‘Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.’ comic look at super-sized villain

Rick's Reviews

Patton Oswalt provides the voice for M.O.D.O.K. in the new Hulu animated comedy. (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

(KGET) — Patton Oswalt has gotten a big head, and that’s a good thing, as it is the central character in the new Hulu animated series “Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” All 10 episodes of the adult comedy are available on the streaming service Friday.

If you aren’t a big fan of Marvel Comics, what you need to know is that M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) has been a major villain in that universe for decades. He’s a megalomaniacal supervillain who has dreamed of one day conquering the world despite being a massive head with tiny arms and legs.

Think of him as being Dr. Evil from the “Austin Powers” movies, except he’s a massive head.

M.O.D.O.K. has not had a lot of success and has run his evil organization A.I.M. into the ground. He must put his giant brain to the task of workplace problems and a family life that is falling apart.

The biggest difference between the M.O.D.O.K. in the comic books and this one is that the series pokes fun at the character. That’s a big difference from the way Marvel characters – even the bad guys – have been treated in TV and film. The series also features more violent moments than the normal offering from the Marvel Universe.

Oswalt, who provides the voice for M.O.D.O.K. and is an executive producer on the show explains that the irreverent look at the character reflects his evil past.

“We went back and looked at the original ‘M.O.D.O.K.’ comics He wasn’t meant to be comedic, but he’s so over-the-top rageful that a lot of them are very unintentionally funny, I think,” Oswalt says. “He is truly his own worst enemy.

“As far as the blood and gore, we decided to take it to just ‘Monty Python’ level.  So it doesn’t feel offensive or disturbing.  It’s hilarious.  We just said, ‘Let’s go way over the top with it.’”

The familiarity Oswalt has for the character comes from years of reading Marvel Comics. He remembers how M.O.D.O.K. would pop up to fight an assortment of heroes. It was hard to miss him as comic book legend Jack Kirby had drawn the character in such a head-popping way.

Oswalt admits in his younger days he saw himself more as Spider-Man or one of the X-Men. The 52-year old Oswalt jokes that at his age, he’s glad to be M.O.D.O.K. because he gets to sit down a lot. The decision to make the new Hulu show a comedy came out of wanting to poke fun at many of the familiar aspects of Marvel characters.

“What ended up being interesting was we didn’t really need to satirize a lot of the tropes of Marvel because, even in the Marvel movies, they do winks and nods at some of the ridiculousness of superhero tropes,” Oswalt says. “So what ended up happening was the more serious M.O.D.O.K. takes things, the more absurd they get.

“The fact that he’s taking it so seriously is how we are, taking these little, you know, jibs and jabs at a lot of these kinds of old tropes, and that ended up being really, really funny.  We didn’t have to nudge you in the ribs. The more committed M.O.D.O.K. is to his mission, the funnier it gets.” 

Providing the voice for the giant head is just part of the busy acting life for Oswalt. Along with the animated comedy, he provides the narration for the ABC comedy “The Goldbergs” and plays Principal Ralph Durbin on the Peacock series “A.P. Bio.”

Although best known for portraying Spence Olchin on “The King of Queens,” his acting credits also include “Parks and Recreation,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He’s also worked as a voice actor before: voicing the cooking mouse Remy in the animated “Ratatouille” from Pixar.

It was easy for Oswalt to find the voice for M.O.D.O.K. in the Hule series.

“I hate to say this because he’s such a twisted, damaged character, but M.O.D.O.K.’s voice is just an amplified, if anything, more treble-y version of my own voice.  It’s me when I’m at my most whiniest and angriest and petty,” Oswalt says. “So that’s all I had to do, was sort of crank it up that way.  He was very, very fun to vocalize.

“I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do in terms of the character and the world. But Jordan and our writing staff, the way they opened up what it could be, especially in terms of what would normally be boring stuff – the family, being a father – ends up being the most exciting, kind of biggest stakes in the show. I did not see that coming.”

The series also features the voices of Melissa Fumero, Aimee Garcia, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ben Schwartz, Beck Bennett, Jon Daly and Sam Richardson.

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