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Does She-Hulk Break the Fourth Wall in the Comics?

Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters and Mark Rufffalo as Bruce Banner in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law‘s latest trailer was filled with exciting surprises for Marvel fans. It included glimpses of Daredevil villains Matador and Man-Bull, Frog-Man, and Abomination (Tim Roth), and even captures a bit of Wong’s (Benedict Wong) return to the MCU. However, it also included one moment that might’ve caught fans a bit off guard. While Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is undergoing Hulk training with her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), he tells her that if she goes back to her old life as a lawyer, he would respect that. Walters then turns to the camera and says, “He doesn’t mean that.” Both Banner and Walters then look at the camera and seem a bit startled by our presence.

So, did Walters really just break the fourth wall in the latest She-Hulk trailer? Breaking the fourth wall is a pretty rare occurrence in which the invisible wall separating the audience from the actors is broken. In a story, actors are presumably unable to see through the wall and don’t realize they’re being watched by an audience. However, when an actor does see through that wall and directly addresses the audience, it is called breaking the fourth wall. It’s basically the story becoming aware of itself and of the audience watching it. And it’s a device that’s been used for ages, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Fleabag.

When we think of breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool breaking the fourth wall is one of the primary examples that comes to mind. In the comics and films, Deadpool frequently reiterates that he knows he lives in a fictional universe and can therefore interact with the audience. This certainly increases the humor level and gives his mouthiness another outlet. However, She-Hulk also breaks the fourth wall in the comic books and she was actually doing it long before Deadpool was.

She-Hulk breaks the fourth wall in comics

She-Hulk breaking the fourth wall in Marvel Comics
(Marvel Comics)

Can She-Hulk break the fourth wall? She-Hulk’s fourth wall breaking actually ties back to 1989, about 9 years after her initial creation by Stan Lee and John Buscema. It was at this point that comic book writer and artist, John Byrne, decided to author his own solo series for She-Hulk titled Sensational She-Hulk. In the series, Byrne got a little creative and put his own spin on the character. Most notably, he gave her self-awareness of her life in a fictional comic book universe. In many instances, she addresses the audience, or even Byrne himself.

While bickering with her author and tossing sarcastic comments at readers was humorous, there was some interesting artistic elements of her fourth-wall breaking too. For example, in some instances she could be seen literally tearing through the page, attempting to jump out of a comic book square, or walking across an advertisement to make it into the next comic book page. Other times, she’d threaten to fire her creators and narrators, or reprimand them for losing the plot. Sometimes, she even pressed audiences to buy her comic book series.

In She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney Plus, She-Hulk breaks the fourth wall but only does so subtly. However, around 1997, Deadpool also started breaking the fourth wall after Joe Kelly wrote a solo Deadpool series. Hence, while fans might initially think that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is copying an element of the Deadpool films, it was actually She-Hulk that started the fourth wall breaking the first place. It was an iconic element of the Sensational She-Hulk and now She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will be bringing it back.

(featured image: Disney)

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Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.