When The Digital Fix attended a roundtable session with Jessica Gao, the showrunner of She-Hulk, she said that one of her favourite things about the comedy series was that it allowed her to “play freely in the Marvel sandbox.”
“It’s always about, you know, about the fate of humanity and all that kind of stuff,” she said. “But to me, the funniest thing in the world is seeing an Avenger who just had to save the universe on a regular weeknight.” By episode 4 of She-Hulk, it’s clear that the Marvel series has found its groove. It manages to find the funny side of relatable situations like Tinder disasters and navigating TV series spoilers while, in the process, adding new dimensions to the MCU characters and universe we know and love.
Episode 4 of She-Hulk brings back Wong (or ‘Wongers,’ as we’ll soon come to know him), as he begs Jennifer to use her legal expertise to stop former Kamar-Taj student Donny Blaze from recklessly using the Sling Ring for gimmicky, dangerous magic shows.
This self-contained A-plot is a great example of She-Hulk’s potential as a returnable-format, multi-season legal show. Think Suits, but funnier, and sprinkled in with some of those much-loved Marvel Easter eggs and cameos.
In terms of Easter eggs, keen Marvel fans will know that Donny Blaze is phonetically similar Johnny Blaze — or, as he’s more commonly known, Ghost Rider. If we want to think optimistically, this might be an indication that Feige plans on bringing Ghost Rider (and possibly Nic Cage?) into the MCU at a later date.
And let’s not forget that in the comics, Johnny has a secret half-brother called Danny, which, again, isn’t far off from Donny. Or, if we want to think realistically and take off our tin-foil hat, it’s a fun way of blending true-to-comics Marvel lore with standalone, lighthearted plots that are ultimately inconsequential to the overall MCU.
Rhys Coiro is hilarious as the schmoozy fraud, but the real scene-stealer of episode 4 was Madisynn, played by Patty Guggenheim. Her role as the clueless, constantly-a-bit-pissed sorority girl who got unwittingly mixed up with the Mystic Arts thanks to Blaze because, as well as pumping out one-liner after one-liner, her perpetual unseriousness made her the perfect foil to Wong, whom she was paired with for most of the episode unwittingly ending up in his living room while he tried to watch the Sopranos.
As Gao said, we always see these superheroes in high-stakes situations, so getting to see Wong freak out over Sopranos spoilers like the rest of us made for entertaining watching. Also, the nickname of ‘Wongers’ is completely iconic. The only problem with Madisynn is that the trope of the constantly-drunk “woo girl” who flails around all episode feels slightly antithetical to She-Hulk’s feminist overtones, but why shouldn’t girls have a good time and sacrifice some goats?
Speaking of feminism, She-Hulk continues to shine a light on the subtle-but-no-less-harmful microaggressions that come from being a woman in the episode’s B-plot, which focuses on Jen trying her hand at online dating.
While the implementation of modern dating in the TV shows and rom-coms usually comes off a little bit cringe, She-Hulk once again sets itself apart by not only showing the way women who don’t meet traditional beauty standards are fetishised but also showcasing women’s biggest nemesis in the dating scene: softbois.
For those uninitiated, ‘softbois‘ are the kind of men who try to seem sensitive and intelligent — they listen, are highly empathetic, and often bring books to their dates to try and ‘wokefish‘ you— when in actuality, they don’t actually care about women’s issues, or philosophy, or politics: it’s all just a facade to get you into bed.
Honestly, these kinds of men are painfully recognisable, and are a bigger threat to the universe than Thanos — and I have no doubt the women watching She-Hulk especially will have fun with this B-plot.
It’s hard to give this episode more than four stars because, as good as the writing is, it still comes off as a little cringey and desperate to please sometimes with its fourth-wall-breaks. And no, the CGI still hasn’t improved. However, for the first time since watching She-Hulk, I’m actually looking forward to the next episode, which will delve more into Jameela Jamil’s character Titania.
The first four episodes of She-Hulk are available to watch on the streaming service Disney Plus.
Strongest episode so far — but no, the CGI hasn’t improved.