‘Hit Monkey’ is a new animated series adapted from the Marvel character of the same name and is available to stream on Hulu from November 17.
Fans who weren’t reading comics in 2010 might not be familiar with this character who was created to face off Deadpool.
Hit Monkey, voiced by Fred Tatasciore, is a lethally trained macaque that is apparently famous enough that his comic spanned four issues before he disappeared into oblivion. His character has been kept alive over the years by making cameos in other comic stories.
Other members of the voice cast include Jason Sudeikis, Olivia Munn, Ally Maki, George Takei, and Nobi Nakanishi.
The character is actually a monkey who is a contract killer, as per the series title. He’s a Japanese macaque casually known as snow monkey who dresses like Vincent Vega from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction.’
Another resemblance Hit Monkey has to Vega is that he shoots people just as frequently as the latter. That’s more about what this character is about, which poses a problem for the series built around him.
The first season of ‘Hit Monkey’ spans ten half-hour episodes and tells the same origin story in the comic book series.
The first episode is a rough replication of the first issue of the comic series, although there is some liberty granted to the screenplay writers hence bringing forth some new and different aspects.
That’s not a problem for the series though, as witnessed in the past, there are tons of adaptations that don’t follow the original material to the T when it comes to their screen versions.
In fact, most hits from the Marvel Cinematic Universe were created that way, with the adapted content improving on the source material. Though a majority of these alterations are fantastic, the diehard fans typically take notice and offense in some sort of way.
In ‘Hit Monkey,’ avid fans will be surprised and underwhelmed by this adaptation which comes across as weak and uneven when it comes to the tone.
Some changes made to the screen version are maybe unavoidable as four issues provide barely even content to span five hours of Television.
As a result, the show feels pretty slow at times and, the audience can’t help to notice the inconsistencies regarding the pace throughout the series.
The attempt to fill up the running time by infusing additional plot twists into the narrative really complicates the series instead of making it an unforgettable spectacle.
What was initially a straightforward narrative of an assassin being killed in front of a monkey by an army that murders the monkey’s entire clan, who in return goes on a killing spree to revenge his family has now become not only generic but quite complicated in this series.
By the time ‘Hit Monkey’ rolls out its 10th episode wrapping up the first leg of the series, audiences are stuck watching failed attempts at trying to inject emotional growth into the main character which doesn’t do any justice to the story fans are accustomed to and the version the filmmakers are trying to create.
Bryce, the de facto lead character in the show, is voiced by the award-winning actor Jason Sudeikis. This character is practically a co-lead alongside the title antihero, but in this adaptation, he gets the opportunity to speak something he fully capitalizes.
Bryce is intended to be a new character that fulfills a crucial role that originated in the comics. He is the assassin who gets killed in front of Hit Monkey. He returns as a ghost to mentor his protégé, and while the comic version of this character is stoic and taciturn, Bryce is nothing of that sort.
The choice of Sudeikis as the voice of Bryce is quite on point considering the funny man can be quite the motormouth, an aspect he puts fully on display in his performance. He actually barely shuts up as he drums threads of consciousness narration, which can really get on the viewers’ nerves.
The first half of ‘Hit Monkey’ is flooded by a thoroughly uninspired structure of the lead characters murdering their way to the top of the yakuza food chain. The political aspect is generic, and no real depth has been witnessed so far.
However, things seem to level up in the sixth episode when the daredevil villain Lady Bullseye is introduced into the mix. This baddie is vicious in her own unique way, and her black and white costume injects some variety into the visual style of the series.
It’s not entirely surprising that ‘Hit Monkey’ was made as the series was first developed by Marvel Television which was responsible for misfires such as ‘Runways,’ ‘Cloak and Dagger’ and ‘Inhumans’ before it shut down.
Full creative control returned to Marvel Studios, and interestingly this title was one of the two projects from the failed Television that survived its crash, the other show being ‘M.O.D.O.K.’
When one looks at ‘Hit Monkey,’ nothing, particularly, suits the status of the current Marvel brand, which is the leading entertainment conglomerate when it comes to comic adaptations.
It isn’t unique enough to warrant a place on the big or small screen, not even on the House of Mouse’s streaming platform Disney+ hence why it was whisked away to an outside the box debut at Hulu.
One can’t help to feel like ‘Hit Monkey’ is one of those contractual obligations for the parties involved which must be fulfilled.
It is one of those projects which seemed like a brilliant idea back in the day but has since become uneasy and awkward when displayed in the present day and age.
‘Hit Monkey’ is not anywhere near what marvel is known for when it comes to its productions, but as long as one can waddle their way halfway through the movie, the remaining half is a bit promising. The world famous studio, though, has plenty of other worthwhile comic characters from their catalog that they can develop with more epic and thrilling arcs, aspects which sadly are void in ‘Hit Monkey.’