She-Hulk head writer and executive producer Jessica Gao says the finale included more jokes about Marvel, which had to be cut for being too mean.
This Article contains SPOILERS for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season 1, Episode 9She-Hulk: Attorney at Law head writer Jessica Gao reveals why the finale had to cut many more jokes about Marvel. After nine episodes alternating between lighthearted legal comedy and mild meta-commentary, the She-Hulk finale was unique. Setting up a reasonably standard Marvel ending, complete with big battles and gratuitous cameos, the story takes a turn. By the end of the half-hour, Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters has essentially put the entire MCU on trial.
Fans reacted strongly to the big twist of She-Hulk, particularly charmed by the fact that Jen had a fourth-wall-shattering scene with a robot that’s an homage to Marvel boss Kevin Feige. Jen calls out the MCU for its iffy special effects, formulaic endings that prioritize spectacle over character development, and reliance on familiar tropes. The relatively stark honesty caught viewers by surprise. But Gao, also an executive producer on She-Hulk, says several more jokes didn’t make the cut for being too mean.
In an interview with TVLine, Gao revealed that were a lot more jokes at Marvel’s expense that didn’t make it into the show. Some barbs were cut for time since the Disney+ series only runs for roughly 30 minutes. But she mentions that other She-Hulk quips were left out because they were too mean. Gao doesn’t say what those jokes were. But in the exchange, which you can read below, it sounds like the jokes were a little more severe than just costuming:
In the K.E.V.I.N. scene, did you ever think to call out Marvel for more than its over-reliance on flashy final boss fights and so many heroes’ daddy issues?
Oh, there were tons more. Tons and tons more. Some of it was cut for time, some of it was cut because it was probably too mean…. [Laughs] There was a lot of material for that scene that I had to cut down. I mean, I could have written that scene for days and days and days. In the end, it was reflective of my actual conversations with [Marvel Studios chief] Kevin [Feige].
What, were there costuming digs or…?[Hearty laugh]
Ooh, I think I hit on one![Still laughing] Then I’ll just leave it at me cackling.
Why She-Hulk’s Marvel Criticisms Don’t Go Far Enough
In one sense, Marvel and Feige deserve credit for aiming at themselves and showing an awareness of their most common critiques. But there’s a much broader conversation about the MCU and its effect on pop culture and audiences that the She-Hulk finale entirely avoids. The MCU has become so dominant and ubiquitous that it’s hard for smaller shows and different genres to find room and get attention in comparison. Marvel is not only in this, of course. Franchises and big blockbusters are increasingly the way of Hollywood in both film and television.
Marvel is, far and wide, the most successful example, though. She-Hulk‘s finale says nothing of the MCU’s all-encompassing cultural footprint, its negative impact in some areas, and the way it functions as a one-stop shop for entertainment to the detriment of worthy, underseen stories. While it goes for some relatively sharp barbs, it doesn’t touch on why even some fans take issue with Marvel. But away from the debate of how mean the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finale is or isn’t, there’s the question of what Marvel does now that it has openly acknowledged its faults: will it strive for more daring and challenging projects, or will it still lean hard on the same tropes that Jen called out?