Season 1, Episodes 1-10
M.O.D.O.K may be yet another adult-orientated comic book show but it stands out due to a big focus on its unique main character and his family
Hulu’s new Marvel show, M.O.D.O.K. arrives quite late on the scene of adult-orientated comic book shows. Shows ranging from Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys to DC’s Harley Quinn show to another Prime original, Invincible, have made quite a mark in recent years. All have been huge successes on their respective streaming services. Now Hulu is trying their hand at it. Out of all the comic book shows listed above, M.O.D.O.K. is most similar to the Harley Quinn show. Both are humorous, adult takes on a comic book villain. However, the Hulu series is actually held back when it is trying too hard to be like the Harley Quinn show. When M.O.D.O.K. throws multiple pop culture references at viewers in a short span of time, it falls on deaf ears. That was not what made the Harley Quinn show special; what made it special was the focus on its main characters, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and the show presented their Gotham, completely adulterated. M.O.D.O.K. thus succeeds more when it is charting its own course and less when it is trying to be something else. M.O.D.O.K. is not Harley Quinn and the supporting characters for the Hulu series are completely different so the new show shines when it explores its characters on its own terms. The adult nature of M.O.D.O.K. may be a big draw but some of the best moments of the show are when it tones down the humour and treats its characters with care.
Villain stories have become increasingly prevalent over the recent years e.g. Joker and the Harley Quinn show. Every villain story needs an angle - a reason to root for the villain and to a certain extent understand their perspective. The Hulu only occasionally touches on M.O.D.O.K.’s rivalry with the Avengers, specifically Iron-Man, and instead turns its attention to M.O.D.O.K.’s personal relationships. Whilst there are other supporting characters, it is M.O.D.O.K.’s family which is the emotional core of the show. M.O.D.O.K. does not have a perfect relationship with each member of his family to say the least. The show ultimately uses the family members to develop M.O.D.O.K; however, in doing so, the show still treats each family member as a complex character with their own distinct issues instead of merely an extension of M.O.D.O.K. It is not just M.O.D.O.K. who has a clear arc but every main character evolves over the course of the show.
The show is M.O.D.O.K. through and through
M.O.D.O.K.’s biggest strength is that the show completely leans into all the crazy aspects of the character. Just like the Harley Quinn show gave us Harley Quinn’s unique outlook, the Hulu Marvel series captures all the idiosyncrasies of the famous villain. Apart from M.O.D.O.K.’s interactions with his family, the main plot of the show is M.O.D.O.K. trying to run A.I.M just like in the comics. Although the show is not at all about M.O.D.O.K.’s rivalry with the Avengers, Marvel fans will be pleased to know that there are some Easter eggs and even cameos from popular characters. The show is M.O.D.O.K. through and through with its tone and comic accuracy. One undisputed downside of the show is that many of the show’s villains are quite bland and are completely overshadowed by everything else exciting going on in the show.
Overall, M.O.D.O.K. is a fun adult-orientated take on the classic Marvel villain which works best when it focuses on M.O.D.O.K.’s relationship with his family and when it gets inventive with the set up. The show is also very approachable even for those unfamiliar with the character’s history in the comics. Whilst the show may not be on par with other adult orientated comic book shows, Hulu’s new Marvel show is without a doubt worth a watch. Comedic, downright ridiculous at times in a good way, and surprisingly emotional, M.O.D.O.K. is simply a delight to watch.