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Critics praise the 'weird' and 'moving' world of Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. series ahead of Hulu debut

By Benjamin Bullard
Marvel's M.O.D.O.K.

He may be drowning in A.I.M. failure, but early reviews for Marvel’s new comedic foray into adult animated comedy might just be good enough to go straight to M.O.D.O.K.’s huge head. As the CG-animated series gets set to take hover-powered flight at Hulu this week, reviewers seem to be falling out of their floating chairs with laughter — and praise.

Patton Oswalt voices the super-villainous role as Marvel’s Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, who’s coping with a hard fall from bad-guy grace as the hilariously hapless top dog at Advanced Idea Mechanics. Hulu’s earlier teases have hinted that the series will put a new, grown-up spin on the kind of fare we’ve come to expect from Marvel’s screen heroes and villains, and so far, it all appears to have struck a chord with critics.

Reviewers are vibing at the way M.O.D.O.K. takes a smart and funny deep dive into the Marvel comic book mythos; one that uses Oswalt’s voice chops to great effect in mining tons of mature fun from M.O.D.O.K.’s frustrated megalomaniacal impulses. They also dig the series’ faithfulness to the source material, which reportedly gives Marvel die-hards plenty of Easter egg fun to munch on…without succumbing to geeked-out in-jokes that might fall flat with casual MCU fans.

He may be bent on world domination, and he definitely never flinches at the chance to live up to his sinister name. But he’s still got a family who loves him and a middle-class life to maintain. How does M.O.D.O.K. get away with such a sad brand of shoegazing villainy while keeping the critics in stitches? Here’s a sampling of what the early reviews are saying:

Check out the review highlights below:

"The show is just a really solid piece of comedy, from the writing, to the animation of the toy-like characters, to the (naturally) Easter egg-filled background gags, and it shows how malleable the superhero genre is once you accept the fact that people don’t need to be carefully guided through a comic book universe anymore. The Marvel movies are often at their best when they twist a superhero story into the shape of a different genre, and it’s about time that TV similarly embraced the cool things that can be done with comic books if you just shut up and let them be as weird as M.O.D.O.K. is." — Sam Barsanti, AV Club

"With the stop-motion stylings of Robot Chicken, Marvel’s farcical M.O.D.O.K. series is a refreshing, mile-a-minute comic self-parody. Every line is a laugh, and Patton Oswalt is pitch-perfect as the iconic supervillain, whose Frankenstein origins are traded in for a streamlined saga of ego and ambition, blended with both a modern workplace comedy and a surprisingly moving family sitcom." —  Siddhant Adlakha, IGN

"You get it all with M.O.D.O.K., a family piece, Marvel comics, tons of laughs, and surprisingly good action when it happens. There isn’t a bad episode among the bunch, [and] you’d be remiss as a Marvel fan, or just a fan of media in general to miss out on this one…M.O.D.O.K. is the type of show that surprises you. It's surprisingly deep for such a silly comedy, it tells a great family story among its 10 episodes and you'll be laughing all the way through." — Hunter Bolding, That Hashtag Show

"While some stories in the Marvel-verse have managed to take M.O.D.O.K. seriously (Marvel’s Avengers videogame from 2020 is an excellent example), treating the already ridiculous design with humor works incredibly well, in part due to the excellent performance of Patton Oswalt, who is also one of the writers and showrunners…But the shock value and gross-out humor work inside the constraints of the show, and viewers who love this type of outrageous mischief will enjoy watching all of M.O.D.O.K.’s hijinks without ever being quite certain whether to root for him—or hope that someone eventually serves his just desserts." — Alana Joli Abbott, Den of Geek

"If you want to see an Avenger die in the most brutal of ways, drop an f-bomb while fighting aliens, or give Thanos the middle finger, Marvel's MODOK is exactly the place where that will happen…It's a well-rounded offering from the House of Ideas that's one of the company's most exciting and original properties yet. It ends as fast as it starts, and that will definitely leave you wanting more. It's hilarious, surprisingly heartfelt, and entirely insane, wrapped up into one oversized noggin, and Marvel has a hit on its hands." — Adam Barnhardt,

Created by Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt and starring Oswalt as the big baddie himself, M.O.D.O.K. also features a voice cast that includes Aimee Garcia, Ben Schwartz, Melissa Fumero, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Beck Bennett, Jon Daly, and Sam Richardson. Stop-motion CG animation comes from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the same company at the visual reins of Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken.

Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. debuts at Hulu on Friday, May 21, with all 10 episodes arriving in one big, binge-worthy bite.