For comic-book fans who once groused about not having the medium taken seriously on screen, the appetite for all things Marvel is almost too much of a good thing.
M.O.D.O.K. is introduced battling Iron Man, taking megalomaniacal pride in what amounts to the smallest of victories. But the celebration is short lived, as he assembles with his yellow-costumed minions at AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics, naturally), after realizing that the criminal empire has hit hard financial times.
Among the cheekiest flourishes, a corporate white knight enters the picture in the form of a tech company known as Grumbl. Selling out a controlling interest, however, means M.O.D.O.K. must give up control of his fiendish enterprises, forcing the title villain to fight a pair of battles — one at work, and another in trying to keep his family together.
Grumbl’s oily CEO (“Saturday Night Live’s” Beck Bennett) really just wants the fabulous technology that M.O.D.O.K. can dream up, assuring him that he can “kill all the Iron Mans you want” as long as he provides product for the company’s pipeline. Yet M.O.D.O.K. becomes increasingly frustrated and experiences mounting indignities on both fronts, with a serialized storyline that grows darker — and odder — as the season progresses.
The R-rated nature of the dialogue and situations explains why the show found a home on Hulu, not Disney+, although the image of parents inadvertently letting their kids watch the next “Marvel show” might be as darkly comical as anything within these 10 episodes.
Clearly, the need for content has thrown open the Marvel vault, especially for streaming, where this kind of strange confection only needs to tantalize a small subset of subscribers. Just visually, the animation technique underscores the mandate to think outside the box, which should generally be applauded.
That said, even in the world of supervillains designed for killing, just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should.
“Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” premieres May 21 on Hulu.
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