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Patton Oswalt: Marvel villain 'M.O.D.O.K.' is 'unintentionally funny'

Patton Oswalt co-created Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. and voices M.O.D.O.K. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Patton Oswalt co-created "Marvel's M.O.D.O.K." and voices M.O.D.O.K. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, May 21 (UPI) -- The latest Marvel series is a showcase for M.O.D.O.K., one of comic books' more obscure villains. Patton Oswalt, who co-created the animated Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. for Hulu with Jordan Blum, voices the title character.

"He's so over-the-top rageful that a lot of [the comics] are very unintentionally funny," Oswalt said in a recent Television Critics Association Zoom intervew. "He is truly his own worst enemy."

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Thanks to his work with Advanced Idea Mechanics, M.O.D.O.K. is a floating head in a robotic hover chair. His initials stand for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

The 52-year-old Oswalt said M.O.D.O.K.'s oversize head lends itself to comic exaggeration. Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. uses stop-motion animation to manipulate physical figures.

"Its huge head features really, really big emotion," Oswalt said

M.O.D.O.K never had his own comic book series, but appeared as the villain in Captain America, Incredible Hulk and other Marvel comics. Oswalt said making M.O.D.O.K. the star of his own show was akin to Tom Stoppard's Hamlet spinoff.

"In the comics, he pops in, does an evil plan, gets foiled, he's gone," Oswalt said. "Let's look at it from his point of view. If we want to use the Shakespeare analogy, it's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [Are Dead]."

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When the Hulu series begins, M.O.D.O.K. has bankrupted criminal organization AIM by overspending on devices and weaponry for his failed plots. In the first episode, Iron Man (voice of Jon Hamm) foils M.O.D.O.K.'s latest plan to destroy the New York Stock Exchange.

Oswalt said the show does not specifically satirize other superhero movies and TV shows any more than Marvel already infuses its movies with comedy. Oswalt said M.O.D.O.K. is funny just by committing to his evil plans.

"The more serious M.O.D.O.K. takes things, the more absurd they get," Oswalt said. "We didn't have to nudge you in the ribs."

M.O.D.O.K.'s plans often lead to exaggerated cartoon violence. He shoots a henchman's arm clean off and accidentally dissolves his daughter's boyfriend in acid.

"As far as the blood and gore, we decided to take it to Monty Python level," Oswalt said. "So it doesn't feel offensive or disturbing."

Oswalt has lent his voice to animated characters like Remy the rat in Ratatouille, the imaginary friend on Happy! and Max the dog in Secret Life of Pets 2. He also narrates The Goldbergs.

M.O.D.O.K.'s voice, Oswalt said, is a variation of his own.

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"It's me when I'm at my most whiniest and angriest and petty," Oswalt said. "All I had to do was sort of crank it up."

Oswalt performs stand-up comedy, and has acted on shows such as The King of Queens and A.P. Bio, and in movies such as Young Adult and The Circle. Oswalt said he dreamed of voicing animated characters before he became an actor.

"I was always a huge animation fan," Oswalt said. "I would go to Spike and Mike's animation festival all the time and watch all the new, edgy cartoons."

In developing M.O.D.O.K. with Marvel, Oswalt said the studio arm of the comic book giant welcomed his take on a relatively obscure villain.

"I think that they're really delighted with their back catalog," Oswalt said of Marvel. "They love how weird and out there a lot of their characters get."

All Season 1 episodes of Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. premiere Friday on Hulu.

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