In this FandomWire Video Essay, we explain what She-Hulk actually does right.
Check out the video below:
Subscribe & hit the Notification Bell so you never miss a video!
What She-Hulk Did Right
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and quickly became one of the most talked about projects so far but not exactly for good reasons. The fourth-wall-breaking character has sparked backlash online over comments about men, interacting with celebrities, and how comedic the series is. With characters like Wong, Abomination, Daredevil, and Hulk showing up in the series, fans of the popular superhero universe fear that these characters will turn into nothing but jokes and have expressed their disapproval of where the MCU is moving forward. Despite the criticism, She-Hulk is set to be a major player in the rest of the Multiverse Saga with expectations of her joining the Avengers in Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. The comic accuracy, cultural importance, and television writing are all aspects of this Disney+ show that prove She-Hulk did something right.
She-Hulk first appeared in Savage She-Hulk #1 in 1979 and since then has been a main character within Marvel Comics. She has shown up in events like Civil War on Tony Stark’s side as well as Secret Invasion; she’s also joined teams like The Avengers and Fantastic Four. Despite how large the Marvel Universe is, She-Hulk has strong ties to iconic characters, including The Thing, Wasp, Captain America, and Spider-Woman, as just a few of the characters she has fought alongside. Within the She-Hulk comics, she faces her most development as a person when paired alongside other heroes, as these interactions have always been crucial to her. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law takes this concept perfectly by having iconic MCU characters show up within the show. From being the lawyer for Abomination, she also defends Wong and fights monsters alongside him. Daredevil is also set to be showing up in the series alongside She-Hulk to fight crime. So far within the series, we’ve seen She-Hulk’s character growth from these other characters. Specifically, Wong has been helping Jennifer Walters figure out her superhero alter ego and the importance of helping people.
One piece of controversy that the series faced was the inclusion of Meghan Thee Stallion as a guest star. Despite this controversy, this actually has a history in She-Hulk comics. Celebrities have shown up frequently in Marvel Comics, especially She-Hulk comics, including former US presidents and musicians, who Walters ends up defending in comics. The Meghan Thee Stallion cameo acts as a surprise for star Tatiana Maslaney who is a huge fan of her work, as well as just how popular Meghan is. When it comes to the comics, celebrities who are currently at the height of their careers are the ones showing up in Marvel Comics.
The concept of fourth wall breaks within the MCU has been one that sparks backlash. Fans of this shared universe are invested in this large-scale story, and so when a superhero knows it’s just tv, the immersion feels broken to the audience. A fourth wall break can be defined as looking directly into the camera and talking to the audience; the character is aware they are a fictional character for the purpose of entertainment. The sole exception to breaking immersion has been Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool, who has become one of the most iconic characters of all time since the 2016 film and is synonymous with the fourth-wall-breaking antics. Despite this connection, She-Hulk was talking to the audience back in 1987, a decade before Deadpool started.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t been shy from straying away from the comics when it comes to certain characters or storylines. The Guardians of the Galaxy, Taskmaster, Hulk, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel are just a few of the characters who share little to no similarities with their comic book counterparts. What came as a surprise was that She-Hulk didn’t end up on this list. Jessica Gao, the writer of She-Hulk, instead decided to embrace the entirety of the comics rather than just certain aspects. The romantic life of Jennifer Walters has a long history from the comics, including Tony Stark and Hercules. While we haven’t seen her dating any heroes yet, the show has not shied away from having her date with most of the series so far, focusing on her trying to find a guy who likes both Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk.
In episode 8 of the series, Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, shows up in the red and yellow suit based on the comic run by Tim Sale. The inclusion of the devil from Hell’s Kitchen within the wider MCU has sparked backlash from fans. After watching the Netflix series, fans found it hard to comprehend the idea of a more comedic version of this character. Yet when it came to the comics, Matt Murdock has been frequently represented as a more light-hearted character but still maintains a serious tone to him. This episode features Daredevil still as his serious self but makes a few quips throughout the episode. While he isn’t known for his quippiness he makes jokes throughout the comics and even within the Netflix series. Daredevil’s appearance in this episode exists as a way to carry over the stories of the former series as well as turning him more into his comic counterpart. While the exact reason for Matt to leave Hell’s Kitchen temporarily isn’t ever explained, he never fully resides there in the comics. During large scale events like Secret Wars or Civil War, he often left his home in order to protect the world. The possibility of Daredevil knowing of something big going on outside of Hell’s Kitchen is definitely plausible given the return of Kingpin.
Phase 4 of the MCU has introduced a diverse group of heroes, with characters like Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, Phastos, and America Chavez joining the universe. With She-Hulk now joining this roster, the show has made it clear the importance of this character. Ever since her debut in 1979, she has existed as more than just the female version of Hulk. The existence of a female lawyer who isn’t seeking love for confidence but rather for pleasure is something you don’t see. Throughout the series so far, they’ve commented on the harassment women face inside and outside of work as well as how social media comments on it. In episode 6, there’s a brief shot of memes and comments on a Reddit-like site that attack She-Hulk. Even outside of this show, we’ve seen something strikingly similar on places like Twitter or Reddit, with memes calling the show misogynist. The show has an extremely accurate portrayal of backlash towards Jenifer Walters within the world of the Marvel Universe and one that replicates how viewers have reacted to the release of the show.
Walters joining the wider Marvel Universe is one that finds importance within the cultural aspect of superheroes and controversy at the same time. Within these films and series so far, the female heroes haven’t had their alter egos be seen in positions of power. Characters like Natasha Romanoff, Carol Danvers, and Kate Bishop haven’t been seen as having successful personal lives, unlike Jennifer Walters. The fame of She-Hulk exists solely because Walters is a successful lawyer leading to the courtroom fight in the first episode. The world had zero knowledge of She-Hulk’s existence, including Titania, until Walters transformed, throwing her into the spotlight.
The existence of a superhero lawyer isn’t new since Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, has existed since 1964 and become one of the most iconic heroes to date. But when She-Hulk was created, the goal was to create a female character whose personal life is bigger than her superhero life. They also have an additional layer of the struggle that women face in the world that this character faces head-on. Twitter user Matt Ramos states, “The scene where Jen explains how she’s able to control her anger was easily my favorite part of this episode. As a man, it’s something I didn’t think about”. This tweet encapsulates exactly what this show has been trying to accomplish so far. The She-Hulk comics are Marvel’s most successful female-based comics, so replicating the success and importance was going to be tricky. Given the show’s female-centered crew, including writer and director Jessica Gao, Marvel knew going into this series that they have to represent Jenifer as more than just a female hulk.
When it came to the writing of this show, Gao took a different approach than what we’ve seen for Marvel shows on Disney+ so far. Shows like Moon Knight and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are written as extended movies where every two episodes represents an act similar to a film. Even WandaVision, which starts off as a sitcom, is clearly written in the exact same pattern as other shows. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is instead written as a TV show, as every episode exists almost in their own continuity. There is an overall story for the season, but the episodes don’t necessarily flow together seamlessly. The self-contained episode that was the wedding adds onto this idea. The episode doesn’t feel like a filler but instead works to expand upon Walters as a character instead of the plot.
Characters like Hulk and Wong showed up in the series only briefly, like guest stars do in TV shows. It’s no surprise that series like The Office or New Girl featured guest stars throughout their runs as a surprise to the viewers while also providing a plot. Marvel Studios treated their superheroes like guest stars instead of grabbing several iconic celebrities outside of Meghan Thee Stallion. The combination of guest stars and self-contained episodes helped make She-Hulk exist as an actual superhero show rather than an elongated film.
The Marvel Universe is continuing to evolve and move towards Secret Wars. Despite this large-scale story being built up, it’s important to not forget the characters being introduced. Jennifer Walters is one of the biggest characters in Marvel Comics and exists as more than just another Hulk. This series had a tough job of tackling this character correctly as well as being meaningful to the cultural importance. The combination of comic accuracy, cultural importance, and TV writing makes She-Hulk one of the best Marvel Disney+ series. Thank you for watching, whether it’s from Sakaar or Hell’s Kitchen, and make sure to like and subscribe and tune in for more great videos.