Before you Hulk Smash me on Twitter, I should let you know that the following review contains spoilers for She-Hulk episode 3 — so keep that in mind before reading on.
OK. So, for the first couple of episodes, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of purpose in Jennifer Walters breaking the fourth wall. While it is an integral part of the comic, it’s not something that has been executed and utilised as well as it could have in the show. That is, until episode 3. In the latest episode, we see a welcome change wherein both the character and the writers seem a little bit more comfortable with not just themselves, but the audience that they’re writing for.
How do I know this? Well, our Lord and Saviour Wong makes an appearance in this episode, and in her fourth-wall breaks, Jennifer makes several references to the fact that us Marvel fans love Wong and want to see him, but also assures us in pre-anticipation of our criticism that She-Hulk is “not gonna be one of those cameo-every-week kinda shows.”
While I don’t think this exact comment is necessarily true (after all, we know Daredevil is set to make an appearance), this type of fourth-wall-breaking is astute and adds genuine dimension to the series, because it demonstrates that the writers’ room isn’t in some faraway bubble, blissfully unaware of what fans want — they’re all too aware of the discourse surrounding the show and the way that some fans think, so the fourth-wall-break is a really interesting way to help make Marvel fans feel seen.
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The good thing about Wong appearing in this episode is that he isn’t just there for fanservice. It’s actually an important addition to the series because it is able to seamlessly tie in Abomination’s return in Shang-Chi and the consequences of that in a pretty little bow. When Abomination and Wong returned in Shang-Chi, it seemed like a throwaway Easter egg by Feige to soothe unhappy Marvel fans with their favourite action figures.
That might have been the intention at the time, but continuing to reference that event in She-Hulk is some of the most effective world-building and cross-linking seen in Phase 4 so far, because up until now, a lot of the Phase 4 series and movies felt a little too self-contained, with Marvel throwing in all these origin stories with the hopes that it all makes sense by Phase 5. So, seeing some continuity outside of Wanda, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man was a welcome addition to the episode, even if Abomination’s story itself seems pretty inconsequential.
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The writers also sprinkled in a blink-and-you-miss-it reference to the Shadow Realm, which we know is the home of Clea as introduced in the Doctor Strange 2 post-credit-scene. These little references all bode well for Phase 5 and 6, and as Kronk would say, “oh yeah, it’s all coming together.”
My main criticism is that, from the trailers, Abomination’s role in She-Hulk seems a lot bigger than it actually is — but I doubt we will see much of him in the second half of the series, as his story arc seems to be resolved quite nicely by the end of the episode.
Abomination was definitely a one-dimensional villain in The Incredible Hulk, but through comedy, Tim Roth is able to flesh out the character with genuinely funny eccentricity: providing Russell Brand-like lightness and comic relief. Abomination’s addition to the series is a good one, with the bulk of his jokes actually landing, but nobody likes feeling a little… misled by trailers. It cheapens the experience.
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But one moment in episode 3 that was kept under wraps until earlier this week was the surprise cameo of Megan Thee Stallion in this episode, with the episode’s self-described B-plot (thanks, Jen) depicting Pug (Josh Segarra), another lawyer in the Superhuman division, helping the loathsome Dennis Bukowski (Drew Matthews) after he was swindled by an Asgardian shapeshifter pretending to be the musician.
Megan’s cameo is brief, but is definitely a stand-out moment that proves the MCU is just as culturally relevant as ever. This is the first episode to introduce a B-plot, so it’s a lot to get your head around and is definitely a change of pace, but after two episodes of Dennis making sexist jibes at Jen, watching him get his comeuppance and be humbled at last is definitely a moment fans will enjoy.
Unfortunately, the CGI hasn’t gotten any better (again, Abomination’s modelling being re-used from Shang-Chi only serves to amplify how amateurish She-Hulk’s CGI looks), but this episode definitely marks a positive turning point for the series, as it continues to address sexist microaggressions and consider themes like misogyny, women’s safety, and cancel culture in a more mature and nuanced way while also strengthening its ties to the MCU as a whole and developing its own, distinct tone.
Nonetheless, the future looks bright (and green) for She-Hulk.
She-Hulk episode 3 review
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