Jen Walters Rips Up the Marvel Formula in the ‘She-Hulk’ Season One Finale
"I smash fourth walls and bad endings. And sometimes Matt Murdock."
***SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses the events of the season one finale of ‘She-Hulk’.***
‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ has always been upfront about what kind of show it is, namely a superhero legal comedy with meta self-awareness. So it only makes sense that the series wraps up its first season with those themes at the forefront. Even the most original and inventive Marvel series (WandaVision, Moon Knight) have succumbed to the standard MCU ending, i.e. overstuffed CGI battles that wreck entire cities. Because how else do you end a comic book movie or saga? It’s part of the genre’s DNA at this point.
And She-Hulk feints at a similar ending: after getting arrested for hulking out at the gala, Jennifer finds herself with no job, no apartment, and an inhibitor chip preventing her from transforming into She-Hulk. While she is clearly the injured party, the media narrative has turned against her, labeling She-Hulk as out of control and unstable (in a nod to the media’s actual treatment of victimized famous women). In need of a reset, Jen goes to Emil Blonsky’s retreat, which she is shocked to discover is hosting an Intelligencia incel meet-up. Not only that, but Emil, as Abomination, is their guest speaker. The event quickly goes off the rails, as Todd (revealed to be HulkKing) injects himself with Jen’s stolen blood and hulks out. The CGI battle quickly ensues, with Titania busting through the walls, Abomination fighting, and even the Hulk smashing in through the ceiling. It’s a hulk free-for-all until Jen pulls a time-out, shouting that none of the storylines make sense.
Jen then pulls up the Disney+ menu screen, and swings from her box to Marvel Assembled. She makes her way through the Disney lot, where she confronts the ‘She-Hulk’ writers room over the unoriginal ending. The writers tell her that they take their orders from Kevin, by which we assume they mean Marvel CEO Kevin Feige. But as She-Hulk storms Feige’s office, she discovers that there is no Feige. There is only K.E.V.I.N., an A.I. robot that stands for Knowledge Enhanced Visual Interconnectivity Nexus.
An A.I. robot running Marvel Studios makes sense, if you think about it. How else would we get the slickly engineered, eerily similar and seemingly endless barrage of content? Clearly, the MCU is the work of evil robots. Jen then rips K.E.V.I.N. a new one, taking the robot to task for, well, everything that fans criticize Marvel over. In her rant she touches on the MCU’s over-reliance on daddy issues, its need to thread Easter eggs into every end-credits scene, it’s over-reliance on big smashy finales. And also, when are we getting the X-Men?!
But Jen isn’t just content to let her show happen to her. It’s her series, goddammit, and she’s taking agency over her own story. It’s a sly, subversively feminist twist for a Marvel heroine to write her way out of an unsatisfying ending. And Jen does it using her smarts and reasoning alone. And she’s got NOTES. Jen takes away Todd-Hulk, because he’s already a villain as a shitty incel guy. She also wants less CGI, less cameos, a day time wrap-up, and the return of Daredevil. Jen reminds K.E.V.I.N. that hulks smash things. But while Bruce smashes buildings, she jokes “I smash fourth walls and bad endings. And sometimes Matt Murdock.” Jen then returns to her own show, where Todd is arrested, Abomination goes back to prison, and Daredevil is just…there. Jen gets what she wants, on her terms. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law ends the way it began, with low stakes, irreverent jokes, and a willingness to poke fun at its own genre.
(featured image: Marvel)
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