‘Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.’: The Story Behind M.O.D.O.K.’s Team of Super Villains
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If there’s one episode of Marvel's M.O.D.O.K., that is more jampacked with Easter eggs, references, in-jokes, and Marvel Comics history than the others, it’s definitely Episode 4 — “If Saturday Be... for the Boys!”
Or, as co-creator and showrunner Jordan Blum puts it to Marvel.com, it’s the episode where “M.O.D.O.K. goes to the Bar with No Name and attempts to make friends in his 40s.”
Landing right in the middle of Season 1, Episode 4 takes us down a different, but familiar, path with the titular M.O.D.O.K. He’s living on his own without his wife and kids, and trying to get into the cool club in town where all the A-list Super Villians hang out — the Soho Lair — is on the top of his to-do list. But upon arriving, he’s turned away since he’s not an A-lister himself. And how to fix that? He’s got to prove that he’s just as bad as the rest and steal Captain America’s shield. Easier said than done.
“I wanted to do an episode where M.O.D.O.K. first suspects that he might truly be D-list, and how that suspicion fuels this mission of vengeance where he ropes in some of the bottom-of-the-barrel Marvel villains to help him in his scheme, which ends up never getting off the ground, but becomes this sad, aimless character study,” star Patton Oswalt explains to Marvel.com. “It’s like if [John] Cassavetes or [Bob] Rafelson wrote a Marvel story. A seemingly ‘wasted evening’ that ends up giving M.O.D.O.K. his first twinges of empathy and humility.”
Looking for somewhere to find some cohorts in this quest, M.O.D.O.K. ends up at the Bar with No Name, a place which Blum describes as filled with, “more blue-collar kind of everyday villains who aren't that interested in taking over the world but are more interested in just kind of knocking over a jewelry store and hoping Spider-Man doesn't show up where they go to drink.”
The Bar With No Name is pulled right from the comics, and so are the villains M.O.D.O.K. finds inside, voiced by an extremely talented group of actors: Poundcakes (Whoopi Goldberg), Armadillo (Dustin Ybarra), Angar the Screamer (Bill Hader), Tenpin (Chris Parnell), and Melter (Eddie Pepitone). Never heard of them? That’s okay — and sort of the point.
“I love the lovable losers, the weird oddities of the Marvel Universe, because that's what M.O.D.O.K. is. He's one of them,” Blum continues. “He's the most famous one. So we wanted to kind of support him with these characters who don't get— they're not going to be the lead villain in the next Marvel movie. They're so far down the line. So to kind of give them their due, I love these characters.”
Blum’s favorite villain in this group is Armadillo, with Oswalt adding that, “Angar the Screamer is one of the funniest characters Marvel ever came up with.”
“We liked the idea that MODOK was putting them together to pull a heist but really they're just cannon fodder for him so he can steal Captain America's shield and give them these personalities,” Blum says. “We wanted to pick some of the best characters to populate this episode with.”
With his team now in place, can they steal the shield? Can they help M.O.D.O.K. achieve his dream of finally joining the ranks of top-tier villains? And how many Marvel Easter eggs are they going to find along the way, hidden in corners and on shelves in the background of the episode? (Answer: A lot.)
All 10 episodes of Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. are now streaming, only on Hulu.
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