Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is basically Marvel’s attempt at Robot Chicken. The show takes that same stop-motion style, lots of Marvel references and blends it in with a dollop of generic and tired sitcom tropes. The result is something that’s going to be an acquired taste – especially with the style of humour this show opts for.
At the center of this is M.O.D.O.K., the maniacal supervillain that’s had quite the illustrious history across Marvel Comics. From fighting Captain America and Ms Marvel through to an appearance in X-Men, this strangely iconic villain dates back years. Perhaps the only thing surprising is how long it’s taken Marvel to throw this maniac into the MCU.
Instead of that though, M.O.D.O.K. finds himself front and center of a sitcom, complete with moralistic “lessons” thrown in to pad the run-time. You see, M.O.D.O.K. has a family now and his backstory has been adjusted accordingly to accommodate this.
Basically, our villain was born with a giant head and it’s just part of his genetic make-up rather than a scientific experiment gone wrong. This allows for a more simple story to play out, with M.O.D.O.K. joined by wife Jodie and two kids. Yep, it’s the generic family set-up again.
The human child Lou loves M.O.D.O.K. while teenager daughter Melissa (who sports the same big head, hoverboard and small limbs) is completely indifferent to him. It’s such a cliched set-up, one that we’ve seen in umpteen number of other shows and the situational comedy plays out in exactly the way you’d expect.
Balanced alongside that though is the much more interesting plot involving M.O.D.O.K.’s desire to rule the world. Specifically the “work” part of this sitcom.
M.O.D.O.K works for A.I.M., which finds itself in the midst of a seismic shift in management when our megalomaniac sells up to tech company GRUMBL. This is fronted by the arrogant Austin Van Der Sleet who plays up the unlikable businessman perfectly across the season.
As M.O.D.O.K works to regain control of his business, family struggles see Jodie eventually file for a divorce. And this inevitably puts strain on the kids.
The story does go deeper than that though, with each episode teasing a much larger, longer-form plot that’s spread out across the 10 episodes. It’s just a pity that the finale ends on a cliffhanger. Despite that though, most of the series flits back and forth between these two states, with simple one-liners and jokes thrown in that are a mixed bag to say the least.
Some of the humour works perfectly, and the constant pop culture gags and references to Marvel work well within the context of this show. At the same time, M.O.D.O.K feels tired and strangely unoriginal despite the wacky set-up. It’s here where the shortfalls with the humour are felt, and it oftentimes feels like the show tries that much harder to thrown in pop culture references when a joke doesn’t land.
Of course, comedy is subjective. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all. All you need to do is look at something like The Big Bang Theory to find a vehemently different reaction between love and hate. M.O.D.O.K. then is unlikely to illicit such a strong reaction but will undoubtedly divide audiences. This sitcom is an amusing stop-gap distraction that fails to bring anything new to the increasingly bloated Marvel table.