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Movie Reviews

She-Hulk Episode 5 MCU Easter Eggs & References

Warning: This article contains spoilers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5.She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 is absolutely packed with Marvel and MCU Easter eggs, many of which shine a surprising light on an aspect of the superhero industry seldom discussed. In the comics, She-Hulk is known for breaking the fourth wall, interacting directly with readers in an amusingly self-aware way. The She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Disney+ TV series has followed the same approach, but in episode 5 it is dialed up to eleven.

At first glance, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 is a surreal meditation on identity in an age where anything can be trademarked. Jennifer Walters never wanted the name “She-Hulk” in the first place, but there is a sense in which it is now consuming her. Episode 4 ended with Jennifer learning Titania had trademarked the She-Hulk name, and of course in episode 5 the two women wind up in court – as was inevitable given this is a legal comedy. Rather than choose a new superhero name, She-Hulk is left fighting for the right to stick with the one that has been foisted upon her. The plot may be treated as comedy, but there’s something distinctly sad about Jennifer Walters’ character arc.

Related: Every Confirmed Hulk Character In The MCU (So Far)

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 is unusual, however, in that this A-plot is also treated as an opportunity to reflect on the real-world industry fueled by superhero films and TV shows. There’s a surprising amount of depth to this episode, a level of self-awareness unusual even in the MCU, where Marvel tend to give a knowing wink to the audience rather than explore the industry in detail. All the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 MCU Easter eggs are interesting, but some take breaking the fourth wall to the next level.

The Titania courtroom drama is particularly meta given Marvel really did create She-Hulk for trademark reasons. In 1980, the success of The Incredible Hulk TV show on CBS led Marvel Comics to become concerned the network would beat them to the punch by creating their own She-Hulk. Had they done so, CBS could have then created a spinoff TV series starring this original character without any involvement (or payment) to Marvel, because they would have owned the rights. This may sound absurd, but there was actually precedent, because ABC had just created a spinoff of The Six-Million Dollar Man called The Bionic Woman for that very reason.

Other cases of superhero names really have wound up in court. The classic example is the name “Captain Marvel,” created by Fawcett Comics as something of a Superman rip-off. The trademark expired by the ’60s, and Marvel created a new version to secure the rights. In order to retain the trademark, Marvel Comics has had to publish a Captain Marvel comic at least every two years, leading to a number of reinventions, relaunches, and legacies. The current Captain Marvel is, of course, Carol Danvers; meanwhile, the first hero to hold the name now belongs to DC, where he’s become known as Shazam. As such, much of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 is actually dealing with a real-world issue.

Although all attention is typically on viewing figures and box office performance, merchandise and distribution are the real ways modern blockbusters make most of their money. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 focuses on merchandise, with reflections on signed products and bootleg products. There’s even a return to an Easter egg from She-Hulk episode 2, with a nod to the “Iron Man Three” shoes.

Related: Marvel Phase 4 Has Finally Remembered Doctor Strange’s Greatest Tool

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 introduces Renée Elise Goldsberry as Mallory Book, a lawyer who represents Jennifer Walters during her humiliating court battle with Titania. Mallory is lifted straight from the comics, where she was one of Jennifer’s main rivals – and ultimately became her boss. Hopefully she’ll become a series regular going forward, because she speaks some hard truths to She-Hulk that needed to be said.

Griffin Matthews’ Luke Jacobson seems like a clear nod to The Incredibles, which featured a popular superhero fashion designer named Edna Mode (who insisted on “No capes“). This particular She-Hulk Easter egg works on many levels, though, because Luke Jacobson is in fact an established character from the comics, where he was associated with detective Dakota North. His assistant, played by Brandon Stanley, is identified as Eugene Patilio in the credits; he becomes the superhero Frog-Man in the comics.

Luke Jacobson’s fashion emporium features a dummy with parts from a black bodysuit. Amusingly, the camera lingers over this, and Luke runs his hand down it lovingly as though to draw attention to it. Attentive viewers will notice the distinctive nipples molded into the material, a nod to Batman Forever‘s infamous Bat-Nipples. Real-world costume designer Jose Fernandez has recalled being influenced both by Roman designs, and the insane form-fitting nature of the costumes in the comics themselves.

She-Hulk’s MCU problem regarding clothing is, of course, a result of her constant changes in size and musculature. The comics avoid this problem because of something called “unstable molecules,” invented by Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four and made available to most superheroes. Clothing made of unstable molecules shrinks and grows to suit the wearer (Mr. Fantastic likely invented it to cover his own elastic body). Hopefully She-Hulk will get her hands on unstable molecules as soon as the Fantastic Four make their MCU debut, and this would be the perfect premise to have the superhero team begin interacting with more of the expanded MCU roster.

Related: She-Hulk’s Ending Can Set Up An Armor Wars Reveal

She-Hulk episode 5 doesn’t feature Daredevil, but it does at least contain a major tease setting up the street-level vigilante’s appearance. One of Luke Jacobson’s staff accidentally leaves a mask out, one that’s been spray-painted yellow. It’s a perfect match for the design of the Daredevil mask seen in the classic Marvel Netflix TV series, although the color matches with the MCU redesign seen in trailers for future episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

The credits on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law have been consistently amusing, and in this case one image teases merchandise associated with many Marvel heroes – including a number who haven’t appeared in the MCU yet. There are shoes with designs evocative of Doctor Strange, a comic book accurate Falcon, Doctor Doom, Captain America (or possibly America Chavez), Nova, Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel, the Thing, Deadpool, the Green Goblin, the Kree superhero Captain Marvel, and even the X-Men’s Cyclops. The Spider-Man design is actually a riff on the Scarlet Spider (a clone of Peter Parker, as proved by the logo on the shoes), while Shuri would no doubt be delighted at the Black Panther sneakers. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 5 really does end with a massive number of Easter eggs.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law releases new episodes on Thursdays on Disney+.

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