Warning: Spoilers for She-Hulk episode 9 ahead – turn back now if you have not seen the latest episode of the MCU show.
For the first 10 minutes of 'Whose Show is This?', you might be forgiven for thinking She-Hulk has lost its sense of humor. The previous eight episodes have (to mixed results) built up Jen as a funny, charming presence that was more likely to break the fourth wall and tee-up zingers than Hulk smash and serve subpoenas.
The She-Hulk finale, then, appears to fall in line with the MCU's disappointing history of Disney Plus sendoffs in its opening half. Cute parody of the Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk TV show aside, the episode degenerates into a by-the-numbers showdown with Todd, who is predictably revealed to be the leader of Intelligencia after some fun legwork from Pug and Nikki.
After Todd injects himself with gamma blood, it all turns into a cliche of Marvel's worst final-act missteps: Abomination, Titania, and Mark Ruffalo's Hulk get involved as the show contorts itself into yet another CGI-heavy throwdown brawl. We were getting WandaVision flashbacks… and then, it happens.
Do not adjust your sets
While She-Hulk has never been a stranger to meta humor, it's hard to downplay the absurdity of the MCU's biggest, wildest swing. To do it justice, it's worth laying it all out on the page: Jen, fed up with her finale fizzling out, breaks out of Disney Plus and into the real world via an icon for Marvel's Assembled documentary series. After hunting down the She-Hulk writers' room – including head writer Jessica Gao – she comes face to face with Kevin. Except this isn't Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. This is K.E.V.I.N (Knowledge Enhanced Visual Interconnectivity Nexus), the AI in charge of all of Marvel.
What follows is the show at its most gleefully irreverent, poking fun at Marvel's tropes ("What's with all the daddy issues?" Jen asks) and echoing inpatient fans ("When are we getting the X-Men?"). For some, it's going to be too much: a smug, self-satisfied look at the pop culture behemoth that, at times, weirdly punches down – with Marvel's shonky special effects taking the brunt in one mean-spirited joke. For others, it's going to be a genius twist that deconstructs Marvel's biggest flaws in a universe-breaking way that even Deadpool is going to find hard to top.
Jen is able to finesse the story to her liking, putting Todd in handcuffs and making Abomination repentant. It neatly side steps Marvel's biggest recurring issue and, yet, it still doesn't account for the finale's opening third feeling the way that it did. Hackneyed writing is still hackneyed writing, no matter how you frame it. Plus, there's the small issue of She-Hulk completely breaking the universe for an admittedly great extended joke. Expect polarized Marvel fans to chew over this endlessly in the coming days on social media.
After all the fourth-wall-breaking mayhem, the She-Hulk finale settles down in its final moments. Daredevil (at Jen's request, because a "woman has needs") drops in for a family BBQ. The show, and Jen, has always felt most comfortable in these low-key moments where people are just hanging out, and so it proves again. If Jen's story ends here – and K.E.V.I.N isn't so sure she's getting a movie – then at least we leave her in a more settled place.
The Hulk reveal, on the other hand, is a bit of a clunker. Yes, Hulk has a son and, yes, comic book fans will likely revel in Skaar's brief cameo, but it's a case of She-Hulk having its cake and eating it. You can't rip up the rulebook then revert back to type minutes later for a future tease. Still, see you in 2027…?
Getting meta ourselves for a moment, it's hard to rate She-Hulk's finale. The sequence where the lightbulb goes off and Jen breaks free of the medium of her own show is an "Of course" moment that will live long in the memory. It's brave, bold, and daring in ways Marvel often fails to be. Yet, the finale still spends too much of its time playing the hits and failing to find its funny bone in the process. It's the strangest of concepts: a five-star idea that requires a two-star idea to work. You might love it. You might hate it. But you've got to admire them really going for it. It was either that or Hulk King crashing into CGI rubble for 25 minutes.