I love a show with some self-awareness. If at times Disney+’s She-Hulk veers into cheesiness with lines pulled from the hey-day of Tumblr feminism, at the very least, the show remains more grounded in the everyday annoyances of modern womanhood than any other superhero project. Jennifer Walker, the titular She-Hulk played by Tatiana Maslany, regularly breaks the fourth wall to address audience members (sometimes about annoying male colleagues), and in this week’s episode, She-Hulk took its awareness of those of us on the other side of the screen to the next level.
As Jen’s star rises in her universe, particularly when she becomes the lawyer of reformed super-villain “Abomination,” men in her fictional world react to her pretty much the same way men in the real world responded to Marvel Studios’ announcement of the show in 2019. The 2019 comments included, “Why everything in Marvel gotta be female now” and, “So we have a metoo movement and now all the male hero’s and [sic] gone?”
And in the episode that premiered Thursday, a montage of social media posts about Jen Walker (She-Hulk the person) very closely reflects those real-life sexist comments about She-Hulk (the show).
In the new episode, a Ben Shapiro-esque male vlogger gripes, “They took the Hulk’s manhood away, but then they gave it to a woman?” (For non-Marvel nerds: Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, has developed a device to shelve his Hulk-self after he was locked in Hulk form for a prolonged period of time.) The show then treats us to a hilariously accurate montage of tweets from men in Jen’s universe bitching about the existence of yet another woman super-hero. And some of these posts (under fake handles like @hardseltzersteve and @notheretomakefriends) are very familiar: “So we gotta have affirmative action with superheroes now,” “Why are you turning every superhero into a girl? No one asked for that,” “So we have a metoo movement now and all the male superheroes are gone?,” “Why everything gotta be female now??”
I simply have to laugh! Imagine being so stupidly sexist that your own words can be used to fit a caricature of male internet trolls.
Whiny tweets weren’t the only line of attack that online misogynists have used against She-Hulk. Prior to its release, the show was reportedly review-bombed on Rotten Tomatoes to a greater extent than any of its Disney+ predecessors, including Ms. Marvel, the platform’s most recent MCU show about a teenage Muslim girl. That tracks, though: The Hulk is perhaps the most traditionally masculine superhero in existence—he’s literally a giant, muscular monster with anger issues. A woman version of that, who is decisively more skilled and in control because of the ways women are socialized to control our anger, was practically made in a lab to piss off sexist men.
Despite these attacks, She-Hulk is clearly unfazed by the hate, and appears to enjoy poking fun at it. This week’s episode even starred Megan Thee Stallion, who has somehow become one of She-Hulk’s clients (it’s a long, tangential story), and a mid-credits scene features the two twerking together to Megan’s hit “Body.” It’s a deeply cheesy, deeply charming scene, especially considering Megan’s own IRL history of being harassed and targeted by misogynists online after she accused rapper Tory Lanez of shooting her in 2020. (She’s also arguably the most visible female rapper today—also a traditionally male role.) Megan and She-Hulk throwing ass without a care in the world was a delightful middle-finger to all the male haters who have tried and failed to tank their careers.
Marvel Studios isn’t exactly a gender studies course, nor is She-Hulk the peak of American cinema. But the show is cute, fun, and pleasantly relatable for tall, angry women everywhere. I’ll take it!