Jen Calling Out the Daddy Issues of the MCU on ‘She-Hulk’ Is Me
**Spoilers for all of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law lie ahead**
She-Hulk: Attorney At Law has consistently been the show where I’ve felt seen not just as a young white woman who is single and trying to figure life out, but as a Marvel fan who sees how the Marvel Cinematic Universe works from the outside. I’m talking specifically about the way that Jen comments on the “dude-bros” and the naysayers of her show. The series, overall, had a fascinating commentary on the toxic nature of the MCU fandom as a whole and so it isn’t surprising that the finale took a deep dive into another aspect of fandom: Character arcs.
In the finale for She-Hulk, we get to see Jen having some time to talk with K.E.V.I.N. (Not that Kevin but making an extremely good joke about the all-seeing being that is Marvel Studios President and mastermind Kevin Feige.) Jen breaks the fourth wall when she thinks the finale is getting a little out of hand and so she breaks into the Disney+ home page for the Marvel franchise and heads to Marvel Studios: Assembled to have a chat with the writers for her show. No, literally.
There, she starts to talk with them about overstuffing her finale and how it didn’t make any sense and if this was her show she should have a say in it. When the writers say that it was “Kevin” who told them to do it, we all instantly assumed they meant Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. The reality is that K.E.V.I.N. is a robot. Does this mean that Feige is really a robot? Maybe! But it also let Jen have some questions of her own answered while she was there.
One of those questions being about the daddy issues of the MCU. She broke it down by characters (which I will also do) but she asked K.E.V.I.N. what the deal was with all these men and their daddy issues and once again, Jen Walters is not wrong in this line of thinking. There are a lot of them! So let’s breakdown the ones she mentioned and talk a bit about them and their journey with their fathers. As we’ve written in the past, on the whole, the MCU is a place populated by terrible fathers.
This picture was on purpose because at the core of Tony’s issues with his father is Steve Rogers. And he basically says as much throughout the MCU. In Howard Stark’s eyes, Steve was his friend and someone he misses and he clearly talked about the supersoldier enough that it left a lasting impression on Tony. So much so that he even comments on it to Steve. Their relationship is instantly seen through this lens. We know that Tony has feelings about how his father viewed Steve and it only then furthers our understanding of the strain in Tony and Howard Stark’s relationship as we learn more about it.
Tony’s feelings about Howard are two-fold. He’s angry because his father was rarely there for him but he also feels like he pales in comparison. Tony’s dad issues are because of the shadow that he’s put himself in. Tony is a genius and yet that doesn’t seem to be enough for him and those feelings are clearly impacting his life as an adult.
And they’re also the first set of daddy issues we’re introduced to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re there in Iron Man with not only the way that Tony reacts to being in charge of his father’s company but also with his relationship with Obadiah Stane.
There is a resolution by the end of Tony’s arc. In Avengers: Endgame, as Tony and Steve are trying to figure out how they can go back in time and get the Tesseract that they lost in the time heist, they both realize that it is at a facility that connects both their past. They go on this journey together with Steve running into Peggy Carter and stabbing his own wound even deeper and for Tony, he’s confronted with his own father right before he’s born.
Howard is worried about being a dad and in that moment, Tony gets to give his own father advice on how to be a good dad after learning from his own father’s mistakes when Tony became a father to Morgan. His “daddy issues” arc did seem to come to a conclusion in the way that he talked to Howard and their dynamic but it was an extremely important part of who Tony was.
Thor and Loki
Two brothers with daddy issues? Delicious! Obviously Thor and Loki’s daddy issues stem from the same source but they do have very different reasons for these issues. Loki’s come from being lied to by Odin for his entire life and that fuels his more villainous tendencies and Thor’s distrust comes from that same lie but it doesn’t exactly have the same betrayal for Thor that it does Loki. But Loki’s daddy issues and Thor’s also differ in the sense of responsibility that they’re both burdened with.
Loki is burdened with a glorious purpose (as we know) but Thor was burdened with the weight of Asgard on his shoulders. He is constantly meant to be prepared to rule and take that on and it does bleed into his relationship with Loki. And so while the root of their problems come from their back and forth with each other, it can also all be a testament to Odin and his bad parenting techniques.
The two brothers are a fascinating look at the siblings of the MCU (most of which have daddy issues, I might add) because while they are both angry for a number of reasons, they’re both more similar than they want to admit. And you can see it in Loki’s actions and Thor’s pain. You see it in the hurt that still exists within Thor even after he thinks Loki is dead (which I can’t wait to see how the MCU series Loki ties in with Thor’s current storyline).
The two of them are struggling not only with their father but within their own relationship and because we get to see the two of them bouncing off each other, we get to see how deep those “issues” with Odin run and it is a lot to unpack.
Two daddies, one Star Lord, a whole lot of issues. Peter Quill has a lot of trauma to unpack thanks to the men in his life when he was growing up. His father vanished (something we learned in Guardians of the Galaxy) and we got to see his relationship with his grandfather very briefly. For the most part, the one that Peter turned to the most was his mother but she was dying from cancer and Peter was forced to come to terms with it at such a young age and his grandfather, in what we saw, didn’t know how to help his grandson cope while also dealing with his daughter’s death.
It is how Peter ends up with Yondu, his second father figure. And his relationship with Yondu doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the kind of man that Quill can be because it’s constantly Yondu talking down to him or threatening him and teaching him all about a life on the run. The reality is (which we learned in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) that he’s protecting him from his real father.
In comes the actually daddy: Ego. Ego is truly and honestly the worst and the minute that Peter hears that Ego, in his own way, was responsible for the death of Peter’s mother, that’s the end for him but there’s still a lot to unpack in how Peter learns about his father, his maybe powers, and the life he could have had (and what Ego actually wants to do with him) and it’s no wonder he has daddy issues.
So Jen says two daddies (which is true) but he had three different father figures. Four if we count David Hasselhoff.
And that’s just the men (and not even all of the male characters with daddy issues!) so Jen has a point but also I love that she sat down with K.E.V.I.N. and had a chat about this. This would be me if they ever let me talk to Kevin Feige and I thank She-Hulk: Attorney At Law for giving me this moment. Anyway, I did warn you all that this scene was me talking about the MCU so it’s no surprise I wrote a lot about these men. Let the daddy issues chat commence!
(image: Marvel Entertainment)
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