In case you found She-Hulk: Attorney at Law too subtle, the three main creatives behind the show would love to tell you how much they hate you. In an interview with Variety, She-Hulk showrunner Jessica Gao, director Kat Coiro, and star Tatiana Maslany shared their disdain for Marvel fans and the pleasure they took in sticking it to anyone who disliked the show – and based on their comments, they must’ve figured most people wouldn’t. To be sure, Variety is fishing for these comments with the questions, asking them about little besides how much Marvel fans suck, but the responses indicate satisfaction in expressing themselves.
Maslany goes first, discussing how “trolls” were made the show’s villains.
“As a cast, it was delightful sending each other these troll responses, like ‘Oh my god, give them a week and then they’re going to literally see this pop up verbatim in the show and become the villains of the show.’ It was thrilling.”
How did they know the exact responses they’d get? This almost sounds like the show was tailored to elicit these reactions from fans. On the surface, this seems strange – why alienate the people who like this stuff? But maybe the idea is shame; Marvel’s been taking a lot more criticism than it’s used to for its movies and TV shows lately, so perhaps this is all an attempt to teach fans their place, buying tickets and tweeting their adoration for whatever they’re lucky enough to be served. With all the talk of cost-cutting (in the show itself, as if it’s funny to point out how sloppily and cheaply your series was thrown together while you mock people who don’t like it), maybe this was just a throwaway aimed at addressing a larger problem for them. Or maybe I’m thinking about this too much, and they’re just whiney, vindictive snobs.
Maslany then talks about how Marvel fans hate women:
“There’s so much resistance to a woman just existing in that space of superheroes…There’s such an entitlement to space held by certain people, and to even exist as She-Hulk is like a fuck-you, and I love that.”
This is an admission both of ignorance of the character’s history and that the series serves to attack fans. She-Hulk has existed in comic books longer than I’ve been alive; if there were resistance to women superheroes, I don’t think she’d still be around, not to mention the many other women superheroes like Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel, half the X-Men, Sue Storm, or Wonder Woman (who is older than all of Marvel Comics; were women more accepted in male spaces in 1941 than they are now?). Even if you’re just counting the MCU, which is probably their only point of reference till someone throws them a character to put into the show, Black Widow has been a part of the franchise since Phase 1, and others were added along the way; the fans were also asking for a Black Widow movie long before Marvel finally made one. These are the people Tatiana Maslany enjoyed giving a “fuck-you.” But you’re still required to love the show, of course.
Next is Jessica Gao, who also admits the show exists to attack fans.
“The fact that we were able to predict what the reaction was going to be, what a lot of the trolling comments were going to be, really shows how very tired and unoriginal these trolls are. That really tickled me because the little troll that lives inside of me really loves trolling the trolls.”
You predicted the reactions by doing everything you could to ensure them. If you’re “trolling the trolls,” you’re doing it on purpose, making a bad show to get the people who love the characters to respond with their criticism. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder whether this was the plan from the start; if the show exists to needle the fans, what artistic value can there be in it? You have nothing to say other than, “Eat it, haters!” People don’t like being insulted, and even more, they don’t like things that exist solely to insult them.
Gao also says something revealing about the scene where Jen confronts “KEVIN,” the AI stand-in for Kevin Feige:
“That conversation between Jen and K.E.V.I.N. is very much the relationship that I have with real-life Kevin and a lot of that is taken from conversations I’ve had with him… If they had let me, I probably would have written a 10-minute conversation of my avatar arguing with Kevin.”
People have long speculated that Jen exists as a mouthpiece for the series’ writers rather than as a character in her own right (which she’s been for over forty years in the comics – amazing that fans don’t like this show), and Gao flat-out calls Jen her “avatar” here. Her comments about this scene being based on real conversations she’d had with Kevin Feige indicate that she really doesn’t like the MCU. And yet she was given a Marvel series to steer on her own.
In fact, if you want to know how petty and childish Gao is, read this excerpt from an interview she did with the Phase Zero podcast about the scene where She-Hulk confronts KEVIN:
“And it says in the script, ‘And the machine is wearing a little black baseball cap on top’… and then real Kevin… he goes, ‘It doesn’t make any sense why a machine would wear a baseball hat… that doesn’t make any sense; you can’t do it.’ And I was so furious… this was in a meeting with, like, twenty different people, and I said, ‘Kevin, if you don’t let me put a hat on that machine, then I quit.’”
This loon almost quit a high-profile job like a Marvel show on Disney+ because she couldn’t put a baseball cap on a robot camera, like a teenager throwing a tantrum. It’s astounding, but it also explains She-Hulk.
Finally, Kat Coiro mostly echoes what the others said about hating fans and taking pleasure in their disappointment with the show. But she does say a couple of interesting things. First, she talks about the fans and their dislike of She-Hulk:
“Even negative commentary, I always interpret as engagement. If people are that angry, they are paying attention. I look at all of it as positive.”
This is further evidence that the awful quality was intentional. If all attention is good attention and you’ve got writers for a legal show who laugh about being incapable of writing courtroom scenes, maybe the only way to go is down. So make it bad, cast the fans as the real villains, and see what happens.
Then, Coiro makes clear how much disdain She-Hulk has for the beloved films on whose coattails it’s riding:
“I was more squeamish about it than they were. I was like, ‘Are we going too far? Are we throwing Marvel and fans under the bus by putting down Marvel films?’”
Yes, you were. While freely admitting that your own show was garbage – a rare moment of honesty, as well as an admission that you didn’t care about anything but being a bunch of mean girls to your prospective audience – you trashed the great stuff that came before you. And as easy as it is to lay the blame at Gao, Maslany, and Coiro’s feet, Kevin Feige signed off on all of this. If he didn’t specifically want them to turn She-Hulk into a dig at everything he helped build and the fans who loved it, he just didn’t care if they did. Maybe he doesn’t care about much anymore; perhaps he’s gotten so big that he’d rather greenlight whatever anyone wants to do (outside of nonsensical hats) and wash his hands of it. It’s a shame that it’s come to this, but at least we’ll always have those movies Jessica Gao and company think are stupid.
Indeed. Outside of the stupid hat argument, he seems to be rubber-stamping everything anyone wants to do.
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Gao is awful, but Kevin is incompetent for ever even hiring her. After all this time, I don’t think Feige is the real deal. Bring back Perlmutter and Arad.