Features and Columns · TV

‘She-Hulk’ Continues to Tease Some Major MCU Shake-Ups

This show is the best there is at what it does, bub.
She Hulk Episode Superhuman Law
Marvel Studios
By  · Published on August 25th, 2022

Marvel Explained is our ongoing series, where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry explores She-Hulk Episode 2 and considers how the show teases and confirms some major MCU shake-ups. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.

The premiere established the characters and the vibe, but SheHulk doesn’t become SheHulk until episode two – “Lawyer Show!” After last week’s courtroom bust-up, Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) finds herself without a job. However, she doesn’t have to cry in her beer for too long. Her former opposing counsel Holden Holliway (Steve Coulter), offers her a spot at his law firm GLK & H, running their Superhuman Law division. It’s not only the gig of a lifetime; it’s the only gig a Hulk can get.

Jen quickly realizes the position doesn’t come free of annoyance. Holliway didn’t actually hire Jennifer; he hired She-Hulk and wants her in “uniform” whenever she’s on call. Not only that, Holliway wants Jen to oversee the parole hearing of Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), the Abomination who wrecked Harlem in The Incredible Hulk and nearly killed her cousin Bruce when Edward Norton once played him. That being the case, the Hulk, now played by Mark Ruffalo, doesn’t seem to mind; he’s a totally different person now – “Ha.”

With the newly meditative and forgiving Smart Hulk’s blessing, Jen takes on Blonsky’s case, and a sweeping range of sitcom hijinks ensue. SheHulk is a smart, irreverent throwback made all the more delicious by its placement within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the first time, we’re witnessing a proper comic book reality in operation, where metahumans interacting with our mundane world is more absurd than badass. And yet, the SheHulk show still manages to tease, promise, and solidify previous MCU megaevents through its winking subversiveness.

World War Hulk

Jennifer Walters cannot have a normal conversation with her cousin. She may be kicked back on her couch, but he’s locked inside the Sakaaran spaceship that drove the two of them off the road during the premiere’s opener. While Jen was bobbing and weaving her way back into a not-so-normal civilian life, Smart Hulk apparently connected with the alien nation who once claimed him as their champion.

We have no idea what the Sakaarans could want with Hulk, especially a Smart Hulk that no longer rages. All that good plotty-plot-plot stuff is still some time away, but this tiny moment in SheHulk Episode 2 has folks frothing. We’re ready for the old Hulk to return. We want the monster back, and the Sakaarans could unleash the beast.

World War Hulk is a famous Hulk storyline from the comics. It spins directly out of the Planet Hulk storyline that loosely served as Thor: Ragnarok‘s narrative backbone. Although, many of the elements that explain the comic book World War Hulk are missing in the current cinematic iteration.

In the books, Hulk goes on a smashing frenzy across Earth, looking for revenge against the superheroes who shot him into space, trapping him on Planet Hulk, aka Sakaar. In collaboration with Tony Stark, Black Bolt, and Doctor Strange, Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four rocketed Bruce Banner into the infinite cosmos because they could no longer trust his angry persona. They never considered that the brute would somehow make his way back to their fragile celestial body.

Many hope that whatever happens with Sakaar in SheHulk Episode 2 will translate into the Smart Hulk’s devolution. The next time we see the jolly green giant, he could be roided-out with the big guy’s hand back on the wheel. Reed Richards may not be his target, but he could still have a lot of pent-up rage toward those that allowed Natasha Romanoff to perish.

What About Wolverine, Though?

She Hulk Wolverine
Marvel Studios

As exciting as those Hulk possibilities are, they might not be exciting as a tiny throwaway moment in SheHulk Episode 2. Shortly after Jennifer loses her job at the DA’s office, she and her pal Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) are wallowing on the couch. Yeah, this couch is a critical MCU fixture at this point. Jen’s scrolling her worries away online, looking for “10 Offbeat Jobs for a Fresh Start.”

It’s all very pathetic and adorable, but those with eagle eyes in the audience put their peepers on the page’s sidebar. Underneath the Iron Man sneakers advert, we see the headline, “Man fights with metal claws in bar brawl.” Well, there’s no doubting who that man is, right? It’s our boy Logan, the X-Men’s Wolverine.

Unless it’s not. Marvel loves its cute little easter eggs that go nowhere. The first time we spotted the Infinity Gauntlet was in the far corners of Odin’s treasure room in the first Thor flick. The sight gag was waved away as a fake two sequels later. It amounted to nothing. The same could very well be said for this headline.

Mostly, this headline achieves the overall sense that superhuman beings are painfully normal these days in the MCU. A clawed mutant’s appearance in the bar may have served as the X-Men’s big coming out party in the year 2000, but twenty-two years later, it ain’t no big thing.

Eternals Ending Explained, for Real

The headline below the wannabe Wolverine one reads, “Why there is a giant statue of a man sticking out of the ocean.” It seems like the people of the 616 universe need Eternals ending explainers as much as we do. And, once again, it speaks to the normalization of superhero insanity that’s going on in the MCU.

Ever since Eternals came out, the MCU audience has wondered why no one in-universe has brought up the sudden appearance in the Indian Ocean of a giant Celestial frozen mid-birth (or re-birth). It appears the event was too apocalyptic for tiny human minds to comprehend. Considering how we’re all walking around on our planet as if a global pandemic wasn’t still in effect, you can’t really blame the MCU populace for going about their business, either.

As such, the SheHulk series feels like the most honest take on superheroes. If they did indeed roam the planet, we’d take a few months to freak out, but before long, they’d hold as much interest as any other bit of clickbait. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s a Celestial sticking out of the Earth, but I’ve got House of the Dragon to watch later. Change the channel, please.

She-Hulk Episode 2 is now streaming on Disney+

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)