Marvel’s last Disney+ show of the very divisive Phase 4 premiered today. She-Hulk: Attorney At Law just released its first episode titled ‘A Normal Amount of Rage‘. The episode featured Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters (aka She-Hulk) and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (aka Hulk). The episode was directed by Kat Coiro and written by Jessica Gao.
The official synopsis for the episode on Disney+ reads – ‘Jen Walters’s world is turned upside down after a freak accident leaves her with superpowers.‘
The episode featured the origin of Jennifer Walter’s powers, her ingenious lawyer skills, and how easily she can handle her alter ego persona. Apart from these, there were also subtle and some ‘not-so-subtle’ references made to the OG Avengers of MCU.
Let’s look into them here. Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
MCU has always represented the love lives of its OG Avengers to a great extent: Hawkeye had Laura, Tony Stark had Pepper, and Thor had Jane. But the road for the same for our Steve Rogers has been a bouncy one. As per what was shown in movies, the only romantic encounter that Rogers had was a brief kiss with Carter’s niece Sharon during Civil War after emerging from the ice in the 21st century. This left some fans wondering whether Rogers ever lost his virginity, before going back to live out his days with Peggy after the events of Endgame.
In She-Hulk episode 1, Jennifer Walters and Bruce Banner (as a human) were riding together in a car. Prior to their accident, Walters brings up the topic of Steve Roger’s virginity which she based on her knowledge from ‘The History Channel’. On that basis, she says to Banner that Steve Rogers didn’t have a girlfriend before being frozen in ice, and got “pretty busy” after coming out as he went from “world-threatening disaster to world-threatening disaster.” Banner calmly denies her and said that it was not true.
However, in the post-credit scene of the episode, Banner (in his Hulk self) and Walters are at Bruce’s Bar. She-Hulk is carrying on with her theory that Steve Rogers never had sex. Recalling the line about America’s “behind,” she even yells “That a** did not deserve to die a virgin!”
Hearing this Banner breaks and explains to her that was not the case. He explains that Rogers did lose his virginity in 1943 to a girl on the USO tour. Walters then reveals that she was faking being drunk all along. She cunningly had used her lawyer skills in bringing out the truth from Banner. Walters yells exuberantly “Captain America Fu—,” with the scene cutting to black before she finishes her profanity.
Whether this was true or not, cannot be said at the moment. Because Rogers had already met Peggy before going on the USO tour, and being with another girl could feel to him like he was cheating on Peggy. Whatever the case, the theory of Captain America’s virginity has finally been put to rest by the writers at MCU.
Bruce and Tony were very good friends ever since they met in Avengers. This fact has been highlighted in the episode too. After Walter’s sudden transformation following the car accident, Banner brings her to his tiny beach house somewhere on the Mexico coast. When Walters regains her consciousness, she walks down to a lab. There she finds Bruce Banner in his ‘Smart Hulk‘ form. When she asks about the place, he said that “This is where I spent The Blip fixing myself and integrating Hulk-Banner identities.” Banner later reveals that the lab was built by his friend Tony Stark a few years ago.
He says, “He used a joke that it was a loaner, and one day he’d just swing by and take it (lab) back.” He then smacks his lips, probably grieving the fact that he was no longer alive.
Bruce then starts training Walters about her Hulk powers. Later he takes her to a Bar that he had in his beach house. When Walters asks him if he built the bar by hand, Banner answers that he built it with the help of Tony. He says “Well, Tony mostly drank, just sat around, like complaining about Steve.” He was most probably referencing their times during The Blip. Bruce then points to an engraving of their initials on the bar table. It read – ‘B.B.’ and ‘T.S.’, standing obviously for Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. Later they both cheered on his line “It was a Good time during the Hard times“.
Back in the days of Avengers: Age of Ultron, it was shown that Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) could control Banner’s rage when he was in his Hulk form. She used to sing a lullaby of sorts to calm him down. Walter asks Banner how he was able to transform back and forth between his human form and Hulk. To which he says, “Usually I fall out of a jet (The Incredible Hulk and Thor Ragnarok), or I get knocked out by a robot (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and I’d wake up as Banner.” He further continues that “Or, Natasha, for a little while, would tell me a lullaby.”
This clearly referred to when Natasha used to say – “Hey Big guy, Sun’s getting real low” to Banner. She would then bring out her hand and calm him with her gentle touch to his arms. This showed that Banner cared about Natasha and still laments her demise.
All of these references and callbacks clearly show the kind of relationship that Bruce Banner had with his Avengers colleagues. He was a confidante to Steve Rogers, a buddy to Tony Stark, and clearly missed Natasha about how she treated him.
Their parting has affected him greatly, and now he is cautious and a bit hesitant about what he says or does. This clearly humanizes the character and we as an audience instantly connect with him. The show also did an incredible job of introducing Jennifer Walter’s She-Hulk. With Daredevil and Wong still to make their appearances, it will be interesting to see where the show heads next.