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‘She-Hulk’ Writes a New Kind of Classic Marvel Ending

In its extremely meta season finale, ‘She-Hulk’ steers clear of the typical pitfalls of Marvel last acts by obliterating the fourth wall

Disney Plus/Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Spoiler warning

For weeks, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law had been teasing a mystery villain, one who would face off with our new hero, Jen Walters, in what was sure to be an action-packed conclusion, as is Marvel tradition. This week’s season finale revealed the Big Bad at last, but it wasn’t the Red Hulk, nor was it the Leader or M.O.D.O.K.—all popular candidates with ties to the Intelligencia in the comics. It wasn’t Todd Phelps or the Abomination, either. (Well, not really, but we’ll get back to that.) In the end, it was Kevin Feige all along. Or should I say K.E.V.I.N., the robot known formally as Knowledge Enhanced Visual Interconnectivity Nexus. And look, K.E.V.I.N. even has a hat:

Screenshot via Disney+

In “Whose Show Is This?,” Jen goes to unprecedented lengths to answer the episode title’s question, and ultimately takes control of her own life and narrative—quite literally. Head writer Jessica Gao, who wrote the season finale, cranks the show’s fourth-wall-breaking nature up to 11 and leans into its season-long approach of anticipating—and defying—audience expectations more than ever. “I think I probably wrote like, 20 versions of a finale that went all over the place and I started feeling like, ‘Well, this is a Marvel show, I better give them the classic Marvel ending,’” Gao told “Big villain fight, big finale. But it never felt right because I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”

She-Hulk’s penultimate episode ended on a poignant and uncharacteristically serious note, as Jen went full Hulk mode at the gala after Josh’s revenge porn was broadcast for the whole audience to see, setting up some rare stakes for the finale. A classic Marvel ending felt imminent. “Whose Show Is This?” moves too quickly to spend much time exploring Jen’s emotional response to the incident, as we see her get imprisoned by the DODC, lose her job and her apartment, and move back into her parents’ house in the span of a few scenes. It’s all just a setup for Jen to return to Emil Blonsky’s retreat, where she stumbles into an Intelligencia gathering—featuring none other than the Abomination as its guest of honor—just as Nikki and Pug discover that Todd is the villainous “HulkKing” after all. Todd uses Jen’s stolen gamma-irradiated blood to turn himself into, let’s call him, “Bro-Hulk”; Titania crashes onto the scene like the Kool-Aid Man (again); and Hulk returns from space just in time for a rematch with the Abomination. As Jen says herself, it’s all “a mess.”

The delightfully corny “previously on” segment that opened the episode, inspired by the intro to Lou Ferrigno’s late ’70s/early ’80s The Incredible Hulk series, foreshadowed just how off the rails this episode was about to get, though. Moments after the mayhem ensues at Emil’s retreat, She-Hulk presses pause on her show and She-Hulk-smashes the fourth wall so hard that she escapes onto the Marvel hub of the Disney+ app itself:

Jen eventually comes face-to-face with the writers of She-Hulk, and then the mastermind behind the MCU: K.E.V.I.N. She-Hulk convinces her creators to change the ending of her story to look more like she’s envisioned it. In the tradition of She-Hulk, the sequence defies everything we’ve come to expect from MCU finales or third acts, embracing the spirit of She-Hulk comics in the process. (Though as unconventional as the approach may be, it’s also a bit on the nose at times, like when one of the writers tells Jen that “there are certain things that are supposed to happen in a superhero story,” and she replies: “Why don’t we just do things our own way?”)

Gao has often cited John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk comics run as a source of inspiration for the show and its fourth-wall-breaking moments, and that influence shines through clearer than ever in the season finale. “It felt natural … not only that she was in a show, but that she would have opinions about the show, especially since she just was completely betrayed by the makers of this show,” Gao told “It just felt right that she would go and complain to the ultimate lord of Marvel, which is K.E.V.I.N.” In Byrne’s comics, She-Hulk would often leap across panels to save herself the trouble of commuting in Los Angeles, and sometimes would even rip out the pages she was drawn onto if the situation called for it:

The Sensational She-Hulk no. 5
Marvel Comics
The Sensational She-Hulk no. 5
Marvel Comics

Jen would also sometimes speak directly to her creators when she wasn’t happy with the direction a story was going:

The Sensational She-Hulk no. 9
Marvel Comics

As She-Hulk roams around in the “real world” outside of her own TV reality in the finale, the She-Hulk writers revel in the opportunity to poke fun at Marvel Studios and wink hard at the audience. Non-disclosure agreements are signed, a Marvel receptionist and actual members of the writers’ room appear, CGI budget concerns are addressed (as a musical cue informs us, the VFX team has moved on to work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), and Jen even manages to sneak in a question on behalf of the audience about the status of the long-awaited X-Men project.

However, when Jen returns to the MCU, She-Hulk can’t forgo all MCU conventions, whether by design or not. There are several crossover appearances near the end of the episode, with Daredevil just missing out on the action, but still arriving in time for one last crowd-pleasing appearance (thanks to Jen’s request to K.E.V.I.N., of course). Wong returns for a final stinger to spring Emil from his second stint in the DODC’s supermax prison, and Hulk shows up to the family BBQ to introduce his son, Skaar:

The finale doesn’t linger too long on the Hulk development—this is his cousin’s show, after all—but it comes as a surprise nonetheless, especially after Jen cuts K.E.V.I.N. off just as he’s about to tell her about it earlier in the episode. Fans who had read Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk and World War Hulk series may have anticipated Skaar’s arrival the moment Hulk left in Episode 2 to visit Sakaar for the first time since Thor: Ragnarok, but it raises a bunch of questions about what will happen with Hulk and son in the future. (Not to mention the status or identity of the brave, alien woman who gave birth to not-so-smart Hulk’s child.) Will there be an upcoming movie that focuses on Hulk and Skaar, or perhaps on Hulk’s lost years as a gladiator on Sakaar? If She-Hulk returns for a second season, will their relationship be a major plotline? Is Hulk going to try to be a real father to his long-lost son so a new hero doesn’t grow up to have MCU daddy issues? And will Skaar get a haircut so the Young Avengers won’t roast him?

Speaking of a potential second season of She-Hulk: The future of the series remains in question, though the subject was teased several times throughout the finale, even if only in jest. The in-show She-Hulk writers were hard at work on it, after all, and K.E.V.I.N. didn’t seem too keen on She-Hulk making her big-screen debut any time soon. As has been the case with every MCU Disney+ series at the end of its first season (with the exception of Loki), there’s no official word on what will happen next. “Whose Show Is This?” puts the series in an interesting position if it does move forward, though, given that Jen now has the ability to manipulate or erase story lines as she sees fit; even for a show with low stakes, it may be a hard sell for future drama when she can play God every time a season’s story line is reaching its climax.

But perhaps, as Jen said in Byrne’s comics as she tore her way through the pages from within, “it only works if you don’t think about it.” Not everything worked across She-Hulk’s nine episodes—Titania, for one, never really panned out as a character—and not every joke landed along the way, yet the series was an entertaining and refreshing 30-minute diversion every week that served as perfect counterprogramming to the deluge of high-stakes MCU projects that are coming faster than ever. As we saw with Daredevil and Wong in particular, the “case of the week” format can successfully incorporate crossover characters in a way that simultaneously feels natural for the show, allows a character to be used in a different tone and setting, and provides a space for the MCU to lay a foundation for future projects.

In the finale, Jen embraces both sides of her new identity at last, and the stage is now set for her to be a lawyer and a superhero, without a need to worry about establishing an origin story in the shadow of her famous cousin. Despite the remark about Jen’s potential future (or lack thereof) on the big screen, there’s a strong possibility that She-Hulk will work her way into the upcoming Avengers films, and perhaps less likely, Fantastic Four, given her ties to those teams in the comics. (And who knows, with Matt Murdock and Jen getting even cozier with each other in the finale after their courthouse meet-cute last week, maybe She-Hulk will be the one flying out to Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil: Born Again.) As the Multiverse Saga comes into greater focus and the stakes grow even higher with The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars on the horizon, it would be in K.E.V.I.N.’s best interest to give She-Hulk the chance to grow from here.