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‘She-Hulk’ Is A Direct, Unapologetic Attack On Toxic Marvel Fanboys

She-Hulk

Netflix

While She-Hulk was always destined to be a meta show, with its fourth-wall breaking and self-referential Marvel jokes, it’s gone somewhere I wasn’t quite expecting.

She-Hulk was apparently conceived correctly predicting its own backlash by a familiar group of toxic fanboys who exist in the comic book movie/show space. While the show has had explicitly pro-feminist messaging from the first episode as Jen juggles the double standards for female superheroes, in episode 3, She-Hulk just goes directly at these kinds of toxic fans with an entire montage focused on a bunch of dudes saying she’s too derivative of an emasculated Hulk or debating whether or not she was bangable.

This is paired with She-Hulk being a show starring a woman, written and directed by women, that is doing essentially just…whatever it wants in the MCU. Marvel has clearly given them free reign to be both as honest as they want to be, dealing explicitly with misogyny in both society and these specific fanboy clusters directly, but also to just be goofy as well. Episode 3 culminated in a post-credits scene in which She-Hulk twerks with episode guest star Megan Thee Stallion, which was apparently inserted mainly because Tatiana Maslany is such a huge fan. And of course, the fanboys She-Hulk was just mocking ten minutes earlier are the ones spreading that clip around now going “WTF IS MARVEL DOING??”

She-Hulk is a trap, and they’re all falling for it.

She-Hulk

Disney

At some point, the women involved in universes like the MCU were going to get the greenlight to push back. Previously, this mainly happened off-camera, where actresses like Brie Larson, who plays Captain Marvel, had fanboys declare war on her after comments she made about how too many movie critics were white men, and she wanted more women and people of color in her own junkets. That sparked a (very stupid) firestorm that caused Captain Marvel to be review bombed so hard that Rotten Tomatoes had to change its policies about user-submitted scores.

But here in 2022, Marvel seems more open to letting a show like She-Hulk just…openly mock these same fanboys. And it’s kind of hilarious to watch. You can see She-Hulk just setting up these bowling pins every week and knocking them down when the inevitable reactions about “man-hating” start rolling in.

A collection of thumbnails

Ryan Kinel

It is a gamble, somewhat. While the show being explicitly pro-feminist and anti-troll is certainly “correct” and can be funny, it can also feel like it overwhelms the actual narrative sometimes. You can agree with the sentiment of something and still feel like maybe they’re hammering the point home a bit unsubtly to the point where it detracts from the whole. In some ways the situation reminds me of Netflix’s Don’t Look Up, a comedy centered on the ignored dangers of climate change, but also…was just not a very good movie at its core. She-Hulk may run that same risk here.

Fortunately for She-Hulk, it has Tatiana Maslany as its star, who really can do no wrong, and she’s what’s holding this entire thing together, as only she can. We have six more episodes to go and I can almost see the coming YouTuber thumbnails about how “Daredevil is now a PUNCHLINE!” or something like that. It’s inevitable, but I do hope She-Hulk can move beyond its haters eventually, and become something fully compelling by the end even if it shreds the traditional Marvel formula, which at this point, is something of a welcome relief.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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