The first thing you need to know about Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is that M.O.D.O.K. is amazing. Jack Kirby, the greatest superhero artist of all time, loved to create characters with elaborate armor, ornate helmets, and oversized dimensions, and M.O.D.O.K. (originally short for Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing) essentially combined all three, with his massive head encased in a full-body suit that makes him look a bit like a flying egg. It’s a patently ridiculous character design, and yet M.O.D.O.K. was wisely played straight in the comics for his first 40 or so years of existence; the contrast behind his inherent goofiness and the gravitas with which he was presented remains a beautiful example of what made the Silver and Bronze Ages of comic books so special. The frequent foe of Captain America and various Avengers is the leader of one of Marvel’s preeminent crime organizations, Advanced Idea Mechanics (aka AIM), which is like a science-focused offshoot of Hydra that’s outgrown the Nazi roots of that group but still wants to conquer the world. (What self-respecting superpowered terrorist organization doesn’t?) M.O.D.O.K. became a kind of proto-meme within comic circles in the early days of the internet, and has frequently popped up as a comedic figure in Marvel comics over the last 15 years; most recently he was the main villain in Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers videogame from 2020.
The next stage in M.O.D.O.K.’s comedic makeover commences on May 21, when the animated series Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. premieres on Hulu. Created by comedian Patton Oswalt and American Dad producer Jordan Blum, M.O.D.O.K. stars Oswalt as the mental organism himself, with stop-motion animation from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the studio behind Robot Chicken. The first full trailer’s out today, and it promises both superhero madness (including cameos from Iron Man and Wonder Man, aka the comic book character whose memories and brainwaves were used to give Vision his personality) and a bitter custody battle between M.O.D.O.K. and the mother of his children as they contemplate divorce. It also features Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” and not just as an ironic or nostalgic needle drop—the second half of the trailer is built around that song, and apparently it plays a crucial role in the series itself.
Patton Oswalt as a giant floating head going through a midlife crisis while trying to take over the world with his science crime minions? That has a lot of promise. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that Bill Hader plays another brilliantly ridiculous Bronze Age villain, Angar the Screamer, an evil hippie (created by genius Steve Gerber) whose power is making people hallucinate by yelling very loudly at them. I would like to see that.
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. premieres on Hulu on May 21, with its full 10 episode first season landing that day. Until then, here’s that trailer.