Warning: This summary contains spoilers for She Hulk.
Jennifer Walters (orphan black‘s Tatiana Maslany), the lawyer-turned-Hulk at the center She-Hulk: LawyerShe just wants to do her job; She knows exactly what she is capable of and makes the right preparation for each case. But in the first episode of She Hulkshe — and the creatives behind them — also give plenty of room for Jen Walters’ She-Hulk origin story, which is filled with self-deprecating humor and commentary on the reality many women face in the real world.
In a fourth-wall-breaking storytelling device popularized by fleasack (and is an integral part of the Dan Slott She Hulk Lauf, who inspired the show), Jen concedes that “you can’t focus on this funny lawyer show until you know everything about it.” The specifics of the case Jen is on are irrelevant. Paralegal Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga) already knows about Jen’s alter ego, who jokes that Jen should bring out the Hulk for her final statement.
Most of A Normal Amount of Rage recalls a road trip Jen took with her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) a few months ago. The show does a good job of setting up Bruce and Jen as cousins who have long ripped slightly with breezy dialogue, and the chemistry between Maslany and Ruffalo does much of the legwork to build a family dynamic that we’re in the middle of only learn about in the MCU. (Comic book fans will have known of her kinship for a long time.) Additionally, Jen has many thoughts on the long-standing Marvel fandom debate over whether Steve Rogers was a virgin. (More on that later.)
A spaceship appearing in front of them causes Jen’s car to drive over a railing – Bruce later identifies the ship as a Sakaaran Class 8 Courier Ship (which appeared earlier). Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War) and adds that “they’re probably trying to deliver a message” — and Bruce’s blood ends up ending up in a cut on Jen’s arm. The transformation is instantaneous, although Jen doesn’t remember much of that first time. The second time, after a group of women has helped Jen look presentable after she stumbles into a bar shoeless, is in response to a group of men refusing, Jen’s desire not to speak to them, or even ignoring her insistence that she has a boyfriend.
And now we’ve met the proverbial elephant She HulkCourtroom: The visual effects. Fans have scrutinized the quality She Hulk‘s design and the quality of the character’s VFX since the first trailer and in the months since, several horror stories have surfaced about the horrendous working conditions in which major studios – particularly Marvel – put visual effects artists to work. Times have improved since that first trailer, but the design of She Hulk borders a bit into the uncanny valley, with Maslany (she’s taller, a little more muscular, has longer and straighter hair, and she’s green) making mostly minor changes compared to the well-matched (and very different) look of the Hulk.
Lucky for She Hulkit has a not-so-secret weapon in Maslany, who spent five years creating magic under a plethora of wigs and accents orphan black, so Jen’s humanity pops out even when Jens is in full Hulk mode, which makes some of the effects feel a bit better. And by that I mean going green, because as we’ll soon find out there aren’t huge personality differences between Jen and She-Hulk, while Bruce spent years trying to keep his humanity whenever he turned into the Hulk.
Bruce is doing what he can to guide Jen into her new life by taking her to his hideout/underground lab in Mexico that Tony Stark has lent him, but Jen quickly shows that it will be a very different orientation to Bruce’s . (Step 1: Remember the importance of spandex.) Jen’s blood is different enough to fully heal Bruce’s damaged hand Avengers: Endgame. She finds certain concepts much easier to grasp and takes a lot of time to push Bruce’s buttons, asking if he’s quoting a comic book or pointing out hard truths; The humor and quips do a lot of the work, and while it works, time will tell if it gets scratchy. She’s even better at controlling her emotions because, as she argued, that’s basically what she has to do on a daily basis when she’s a woman in the world.
“When I get phone calls on the street when incompetent men explain my own subject to me,” Jen explained. “I do this almost every day because if I don’t, I’ll be labeled emotional or difficult, or I could just get literally murdered. So I’m an expert at controlling my anger because I do it infinitely more than you do. So this all feels like a lot of shit is being projected onto me.”
What Jen doesn’t care about is the superhero aspect of being a Hulk. She’d rather go home and use her law degree (which she still pays for) to help people than follow the path of superheroes, while Bruce points out that she doesn’t exactly have a choice on the matter. He tries to get her to see things differently, leading to a fight between Hulk and She-Hulk that works better as an emotional front than a visual one, but he eventually lets her go. But Bruce is right: Just as Jen begins her closing argument, Titania (Jameela Jamil) She Hulk‘s influencer villain, bursts into the courtroom and tricks Jen into getting She-Hulk out and quickly dealing with Titania before attempting to get back to work.
What message is someone trying to convey to Bruce? Why did Titania barge into Jen’s courtroom? And how is the world reacting to She-Hulk? She Hulk saves these for future weeks, but the mid-credits stinger posits an entirely different theory: Steve Rogers’ virginity status.
Fans have been discussing this for a long time, and this Captain: The First Avenger Screenwriters said last year that Steve Rogers definitely had sex. Early in the episode, Jen is on Team Virgin as she explains to a confused Bruce that between the war and all his Avengers shenanigans, Steve never had the time to have sex. But later, when they both get silly drunk — Hulks have very high alcohol tolerances — and Jen drunkenly weeps about the fact that Steve Rogers and “that ass didn’t deserve to die a virgin,” Bruce throws her a bone: Steve was it’s not a virgin because “he lost his virginity to a girl on the USO tour in 1943”.
Chris Evans took it all in with amusement.
Jen, who revealed her crying was just drama, is happy with the answer. But could there still be Steve Rogers Virgin Truthers out there? You never know.
*Initial Release: Aug 18, 2022 3:12pm CDT
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and television/film critic at the Daily Dot. Covering entertainment, geek culture and pop culture, she has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She lives in Brooklyn.
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/she-hulk-episode-1-recap/ ‘She-Hulk’ takes on the origin story of Jen Walters with meta-humor