Why am I — and a dude who runs a Batman fansite — is reviewing an animated series on Netflix based on Elvis Presley’s wish to be a superhero/secret agent?
Because I CAN.
First up, a little disclaimer here: I am a lifelong, hardcore, diehard fan of Elvis Presley. If you’re a longtime reader of BOF, you know that I’ve never been shy when it comes to the things that make up my personal fandom. Hell, the top 3 of my personal fandom consists of — in no particular order — Batman, the Dallas Cowboys, and, of course, Elvis. (I’ll leave my love for the Dallas Cowboys, Evil Knievel, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, the Texas Longhorns, and KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, for another discussion/op-ed/podcast.)
So, when I first heard that an animated series — originally titled AGENT KING — was in the works at Netflix and would feature a late 1960s/early 1970s EP as a covert U.S. secret agent, I just knew it was going to be right up my alley!
See, Elvis was an O.G. comic book fanboy whose favorite comic book character as a kid was Freddy Freeman, AKA “Captain Marvel, Jr.” In addition to dreaming about flying to the Rock of Eternity faster than the speed of light, Elvis desired to be a U.S. federal law enforcement agent.
Via AGENT ELVIS, both happen.
The main cast consists of Matthew McConaughey as Elvis Presley — Rock Icon by day, Secret Agent/Vigilante by night; Kaitlin Olsen as CeCe Ryder — Elvis’ TCB handler/partner; Johnny Knoxville as Johnny Ray — Elvis’ mechanic/jack of all trades/buddy; Nicey Nash as Miss Bertie — Elvis’ domestic caretaker; Don Cheadle as The Commander — the head of TCB; and Spongebob Squarepants himself, Tom Kenny, as Elvis’ cocaine-sniffin’, weed-smokin’, and stripper/hooker-enthusiast Scatter the chimpanzee.
In a nutshell, AGENT ELVIS features Elvis (Yes, McConaughey sounds exactly like McConaughey, but it totally works) is at the height of his fame…but is bored AF with his life. Thus, he secretly resorts to vigilante justice for fun fighting hippies, drug dealers, and other sorts of street-level nefarious characters. Elvis’ covert actions catch the attention of TCB (The Central Bureau and not Taking Care of Business, Elvis’s motto), a secret U.S. government spy agency, who recruits The King to be one of their agents. Let the espionage shenanigans begin!
Part of AGENT ELVIS‘s charm is how it weaves actual events in Elvis’ life — the ’68 COMEBACK SPECIAL on NBC, Elvis meeting President Nixon in 1970, filming A CHANGE OF HABIT in 1969, the ELVIS: ALOHA FROM HAWAII TV concert broadcast in 1973, etc. — into real historical events (the 1969 Apolo 11 Moon landing, for example). Furthermore, the series includes real people as recurring characters throughout the episodes, such as…Richard Nixon (Gary Cole), Charles Manson (Fred Armisen), Howard Hughes (Jason Mantzoukas…and we find out why he pissed into mason jars!), Timony Leary (Chris Elliot), Stanley Kubrick (Dee Bradley Baker), George Clinton (voiced by himself), Paul McCartney (Simon Pegg), Robert Goulet (Ed Helms), Kurt Russell (Jamie Costa), and Elvis’ ex-wife, Pricilla Presley (who voices the young version of herself).
Other than Elvis and Scatter the Chimp, none of the main characters were real or based on actual people. And yes, Elvis really did have a chimp named Scatter that raised 10 kinds of hell at Graceland in the mid-1960s!
The show is also chock-full of 1960s/early 1970s references and historical Elvis anecdotes, though many may go over a lot of folk’s heads — especially the younger audience. It even addresses some of the “controversial” aspects of Elvis’ life such as not speaking out on social/political issues (“I’m just an entertainer,” he’d say), the myth that Elvis ripped off Black artists (His 1957 JET magazine interview with Louie Robinson where Elvis sets the record straight — “A lot of people seem to think I started this business. But rock ‘n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people. Let’s face it; I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that. But I always liked that kind of music.”). The soundtrack is full of classic and updated and remixed versions of Elvis songs are used very creatively throughout the episodes. I hope it gets released because I’d definitely buy it…even though I’m sure I already own all the songs!
This series is sorta a mix of BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, FOREST GUMP, with a huge heaping of Tarantino. It is also ridiculous, violent, bloody, crass, sexual, obscene, juvenile, and funny as hell. It is NOT for kids and a lot of Elvis fans — especially if you’re a vintage even older than me (i.e. blue-hair grandmothers who become Elvis fans in the 1950s).
I highly recommend it to those who enjoy goofy/crude adult humor and animation. I watched the 10 episodes over the course of a few days (It debuted on Netflix on March 17, 2023) and didn’t binge the entire thing. I definitely suggest that you space out the episodes because I think it’ll be more enjoyable to view that way. There’s also a really cool twist at the end involving one of the characters. If you’re a diehard Elvis fan, you’ll totally get and appreciate it!
Knowing how much Elvis loved superheroes and secret agents, he would’ve got a big kick out of AGENT ELVIS. I know I did. TCB⚡! – Bill “Jett” Ramey