‘She Hulk’ Completely Broke the MCU’s Fourth Wall, But Did It Work?

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She-Hulk is one of those shows where you can see how, with a little push in the right direction, she could have done really well. But the show’s creators were outspoken about making a statement about toxic masculinity and letting that guiding political agenda drive action, rather than telling a good story that integrates the issue into the narrative.

As I pointed out when I first wrote about the show, the sheer cruelty of the message takes center stage and even turns the main character, Jennifer Walters/She Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) into a supporting character, maybe even a mainstay, in the employ of of the agenda.

Art does not necessarily have to be devoid of politics, but it must not exist in the service of politics. Then it becomes propaganda. It is clear that great art can convey political themes and ideas. From Schindler’s List to The Mississippi Fire to The Mission, many great films tackle political and cultural ideas in clever, insightful, and often disturbing ways. But She-Hulk has put the proverbial cart before the horse, mitigating its effect.

Over the Course of Nine Episodes, Several ideas Popped into our Heads:

  • All men are pigs and the few exceptions are jerks, idiots, or pranksters (like the D-list superheroes Walters meets at Abomination Retreat).
  • The few good guys you meet will end up horrible and the horrible guys you meet are really bad.
  • Obviously, writing a strong female character requires the entire show to revolve around men and dating. When the show features a character who is so remorseful and caring when he finds out that Jane isn’t seeing anyone, he doesn’t realize how the show itself is pushing that very idea.
  • Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) is the one exception to the horrible pigman rule. Oh, and Benedict Wong, though, is a great character who sits outside of the dating story while Murdock lies in Walters’ bed.

In She-Hulk, all the men are terrible with very few exceptions, but many women are too, including celebrity Tatiana. She-Hulk’s head is an idiot. The man who presents the award for best lawyer is a concession. It’s a long, exhausting show of evil men, beaten over our heads from start to finish.

The problem is simple: Not only does this lull us to sleep, it also assumes that the only way to make She-Hulk look strong is to surround her with weak men and sexist women. This is never a good way to make the protagonist look better than anyone else. If you want a strong character, male or female, make her real and give her real stakes and tests to beat her.

You don’t write a smart character by making everyone around them stupid. This is legit, and so is everything in She-Hulk.

This includes the addition of Intelligentsia, a group of misogynistic eight-channel trolls who genuinely hate She-Hulk for that alone. It’s supposed to be a complete commentary on how people will hate the She-Hulk show (and maybe the kind of self-fulfilling arrogant prophecy that triggers pop culture wars on the internet) and how a certain toxic corner of fans seem to hate only women. in general, but it fails because of how strange the composition of the group is.

Anonymous online groups don’t hire people to seduce and record women, they don’t know real life and they hire motivational speakers. All this is a ridiculous and groundbreaking dive. Make your opponents believable or they’ll start feeling cheap tricks and nothing really dangerous. The leader of the group of clowns is neither scary nor surprising.

This reminds me a bit of Riddler in The Batman. I loved the villain himself, but his group of followers, also an online group of extreme trolls, seemed utterly implausible. On the other hand, I found the final chapter of that movie totally weird and I think everything would have been much better with this full clip.

Regardless, when it comes to She-Hulk’s constant messages, I have to give her a firm thumbs up. The story is thin and the talent of the actors is lost in the eloquent fights and endless handshakes of the guys. She-Hulk spends an episode obsessing over her phone waiting for her latest lover to text her, as if she were a 19-year-old girlfriend and not a mature, professional woman. It’s an insult to her character.

What I enjoyed was the breaking of the fourth wall that permeates the show, although I think it gets lost here as well in a story with no meat on the bones. In the final episode, She-Hulk comes face to face with Intelligentsia and then the Hulk bursts into the room and Tatiana seems destined for an epic showdown as She-Hulk turns to the camera and basically says, “Wait, that’s not Right, none of this makes sense.

She then jumps out of the show, appears in the Disney+ UI, and then jumps from the She-Hulk icon down through an empty space into the “real world”, where she first encounters the writer’s room and then he visits Kevin Feige, though not Kevin Feige, boss of everything in the MCU: It’s K.E.V.I.N. Robot is the real brains behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She confronts him about the MCU’s approach to ending almost all of his shows and movies and demands that he make some changes.

As a side note, he’s kind of smart, though I’m not sure he works perfectly here, especially since She-Hulk’s ending itself is great. But I like the idea and I wish they would have the courage to at least take it there. It’s not perfect, but it never hurts to have a little self-reflection, especially on a project as complex, and formulaic, as Marvel’s huge project.

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