(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.
Where You Can Stream It: Hulu
The Pitch: In Marvel’s M.O.D.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Even though the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are full of quips and funny banter, they’re only allowed to go so far with the comedy before it would overpower the comic book action and high stakes of it all. Then you have something like Deadpool, which mixes sharp and silly R-rated comedy and violence for a fun blockbuster package. But what happens when you combine that with the stop-motion animation style of Robot Chicken and bring in a Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing with a massive head, a taste for world domination, and a whiny inferiority complex? You get the off-the-wall, raunchy, violent, and wholly entertaining M.O.D.O.K.
Patton Oswalt plays the title character, a Marvel super-villain with a massive head, even larger intelligence, and a tiny little body that requires him to move around in a hoverchair that doubles as a headpiece. He does battle with the likes of Iron Man (voiced by a cocky Jon Hamm) while running the evil organization Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) and all their yellow hazmat suit-wearing, totally disposable employees. When a tech company douchebro named Austin Van Der Sleet (Beck Bennett) comes in to buy A.I.M., M.O.D.O.K. is sent into a tailspin that also ends his marriage. Now, he’ll do whatever it takes to get his wife and job back.
M.O.D.O.K. plays out a lot like Marvel’s version of Rick and Morty. Honestly, this series could easily have been made with original characters and settings instead of using Marvel Comics intellectual property, and it would be just as funny. But the presence of Marvel characters does offer some bonus cheeky humor and inside jokes for comic book fans, and it certainly broadens the appeal. It allows for some pretty deep cuts into Marvel Comics that otherwise would probably never make it into a movie or TV show. Even so, this is about as far from a traditional Marvel production as you can get, and the series gets even weirder and wackier than the Deadpool franchise, largely thanks to storylines involving M.O.D.O.K.’s strange children voiced by Ben Schwartz and Melissa Fumero.
But what makes M.O.D.O.K. work so well is Patton Oswalt. Not only is his voice perfect for bringing the title character to life, but his comedic sensibilities permeate every aspect of the series. The show feels like it was tailor-made for the stand-up comedian, who also serves as an executive producer on the series. From the frivolous pop culture references to the villainous oddball nature of M.O.D.O.K. himself, this character is purely Oswalt, and I can’t imagine a more perfect role for him to play. If you like listening to Patton Oswalt on the stage, you’ll get a kick out of M.O.D.O.K., and you might even be mesmerized by the accuracy of the character’s stop-motion mouth moving seamlessly with the comedian’s fast-talking dialogue.
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