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Welcome, World Travelers! Let’s Talk About THAT Moment From She-Hulk 

Welcome, World Travelers! Let’s Talk About THAT Moment From She-Hulk

by James Coulter

I love She-Hulk. Out of all the Marvel series announced for Disney Plus, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was the one I was most excited to watch. Even two episodes in, it’s quickly become one of my top three favorite Marvel shows of all time. (Wandavisionand Hawkeye would be my top two favorites!)

And what’s not to like about it? The titular character is a mean green diva who’s super strong, super smart, super sassy, and—yes!—even super sexy! Sure, plenty of people have complained about the “poor” CGI, but, honestly, it’s pretty decent. (Like, have you seen the I Am Groot shorts?)

What I love most about the show is how fundamentally different it is from the typical Marvel formula. We truly haven’t had a Marvel show this unique since WandavisionShe-Hulk, true to her comic book origins, leans more into the comedy than action, with plenty of witty Deadpool-style fourth wall breaks and witty banter. She’s essentially a green Ally McBeal—which, personally, is what a good She-Hulk should be!

But while I love She-Hulk, I admit the show isn’t perfect and has its fair share of flaws. One particular flaw is exemplified in one particularly divisive moment from the first episode which spawned a meme-able quote that has been meme-ed, shared, and tweeted all over social media and which has stirred up quite the controversy. You all know the moment I’m talking about. Solet’s talk about it.

In the first episode, Jennifer Walters gets her She-Hulk superpowers after surviving a car crash with her cousin, Bruce Banner (a.k.a. the Hulk). Bruce takes her to his private hideout in Mexico to train her to use her new powers properly and control her Hulk form.

To his surprise, Jennifer proves to easily handle her rage and can easily control her powers. When he asks her how she can so effortlessly control her anger and the powers behind them, she replies with the quote that has since circulated the internet:

“Well, here’s the thing, Bruce: I’m great at controlling my anger. I do it all the time. When I’m catcalled in the street, when incompetent men explain my own area of expertise to me. I do it pretty much every day, because if I don’t, I’ll get called ’emotional’ or ‘difficult,’ or might just literally get murdered. So, I’m an expert at controlling my anger because I do it infinitely more than you!”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/YesSheCanWin

As can be expected, this quote has created quite the culture war controversy online. On one side, feminists have applauded this moment as showcasing a perspective that few people, including men, rarely consider, thus helping bring to light issues that women often face. And on the other side, basement-dwelling dweebs have decried this moment as yet another aspect of Disney/Marvel’s insidious “woke” agenda within the “M-She-U.”

For the record, as a man, I will check my male privilege and admit this quote is correct. Even while women have the same legal rights as men, they still face many sexist microaggressions from catcalling to “mansplaining” that make it harder for them to exist in a male-dominated society. Moreover, women do tend to be more emotionally mature than men, as they are socially conditioned to be more socially intelligent while men often struggle to properly handle their emotions. So, it does make sense for Jennifer to have better control of her rage than Bruce.

However, while this quote works as a #feminist #girlboss meme that accurately (if not ham-fisted), offers insight on real issues facing real women, narratively speaking, it does not work. For several reasons:

First, Jennifer is conveying this information to Bruce. She is telling him that she has a better grasp on her anger than him. While it is true she, as a woman, faces many issues that he, as a man, does not, those issues do not include being hunted down as The Hulk, fighting against extraterrestrial threats as an Avenger, being stranded on an alien planet for many years, enduring the tragic death of a loved one, and nearly dying using the full power of the Infinity Stones. Jennifer may face stress as a female lawyer, but that stress does not remotely compare to the struggles Bruce has faced as the Hulk.

Second, what she says isn’t even true. Jennifer doesn’t have a better grasp on maintaining her anger. Earlier in the episode, she Hulks out after being accosted and catcalled by several bar patrons. So her insistence that she has a better handle on her emotions due to having been catcalled her whole life rings hollow after a previous scene shows her getting angry over being catcalled.

Third, through this series, we never really get to see her deal with any of the problems she describes. Her quote essentially breaks the cardinal rule of good writing by telling rather than showing. Jennifer tells us that she faces sexist micro-aggressions, yet the show never shows us those problems she routinely faces as a woman. True, these are problems women often face, so she’s not wrong, but her words would ring stronger if we saw them for ourselves rather than blindly trusted her.

YouTube personality, The Critical Drinker, touched upon this in his video, “She-Hulk – A Lesson In Terrible Writing.” In it, he states:

“It is actually possible to make Jen’s rant function in context, but the problem with this episode is twofold: one, it doesn’t actually show us any of the things that she’s complaining about, and, two, it fails to establish Jen as a sympathetic, likable character that we care about. The writers wanted a bi, emotional payoff for this scene, but they were either unable or unwilling to give us the setup that it needs to work.”

In his video, Critical Drinker mentions the opening scene where Jennifer rehearses her closing statements for a court case. She is immediately praised for her good work, and though she is harangued by a male co-worker, his remarks are quickly dismissed and he is promptly ushered out of the office by her friends.

Overall, the scene shows Jennifer has a pretty successful career without too many hiccups. Thus, it undermines her overall point about being undermined as a woman. As the Critical Drinker explains in his video, the scene could have been written better:

“This is a real wasted opportunity to develop sympathy towards the character. Imagine this same scene where Jen recites her big elaborate closing argument, only for her more senior male partner to overrule her and flatly state that he’s the one who’s going to be delivering it.

He might be superficially polite and consoling, maybe even given her half-hearted platitudes like she’s just not ready for this yet, but there’s a more threat in an undertone to his voice so that we know exactly what he’s doing and why we get to see her excitement and enthusiasm turn into rushing disappointment as she realizes she’s been held back from yet another opportunity.

Now imagine how much more sympathy you’d feel towards her as a character. I mean, nobody likes to see good people getting crushed and sidelined, and instinctively you’d want to see her succeed. Now imagine how much more impact her rant later in the episode would have if we actually saw the negative impact of what she describes.

But, no. The writers were so desperate to have their first girl boss moment right off the bat that they had to make this a quick and easy victory for Jennifer. The scene feels more like them projecting their own personal gripes, frustrations, and hang-ups, followed by the fantasy resolution they wish they could have had themselves rather than a logical component of a bigger narrative. It was more important for them to score a quick ego-stroking win rather than take the smarter option that would deliver bigger and more satisfying payoffs later.”

She-Hulk is a great show with great comedy and action. And it has the potential of addressing many pertinent social issues. However, its delivery of that social commentary could be better handled and more cleverly written. Overall, She-Hulk, while a good show, can be better.

What are your thoughts on She-Hulk? Do you love it? Or do you not? And what do you think of this scene? Does it work? Or does it not? Leave your comments on Facebook.

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