Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

MODOK Series Creator Jordan Blum Reveals What Went Into Bringing The Marvel Supervillain To Life - Exclusive Interview

Producer Jordan Blum cut his teeth on the long-running animated show "American Dad," having worked on the series for almost a decade in various capacities. He took that experience and parlayed it into expanding the Marvel Universe by co-creating the adult animated stop-motion series "MODOK" based on the supervillain of the same name.

MODOK — which stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing — is an egomaniacal supervillain with a giant head, tiny arms and legs, and a floating chair. The series, the first season of which is now streaming on Hulu, follows MODOK as he struggles to maintain control of his evildoing organization and juggle the needs of his demanding family after his company is purchased by a tech giant.

Blum co-created the show with actor/comedian Patton Oswalt ("The King of Queens," "Agents of SHIELD"), who also voices MODOK. The series also stars Aimee Garcia ("Dexter," "Lucifer") as wife Jodie, Melissa Fumero ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine") as daughter Melissa, Ben Schwartz ("Parks and Recreation") as son Lou, Wendi McLendon-Covey ("The Goldbergs") as MODOK's arch-nemesis Monica, and various guest stars such as Jon Hamm as Iron Man.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Blum chatted about what went in to creating the TV backstory for such a unique character, how "Robot Chicken" and "American Dad" influenced the show, and whether there'll be a live-action MODOK movie in the future.

Creating a series based around MODOK was a no-brainer for Jordan Blum

What drew you to the character of MODOK when creating this series?

I've always loved the Marvel oddities, the weirdos of the Marvel Universe. Obviously, I love my X-Men and my Avengers and all that, but especially the villains. And MODOK is this amazing Jack Kirby design that, when you see it, it stays with you forever. This giant floating head with baby arms and legs who wants to take over the world and takes itself very seriously. And when I was talking to Marvel about possible comedy projects with them, he was the first character that popped into my head — a character that Patton and I had so much love for.

And you ask questions about these characters, like "Where does this guy go at night?" "What does it take to run an evil organization like A.I.M.?" And suddenly, this comedy is kind of born out of, "What are the scenes that we don't get to see? What happens when MODOK leaves that Captain America panel? Where does he go? What does he do?" And to me, it was one of the easiest shows to come up with and build because it was all there already in the character.

Where did you draw inspiration from for his backstory and family life?

We were like, "Who would marry him? What would his kids be like?" I've worked in animation for a long time, and from "The Simpsons" forward, there's absolutely a kind of a tradition of a type of family. And we wanted to break the mold a little bit and build a family that was mixed faith and mixed race and mixed MODOK people and normal people, and kind of have it resemble a modern family that looked very different, I think, than what's been traditionally seen on television. We wanted to humanize them in that they're messy and complicated, and the problems between MODOK and his family don't get resolved at the end of every episode with a big hug. It's much more complicated than that.

These characters are going to grow and change over the season, which I thought would be fun and would, hopefully, surprise people. When you're not maybe expecting as much heart, hopefully, in the show, when you see it for the first time, and that we could make you relate to these big-headed Marvel monsters, and give them something that you saw yourself in.

Jordan Blum has a soft spot for MODOK's daughter Melissa because she's 'so cool'

The series stars some serious heavy hitters like Patton Oswalt, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jon Hamm, Nathan Fillion — the list goes on and on. Was getting such high-profile stars a goal or did it just shake out that way?

It kind of shook out that way. We were just like, "Who's perfect for this character?" And then we were so lucky that we got every first choice. There was no settling with this cast. It was a mixture of our incredible casting director and Patton, who had relationships with people, and they were excited to do it. And it's funny, there are some people who just don't get asked to do this [kind of show]. Like, we had Whoopi Goldberg play Poundcakes. She was so excited. She was like, "I don't get to do this enough anymore. I love these kinds of crazy roles!" So I think with animation, you're very lucky that it's low commitment, and it's fun, and it lets these actors play in a way that sometimes they don't get to in more live action. So, yeah, we're just blessed with this cast, and I still can't believe anyone said yes, so I'm very stoked for who we got.

Who's your favorite character on the show and why?

I have a lot of love for [MODOK's daughter] Melissa. To me, she's such a fun character. Melissa Fumero's performance, too, really added to it. It was a character that we kind of had an idea. We wanted her to be almost like MODOK in high school, but successful. Everyone wants to be her, or date her, and no one even questions that she's MODOK-ized.

But even though she's the "it" girl, the most popular person, there's this drive in her to kind of prove herself to her dad, even though she can't stand him. She wants that recognition. I thought humanizing that — and that was something that Melissa Fumero did — just made her so real. Plus, I just love her design. I love that she's got those rhinestones on her hover chair, and you forget that she's a MODOK when you're watching her ... she's so cool. I just love her, and I love that we were able to bring her into the comics as well, making her a character in the comic Patton and I wrote. So being able to add her to the Marvel Universe was really fun.

Seth Green also has his hand in the series, which has tinges of "Robot Chicken" throughout. Did you specifically team up with Seth for it to have that feel?

Well, Seth is a co-owner of Stoopid Buddy, which is the studio that produced the show. So they really came to us with the style, where it was like, "We don't want to do 'Robot Chicken.' We want this to be glossier, and we're going to have this handheld photography for it, so you really feel like you're behind the scenes of MODOK's life." And they just did this test that blew us away, and we were like, "This is so cool." I've never seen stop motion look like this. They were involved in developing the look of the show and producing it. I'm a huge fan of them and a little bit obsessed as well, so I always nerded out when going there [to the Stoopid Buddy studio]. The studio itself is like Willy Wonka's factory. It's unbelievable.

Jordan Blum reveals his dream project and how American Dad influenced MODOK

You got your start on "American Dad." How did that experience prepare you for "MODOK"?

It's such a funny show, and the writing is so sharp, I loved getting to work with that staff for years. And it really informed how I tell stories, and how you utilize animation as a storytelling device, and what you can do, and how far you can take things. We took a lot of that from "American Dad," a lot of how you kind of tell these big, insane stories, but the center of it has to be this relatable, emotional story between the family or coworkers or something that. If you don't care, then the show doesn't work. You can't just do jokes. You can't just do crazy gags. You have to be invested, and that was something that was drilled into me at "American Dad," and I'm so grateful for it.

Now that you've joined the Marvel Universe, are there any dream projects beyond "MODOK" that you'd like to be part of?

Yes, anything! But specifically X-Men, which is my life. I live and breathe X-Men stuff. We got some X-Men characters into the show, which we were really excited about. But if I can have anything to do with the X-world in general, whether it's writing a comic or working on a movie or TV show, that's a lifelong goal of mine.

Do you hope to direct the live-action "MODOK" in the future?

I would love to. I would love for Patton to keep playing him across all platforms. I can't read a MODOK comic without hearing Patton now. And I hope he becomes synonymous with the character. I would love that. There's sort of a live-action Patton MODOK in the season, but I won't spoil it. Keep your eyes peeled.