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Should ‘She-Hulk’ Cut Back on Its Cameos?

‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ keeps the cameos coming in Episode 3. But how many Marvel crossovers is too many?

Disney Plus/Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Spoiler warning

In the opening minutes of the third episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Jennifer Walters takes a moment as she drives to work to address the rising number of cameo appearances in the series. In her character’s fourth-wall-breaking tradition, she turns to the camera—dropping both of her hands off of the steering wheel—to speak directly to the audience. “I know you can’t wait to see Wong, I get it,” Jen tells us. “I just wanna make sure that you don’t think this is one of those cameo-every-week type of shows. It’s not. Well, except Bruce. And Blonsky. And Wong. Just remember whose show this actually is.”

While the line is, of course, meant to elicit a few laughs, it also serves as the superhero lawyer’s defense of a glaring trend in the series, and a declaration that above all else, this show belongs to She-Hulk. Through the first third of the season, She-Hulk has already featured an Avenger and a supervillain from the MCU’s past, plus the Sorcerer Supreme—and Daredevil has yet to make his promised appearance. That’s not counting this week’s surprise guest star, Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who plays herself in her MCU debut (thanks to a shapeshifting Light Elf from New Asgard who takes catfishing to a whole new level). As “The People vs. Emil Blonsky” demonstrates, the high volume of cameos can be used to great comedic effect and also suit the show’s larger purpose of introducing the MCU’s new superhero/lawyer. The biggest question is whether there’s still enough room for Walters’s story to develop without the latter objective becoming an afterthought.

Although almost every MCU TV show has had its fair share of cameos (with the exception of Moon Knight), She-Hulk is setting a record pace for including familiar faces from previous Marvel affairs. That may seem like a deliberate ploy to rope in viewers who might not otherwise want to watch a lesser-known title character, but in many ways, the pattern feels true to She-Hulk’s history in the comics. In John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk run from the late 1980s and early 1990s, which head writer Jessica Gao refers to as “essential She-Hulk,” the third issue also happens to feature a prominent guest star—and She-Hulk personally let the readers know on the comic book’s cover.

Marvel Comics

From heavy hitters like Spider-Man to more obscure allies like Howard the Duck (and all the C-list villains in between), Sensational She-Hulk lured its readers into its world by unapologetically promoting its guest appearances, while simultaneously poking fun at Marvel’s tried-and-true tropes and sales strategies. (These comics also notoriously tried to attract readers by deploying rather sexist and objectifying covers, though it’s safe to say the Disney+ series won’t employ similar tactics. Attorney at Law is not only “sex-positive,” in Gao’s words, but also “horny-forward.”)

In the 2000s, Dan Slott’s She-Hulk runs focused more on Walters’s dual responsibilities as a lawyer and a superhero, providing the blueprint for Marvel Studios to develop its first legal comedy with Attorney at Law. Slott’s stories often used the courtroom setting and the series’ self-referential nature as a means of relitigating the characters and comics of the past, as when Eros—an Eternal and former Avenger whose powers can cause others to become infatuated with him or someone else of his choosing—was put on trial for sexual assault. The series also afforded seamless opportunities to tie in the legal world of She-Hulk with the major crossover stories taking place in the greater Marvel Universe at any given time, including when a group of young superheroes and reality TV stars needed some legal aid after causing the incident that led to Marvel’s Civil War.

With the cameo-centric approach of the Disney+ series, Gao and the rest of the creative team behind She-Hulk are adapting the character’s long-standing comics traditions to the small screen and to the decade-plus history of the MCU. And they’re well aware of the concerns that may raise. “As we were going through post and looking at the episodes, it really felt like there were a lot of cameos,” Gao recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “But this was always a cameo-heavy show by nature, just because the half-hour legal comedy format allowed us to pull in a lot of people for a case of the week or a singular lawsuit that gets resolved in one episode. So there was always the danger of feeling like it’s a cameo-of-the-week show, and in the grand tradition of She-Hulk, when she notices something, she’ll point it out to the audience.”

Too much of She-Hulk’s first season remains to render a final verdict on how the series will balance its guests and its leading star—but the results have been mixed to this point. The Hulk-heavy first episode favored Jen’s better-known cousin, relegating what felt like the real (and possibly intended) premiere to last week’s installment. In “The People vs. Emil Blonsky,” the series starts to hit its stride, as Walters takes on her first superhuman case while beginning to grapple with her dual identities in earnest. The third episode calls for a reevaluation of a story line from an MCU movie from 2008 (The Incredible Hulk), showcases the underutilized comedic side of Wong, introduces a decades-old team of supervillains in the Wrecking Crew, and teases Jen’s journey to come when she transforms into She-Hulk of her own accord for the first time in its closing moments—all while leaving enough time for the super lawyer to twerk alongside her newest client, Megan Thee Stallion.

That’s a lot to fit into a 30-minute window, and the low-stakes nature of the series will have to give way to a more defined conflict for Jen before the season reaches its nine-episode limit; longtime nemesis Titania’s larger role in She-Hulk, for one, has been a bit of a mystery, and it apparently won’t be revealed until the end of next week’s chapter. If She-Hulk follows Loki in earning a second season, though, enough of this introductory phase for the character could be completed for the series to more easily navigate its unique narrative space, which has the potential to expand the MCU and its ever-growing roster of heroes and villains as Marvel Studios progresses into its next phases. With superhero content coming more rapidly than ever, a light-hearted comedy series like this—one that has the ability to make fun of itself as much as the universe it dwells within—could serve as a welcome reprieve from Marvel’s world-ending scenarios of the month. Over the next six episodes, She-Hulk will need to continue to build its case for the right to such a future.