evil organization to GRUMBL, which promises the supervillain that he’ll retain creative control. “Kill all the Iron Mans you want, as long as you deliver a hot new table by Christmas,” says smarmy GRUMBL exec Austin. Meanwhile, M.O.D.O.K.’s wife, Jodie, is trying to cut her own deal with GRUMBL and become a bona fide social media influencer, and his son contemplates his upcoming Bar Mitzvah.

Monica, a top scientist at A.I.M., creates a monstrosity of a dog that (M.O.D.O.K. tells us) urinates out of its mouth and scratches “kill me” in the linoleum floor. He later grows much bigger and rips the head of an A.I.M. employee before his own head explodes. (Plenty of animated blood accompanies both, naturally.) Other employees die, sometimes by messy vaporization, and M.O.D.O.K. zaps the arm off someone. (“I’m sorry,” the now-one-armed-man says sheepishly. “I thought this coffee was for everyone.”) Melissa, M.O.D.O.K.’s daughter, wheels out a gore-stained skeleton that she reports was her boyfriend. A therapy rabbit is messily destroyed, and a bird’s remains are splattered across a room after trying to fly through a forcefield. We hear references to suicide. Someone falls to his death. A hand is stabbed.

GRUMBL alters a nude mural of M.O.D.O.K. after some employees complain. M.O.D.O.K. tells Jodie that he plans to sleep with Iron Man’s (recently pilfered) boot in their “marital bed.” When Jodie announces she wants a divorce, M.O.D.O.K. promises to make some changes: “I’ll call out your name during sex instead of mine!” he says. He compares his brain to a horse’s anatomy and makes a reference to a condom. We hear other references to sex and sexual stimulation.

M.O.D.O.K.’s son calls himself a “Jewish king,” in reference to his upcoming Bar Mitzvah (where he plans to release doves during his Torah reading). When M.O.D.O.K. talks about taking over someone’s body, an A.I.M. employee says, “We can heist the mind, but we must leave the soul. That belongs to God.” (“All right, Gary,” M.O.D.O.K. says dismissively.) There’s a reference to vaping, and we hear three s-words. Other profanities include “a–,” “crap,” “d–n,” “h—” and “p-ss.” God’s name is misused three times, and Jesus’ name is abused twice.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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