M.O.D.O.K. is not the most charming villain Marvel has ever come up with. He is literally a giant, floating head with puny limbs whose only, clichéd goal is to conquer the world and reshape it as he pleases. Nevertheless, Hulu delivered a TV show that clearly stands out among other MCU products. It’s different, for a number of reasons: the first Marvel series in stop-motion, abundant violence, and desecrating dark humor. Lastly, it combines an ironic take on a villain with dysfunctional family issues.

What does M.O.D.O.K. stand for?

M.O.D.O.K.‘s dream of creating its own utopia is hindered by a very vulgar reason: money. He may be a brilliant scientist, but he’s also a poor CEO as he squanders the company funds risking bankruptcy. The Google-like company Grumbl wants to buy into his business. When he accepts, he finds himself entangled in the new policies, preventing him from carelessly exploiting and mistreating his employees and from quietly planning his evil schemes.

But that’s only half of the problems on M.O.D.O.K.’s plate. His wife Jodie has become a successful vlogger and she wants a divorce, as she has grown unsatisfied with their marriage. Moreover, M.O.D.O.K.’s children have a troubled relationship with him, since he is quite an absent father, being so focused on his wicked aims. M.O.D.O.K. stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, but also stands for a man who needs to fix up his life from head to toe.

M.O.D.O.K.: a different take on a villain from Marvel Comics

M.O.D.O.K. plays a game that has been quite popular over the last decades: humanizing the bad guys. From TheSopranos to Breaking Bad (and even movies like Toy Story 4), a lot of stories show that every villain has his own reasons and fears. This is what makes them so relatable. M.O.D.O.K. takes place in the roster of solid villains Marvel delivered in the past, like Ultron, Loki, or Thanos.

However, it gives something more. Untied from the MCU continuity, M.O.D.O.K. combines the sitcom format with the features of a superhero’s story. And it does it with a strong, unprecedented taste for dark humor. The series entails also body-horror nuances close to John Carpenter’s style, always placed in hilarious situations. The stop-motion shootings by Stoopid Buddy Studios (Robot Chicken) enhance this awkward contrast, giving plasticity to gore and violence. All these features connect with M.O.D.O.K.’s need to keep it all together. From villainous plans to the attempts of getting his wife back and being a good father for his children, he will have a hard time having it all.

The ironic charm of a loser

The ironic tone permeates the series, also addressing different issues of our digital culture. Above all, Austin, the head of Grumbl, is a clear parody of the start-up business model. He appears attentive to his employees, but he shows a passive-aggressive attitude when M.O.D.O.K. doesn’t comply with his guidelines.

Equally ironic is the way in which M.O.D.O.K., a despicable and often unsympathetic guy, manages to get to the audience thanks to his loser charm. The viewer wants to see him succeed, no matter how mean he can be.

M.O.D.O.K. was created in 1967 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His publication history as a Marvel character continues to the present day. The show has been released on the Disney+ STAR section in Europe.