Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Episode 8 of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.We’ve followed Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) for several weeks now, and we’ve gained a pretty good insight into the kind of person she is: her moral leanings, self-deprecating humor, legal know-how, and inherently decent worldview. In the penultimate episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, “Ribbit and Rip It,” Jen is tested after a cyberattack orchestrated by Intelligencia discloses personal and professional details that could cost Jen her livelihood. It was a hugely enjoyable episode with the re-introduction of Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) as the MCU’s dishiest vigilante. Jen embraces the action-heavy aspect of her superhero identity, getting the recognition she deserves, and a baddie who is an inept, albeit scene-stealing, supervillain. Unfortunately, it all ends in rage-filled tears.
Jen and Matt start out at loggerheads with her losing a case, a consequence of her client Leap Frog/Eugene Patilio (Brandon Stanley) failing to read the small print. Later, the two lawyers hook up in a bar and over an apple martini, exchanging polite and somewhat flirty small talk until he’s called away. Later, She-Hulk responds to a distress call from Leap-Frog who is being pursued by a masked man. She follows, wearing her Luke Jacobson (Griffin Matthews) outfit, and indulges in a scuffle with Daredevil (foreplay for the superpowered)? Daredevil informs her that Leap-Frog is the episode’s villain and a brief alliance is formed between them. Jacobson has been abducted by Leap-Frog — who is demanding a new costume. Jacobson reinstates Jen as a client, and Matt and Jen have a fun little fling.
Throughout the show, Jennifer has consistently taken the high road when forced to contend with BS from family, friends, catty influencers, and a somewhat embarrassing copyright case. It was a joy during the latest installment to witness Jen let her superpowered freak flag fly, hook up with a great guy, and be the recipient of the “Female Lawyer of the Year” award at a fancy gala — only for misogyny (and an underground organization) to rear its ugly head and weaponize the particulars of Jen’s private life and embellish the facts of her professional conduct to belittle and humiliate her. She’s dressed in haute couture, and mid-speech, an intimate video of her is broadcast to friends, family, and colleagues. It is an invasive, criminal, and infuriating breach of her human rights — and she is pissed, justifiably so.
Understandably, She-Hulk flies into a rage she can barely control, with gala attendees fleeing in terror. She spots a man who looks suspicious and pursues him, smashing through a wall and plucking him from a crowd to dangle him in the air. If it wasn’t for the intervention of an armed response unit, she might have torn him limb from limb. Normally a calm and level-headed individual, Jen manages to pull herself back from the brink at the last second. Killing a possibly innocent man in public would have had serious ramifications for her going forward — maybe earning her a place on The Raft? One theory is that Intelligencia’s goal was to provoke She-Hulk into a criminal act by “shaming” her for her own normal behavior. Her anger is perfectly justified; to make a recording of an intimate act between two adults without both consenting constitutes sexual assault.
This is not the first time male characters in Marvel properties have derived joy from destroying women. She-Hulk’s current predicament echoes Kilgrave’s (David Tennant) mistreatment of another Daredevil ally, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), and Trish Walker’s (Rachael Taylor) transformation into Hellcat was driven by a fury to combat violent misogyny. Both Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) were brutally indoctrinated in the Red Room in Black Widow, and Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) endured similar conditioning in an earlier incarnation of the organization in Agent Carter. A disturbing off-world example is how Thanos systematically brutalized Nebula (Karen Gillan) from childhood — and let’s not get started on Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) dalliance with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). So yes, Jen is as angry as all of the above women, and we’re okay with that.
Except for the marvelous 2022 entry Ms. Marvel, female-led shows in the MCU have come up against cruel patriarchal individuals and systems. Unfortunately, this is an infuriating and inevitable part of moving through the material world. In She-Hulk, Intelligencia attained information by illegal means, and for an advanced organization to publicly troll Jen doesn’t make a lick of sense — except when you consider the possibility that they wanted She-Hulk to lose control and cause as many casualties and damage as possible. Jen getting angry and kicking butt is what we all wanted to see, but Intelligencia needed a violent reaction. She was playing right into their hands, at least for a few seconds, until she collects herself and calms down.
Jen won’t stay down for long, now that she has a friend and sometimes-lover in Daredevil. She will get her bearings, find out who is responsible, and approach it pragmatically. She could stay angry and dwell on the hurt they’ve caused her, but she’s the much bigger woman and won’t let the bastards grind her down. And if a Red Hulk (or Red She-Hulk) does show up, Jen will deal with that too. Meanwhile, we’re counting the days to the finale…
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres its season finale this Thursday on Disney+.