Throughout his career, Jordan Blum has been a part of a handful of American comedy staples. The writer spent some time staffed on the writing team for Community, and he wrote for (and produced) nearly 100 episodes of American Dad! Now, the writer has his own show in the form of Marvel's MODOK, a stop-motion animated series coming to Hulu next week.
Featuring Patton Oswalt as the titular baddie, MODOK follows the mundane life of one of Marvel's most bizarre villains. By day, MODOK tries to keep his evil criminal organization afloat, only to go home and attempt to salvage his deteriorating marriage. With the premiere of the show right around the corner, we caught up with Blum to touch on the show, its future at Hulu, and the dozens of surprise cameos made throughout the show.
In the series, Oswalt is joined by Aimee Garcia, Melissa Fumero, and Ben Schwartz, with each playing an original character of the MODOK family. Then there are beloved Marvel characters like Iron Man (Jon Hamm), The Leader and Angar the Screamer (Bill Hader), Poundcakes (Whoopi Goldberg), and Super Adaptoid (Jon Daly) join the fray — and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Keep scrolling to see read our full chat with Blum below, or watch through the video above!
ComicBook.com: Let's talk MODOK. Man I've, watched it twice.
Jordan Blum: Oh my God, that's awesome! I hope not because of work, but of your own choosing.
Totally of my own choosing. I think it's Episode 4 where they're getting the band back together or whatever you want to call it. I instantly rewatched it 'cause I couldn't see half of it because there were tears in my eyes from laughing.
That's awesome. That's so good to hear.
Let's start at the beginning, of course. Why MODOK? Is it something Marvel TV was already planning on doing? Or you had this idea and you said, "Hey listen to this."
I had taken a meeting with Marvel and they had characters they were interested in pursuing and it's like, "What about M.O.D.O.K.?" And it's just a character I've loved since the comics, like the Mark Grunewald's Captain America stuff and the Iron Man TV show in the '90s, like it's that Jack Kirby design. It's so unique, it's so amazing, it's unforgettable and I love that he's this character that is, you know, this egomaniac who's obsessed with taking over the world but he's this floating head with baby arms and legs, who wants to mind blast everyone.
When I was thinking about the show and then I talked to Patton, we immediately started brainstorming and figuring out like, "Where does this guy go you know at night when he leaves that Captain America panel?" Or you know, "What is it like to run A.I.M? What does that take you know, to run your own evil organization?"
Out of that, you really get a sense of this office comedy or this family comedy that you know, he may be this very arch-villain, but he still has to deal with all the stuff that we do, like the bureaucracy of running an organization or you know, not being able to relate to his son and finding the humanity in this, this Stan Lee, Jack Kirby monster was such a fun challenge.
He's a flawed character like all the Marvel characters are and I think that's what Marvel does so well is, you know this giant universe that's exciting and big and larger than life but the characters are so human, so relatable. I think M.O.D.O.K. is one of them and to kind of build a show around that was thrilling.prevnext
You know, one can look at, say Twitter as an example and see that you're clearly first a comic book fan, you know? So I mean M.O.D.O.K. is there, but there's also...I'm trying to remember which characters have been revealed...Poundcakes was announced. I think Angar the Screamer was announced, Wonder Man was announced. Did they just let you put whoever the hell you wanted in into it?
Pretty much. I was blown away because you know, I'm a huge comic book guy. You know, these are characters I absolutely love. I'm there [at the comic book store] every Wednesday, so is Patton. We go to the same comic store. He has very good recommendations, if you're ever looking for something new, hit up Patton. Marvel was so cool about like, "Yeah you want Iron Man? Yeah, take Iron Man," and I was like, "Oh my God I can't believe Iron Man!"
Like the only characters, they said no to were like, Stilt-Man and Paste-Pot Pete, we tried to have in that episode. Stilt-Man was gonna be the bartender so you could get the top shelf liquor. But there were like rights issues or something that were stopping us. But, we lucked out because in the middle of making the show, the Fox rights reverted, so I was able to put all my favorite X-Men characters into this 'cause I'm a huge X-Men guy, so that was insane to me.
You know, we had to check ourselves a little bit, that we didn't just put everything in and then nothing happened in the show beause we were just like, "Oh here's a new character, here's a new character!" They had to kind of be organic to the story and that was, you know, the most important thing. That's why there are some weird ones in there like the because we were, we needed something for that episode and we were looking through the Marvel handbooks which we had in the writer's room and we stumbled upon them and we're like, "Oh these guys are amazing, this is gold! I can't believe no one's used these guys."
So it was kind of a mixture of bringing in things, characters I've always wanted to use. I love Wonder Man. Wonder Man was in the initial pitch, so I love the A-listers and I love the weird D-listers and I think that Episode Four is an absolute love letter to that world, with the Bar with No Name and all those guys.
I will admit, I thought I was suffering from a fever dream or something because Master Pandemonium pops up out of nowhere.
Whoopi Goldberg is voicing Poundcakes. How did you determine who's voicing who? Did you have a dart board in the writer's room?
I mean some were really deliberate, right? Because like Wonder Man you know, James Gunn had cast him in Guardians of the Galaxy to play Simon Williams. He's in there like doing a little cameo or cut scene, so that, we just ripped him off. I asked him for his blessing on Twitter and he gave it. Nathan was perfect, like no one else should play Wonder Man but Nathan Fillion.
Some of the small characters you know, you know Patton suggested Bill Hader for Angar, and it like made perfect sense right? Or you know, he was also perfect for the Leader 'cause he does that like amazing Vincent Price kind of voice, you know? And that, what the Leader's always sounded like to me.
With Poundcakes you know, we knew we were writing her as this kind of like fun, crazy character and we were such big fans of Whoopi Goldberg and one of the writers threw it out as an idea. We were like, "No way she'll say yes," and she was so excited to do it because no one has asked her to do these kinds of insane characters or roles anymore. You think of like Oscar-winning Whoopi Goldberg you know, and she was so fun and just what came to play and was so excited to do it.prevnext
We have M.O.D.O.K. the series, but then there's Head Games, the comic series. Did you develop these at the same time as you and Patton are writing the show or how did that shake out?
We had finished writing the season and we were in production and Marvel came to us and said, "Hey would you guys be interested in doing a comic series?" And we said, "Yes, but we don't want to adapt our show. We wanna write the comics, M.O.D.O.K." With all the history and, that world which is very different you know, in that he doesn't have a family and all the stuff that would kind of, is less comedic in the comics.
We thought about how the similarities and differences between the characters and the idea of like that became the mystery of the comic, is how to reconcile these two takes. M.O.D.O.K. has memories of his family that don't make sense to him, they don't compute. It's like someone's tampered with him, so it leads them on this mystery of "Why do I remember these things and they're haunting me? And what is this? Get this out of my head!" And, and it allowed us to kind of bridge the two worlds in a really fun way.
I don't wanna spoil the comic, but I think we found a way to really incorporate elements of the show into the 616 universe without it feeling shoehorned or, you know with it making sense with the "M.O.D.O.K." we've read our whole lives. And it was really fun to play on that with like a meta-narrative of, you know, one influencing the other. And how can there be these different takes? 'Because I think he's a flexible character like Batman how you can have Adam West and you can have Frank Miller and those, they're both valid versions of the character.
I think it's pretty self-explanatory but we might as well get it on record. It's safe to say "M.O.D.O.K." is not in the MCU, right?
Yeah, I mean they're puppets. How many puppets are running around the MCU? Yeah, we're our own universe. I think like, you know, Harley Quinn is a good example of like, that's not the movies, but it's really cool actually. Marvel has a database of all the universes in the Multiverse and there's a guy who runs it, and they let me pick the numbering of our universe. So my son's birthday, 12/26, is our universe. We're in the Marvel Multiverse, which is awesome. It's so crazy that we have our own you know, 616 like numbering.prevnext
The Offenders & Hit-Monkey
At one point you know, there was going to be The Offenders, and I think Hit-Monkey is still in the works. Did those changing plans affect MODOK at all? Did you have to cut out cameos or anything like that?
No, everyone kinda set out to tell their story. I was consulting on the other shows 'cause I was possibly gonna do The Offenders if it ever came to be and it was really cool. Everyone got to do their own thing. We didn't change a single thing in our show. You know, I'm excited people will be able to see Hit-Monkey, because I've seen a little of it and it looks amazing.
But no, you know I think you wanna give showrunners a little bit of freedom to kind of establish their characters and the voice of the shows and not worry too much about how it all fits together. That was gonna be my burden. And you know, it's a bummer. I don't get to do it but we're excited to get these shows out.
There were all sorts of moving parts, of course, during this. Were you able to get most of the show done before everything kind of flipped under Marvel Studios? Was there any consultation on their part with the show at all?
They really dug it and were like, you know, they were really happy with the creative and I think they saw that we were very respectful of, you know everything that'd come before it. And, they really just let us do our own thing, you know. I don't think we ever really got any notes or anything from them. They were just kinda like, "This is working, keep going."prevnext
I don't wanna give too much away, but there's totally the possibility for more storytelling in this world with the ending and whatnot. Are you feeling pretty comfortable with a second season? What do we need to do? What hashtag do we need to come up with or something to ensure we get MODOK Season 2?
Keep tweeting at Hulu. With the ending, we joked with Hulu like, "Look, it's gonna, their fate is up to you literally. Like, it's life and death stakes for you to pick up the show now." So yeah, let 'em know if you like it, you know. Hopefully, just tell people to watch and you know, I'm feeling good hopefully we'll get a second season.
Say we get Season Two, shoot out some characters here you're going to throw on the show come Hell or high water.
It's gonna be even more X-Men-heavy, I'll tell you that much.
Oh yeah, I've got to do Season Two. Before we got the okay to use some of them, I was like, "Let me see how well their lawyers know these characters." So, you know, Lila Cheney is in the pilot and it's like, "Okay, we got away with that. Let's see what we can do next." And then eventually it was like, "All right, Mister Sinister isn't here, they're fine with us using you know, these characters." The X-Men flood gates have opened. So yeah, there are some bigger, bigger guys I'd love to have show up Season Two. You know, I think I would love to write a "Storm/M.O.D.O.K." scene if I'm allowed to so... That would be my big pick, yeah.
So it's safe to say you do know where the future of this particular story goes.
Yeah, we have a rough structure of what Season Two will be and how we kinda answer some of those big dangling questions. But yeah, we're excited to keep that story going.prevnext
Future of Marvel Animation
You're dabbling in Marvel animation now. Now, of course, MODOK certainly is geared towards adults, like the guy gets his eye poked out in the teaser trailer and it's insane. What other Marvel properties do you think could really excel at animation, whether it is adult, whether it's like a Power Pack family show, what properties would you like to see?
Well, I was raised on X-Men: The Animated Series, so I would love to have a hand in that and get to help bring that back to animation. That would be one I would love to do. Power Pack, that's a great pitch! Power Pack is awesome. I think they should absolutely bring that in as an animated show or a kid's show. I know there's a Devil Dinosaur one I think coming out soon, that's fun. Oh, I would love to do a Beta Ray Bill animated show, that would be a big one for me.
All 10 episodes of MODOK hit Hulu on May 21st. If you haven't signed up for Hulu yet you can try it out here.0comments
What other Marvel characters would you like to see get an animated series? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments section or by hitting our writer @AdamBarnhardt up on Twitter to chat all things MCU!
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