I have more than reached the point of “Urgh, not another Marvel TV show”, if I’m being honest. And frankly, Hulk is probably my least-favourite character, smart version or otherwise. But, seeing this was only a half-hour show, I figured I’d give it an episode.
And… it’s fun. Ooh – there’s what’s been missing through 90% of recent MCU output!
Episode one basically takes us back to how Jennifer Walters becomes a Hulk, and it’s just funny and I was so surprised to like it – rather a lot. It helps immensely that she has almost none of the downsides: as a woman she is so used to tamping down her anger that’s not really a problem, we’re told. And she can change at will. She is pretty much the ideal: as human as she wants to be, but now able to defend herself and not have to put up with half the shit women just do on a daily basis. Green feminist glory, who knew?!
My favourite scene in the whole show is when Jen is attacked on her way home one night – a real-life fear for most women – and just the sheer triumphant power of the moment where she goes, “Oh yeah. Right.” and kicks ass 🙂
For something that I was originally dismissing as fluff, there’s rather a lot to unpack here. True to the comics, Jen breaks the fourth wall constantly. The final episode takes it all one step further, even, and love or loathe there’s something at the very least interesting if not downright impressive about the level of self-awareness. Jen picks holes in not just the superhero show ‘norms’, but a direct swipe at the MCU – rather brave for a Marvel show!
I also thought this was very un-Marvel-ly – in a good way – especially in the comedic, light tone. But then it also ties in so much with the rest of the output. We have (not just) cameos from the likes of Hulk (duh), the Abomination (Tim Roth), Wong (Benedict Wong), Daredevil (Charlie Cox), and of course, Megan Thee-Stallion for the infamous twerking scene (!). My recent re-watch of Shang-Chi put a plotline here into full context. There’s a nice nod to the Hulk TV series of the 70s. And then there are some excellent backhanders to the toxic fandom… Your views may differ on whether this is all clever tie-ins, or shameless, but it’s never less than fun.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t say there’s much in the way of depth here, and in fairness the ‘twist’ of the finale makes some of it… less than tied up? Various elements don’t seem to have enough attention paid, and same for Jameela Jamil’s baddy – it just doesn’t go anywhere, despite set-ups suggesting otherwise. Jen has some words about it all, but frankly it doesn’t make for a cohesive whole in terms of storytelling.
But then, that doesn’t seem to be the point. What is? Well, I can possibly suggest it’s the whole tone, a moment of the MCU just having a bit of a giggle. And while that doesn’t seem to have appealed to everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed a bit of light-hearted daftness.
First broadcast: August 2022
Episodes: 9 @ ~30 mins each
My rating: 7/10