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M.O.D.O.K.: Patton Oswalt, Marvel & One of the Best Sitcom Dads Ever

Some of the most successful family sitcoms hinges on the personality of their father figure Archie Bunker in All in the Family, Al Bundy in Married with Children, and Homer Simpson in The Simpsons. Patton Oswalt partnered with Seth Green's Stoopid Buddy Stoodios in hopes to infuse the humor of Robot Chicken into the Hulu stop-motion series M.O.D.O.K. Oswalt plays the title character that's the acronym for Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing and his alias George Tarleton, based on the comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Image: Screencap

While every other incarnation of MODOK sees him in the typical supervillain mold, the Hulu series uses that motive a bit of a backdrop as we look at his family and equally dysfunctional company in Advanced Idea Mechanics (aka A.I.M.). His family consists of his wife Jodie (Aimee Garcia), who's bent on being successful with her own business ventures, but often finds herself at odds with him to the point of separation, which he tries to salvage throughout the season. His son Lou (Ben Schwartz) is trying to find his own place in his father's life and the world but struggles awkwardly to find acceptance from both. He does have a promising career as a magician. MODOK's daughter Melissa (Melissa Fumero) shares more of her father's appearance with the prevalent head disproportionately bigger than the rest of the body. She's the most popular girl at her high school while trying to gain her father's approval. The children developed their own acronyms for their names.

Image courtesy of Hulu

Over on the A.I.M. side, you have Monica Rappaccini/Scientist Supreme (Wendi McLendon-Covey), who is MODOK's arch-rival in the company always duking it out with their egos trying to one-up each other with their inventions. Austin Van Der Sleet (Beck Bennett) is MODOK's millennial younger boss when he loses the company. He comes from GRUMBL, the tech firm that took control of A.I.M. Super-Adaptoid (Jon Daly) is MODOK's servant who can change into any shape or form. While sadly, the series only lasted one season, it had tons of potential given the world-building it established. As much as MODOK talks about blasting the Avengers and taking over the world, much of the first season doesn't really deal with his megalomaniac ambitions, rather trying to win his family and company back. Not to say there aren't moments where the more recognizable IPs don't get their share of recognition as we get to see more than our fair share of Marvel characters with just as recognizable voices with Jon Hamm as Iron Man, Nathan Fillion as Wonder Man, Whoopi Goldberg as Poundcakes, and Bill Hader as The Leader.

M.O.D.O.K.: Patton Oswalt, Marvel & One of the Best Sitcom Dads Ever

A series with as huge a sandbox as MODOK has can easily be overwhelmed with over-the-top stories tapping into the wealth of Marvel, but it largely sticks to some key narratives throughout the season. It's a testament to the talent, writing, and scope of the series that could easily just as thrived as Robot Chicken has thrived on Adult Swim. Given Disney+'s greater flexibility of content, MODOK probably would have a better shot on that platform instead of Hulu. I would say the same for the live-action series Runaways which lasted three seasons and the current animated series Hit-Monkey (which hasn't been canceled yet, right?). It doesn't make much sense to splinter Marvel's content given what exists now on Disney+.

Image: Screencap

Oswalt's MODOK works because he can radiate a neurotic performance at any given moment while at the same time, delivering the heart, maturity, and empathy needed for a father figure. Of his co-stars, Fumero's Melissa provides his greatest foil, because of how the two connect so well together like Dr. Evil and Mini-me not to mention she is how I imagined MODOK would be as a teenage girl. While some would prefer to have their supervillains be one-dimensional nihilists, fully fleshing them out like this makes them far more refreshing and it's pretty inevitable when you consider how every single character within the two comic conglomerates is giving more villain origin stories. If you want a series with heart that doesn't take itself too seriously, give M.O.D.O.K. a chance. The only knock against it is that it only lasted one season.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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