This article contains spoilers for She-Hulk: Attorney At Law and The Incredible Hulk (2008). If you haven’t caught up yet, check out our spoiler-free She-Hulk Episode 2 review.
It’s been nearly fifteen years since the MCU burst onto screens with Iron Man releases months apart, quickly followed by The Incredible Hulk. In the years since then, fans have met many of the Marvel Universe’s most famous heroes, along with a few lesser-known ones who have now achieved A-list status. But a decade and a half of storytelling also means there’s been time. for introspection and, in some cases, to recognize past mistakes. It started in earnest in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, when Spider-Man: Far From Home began investigating the legacy of Tony Stark, a man who thought it was a good idea to give a child weapons that would end the world. Since then, the MCU has delved even deeper into the Avengers and the actions, events, and organizations that created and enabled them. She-Hulk’s second episode builds on that exploration with the reintroduction of Emil Blonksy (Tim Roth).
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Although viewers briefly saw the character as Abomination in the Madripoor fight club in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, we haven’t seen Blonsky in his human form since The Incredible Hulk. In She-Hulk, he comes across as a central conflict for Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany). If she wants to head the Superhuman Law department at GLK&H, then she has to represent Blonsky at her parole hearing. There’s a little problem with that: years ago, Blonsky tried to kill his cousin Bruce. What could have become, and arguably would have become in previous MCU entries, a fight that ended his career or sparked an international incident, instead becomes a meditation on Blonsky’s experience and the way that was exploited. As she explains to Jen, he was a highly regarded and rewarded soldier who was given a failed recreation of the serum that was used to create Captain America.
In Blonsky’s mind, he was a hero who was sent to reduce a threat from the United States government. And he is not wrong. The events of The Incredible Hulk, directed by Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), fit into the heavily militarized early framework of the MCU and its heroes. In addition to Ross’ personal vendetta against Bruce Banner due to his relationship with his daughter, he is desperate to create a Hulk-like weapon for the US military to use on the battlefield. Blonsky’s exploitation of him was based on promises of heroism, medals, and a Captain America-esque legacy. Blonsky’s desperation to be that hero led him to use Bruce Banner’s blood to expand his powers, creating the creature known as the Abomination. Ultimately, it was Banner who became an Avenger and Blonsky who spent the last decade of his life in jail.
In that way, it’s pretty surprising that it took Marvel Studios this long to get back to Blonksy, as her link to the Super Soldier Serum was actually our first real connection to what would become the broader MCU. Although The Incredible Hulk is the worst performing MCU movie, it was the first to feature a version of the serum that created Captain America, something that has become increasingly important as the recreation was part of Bruce Banner’s origin and of Blonsky. . Captain America may have been a successful result of the serum, but it has often been used to exploit and weaponize. Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier, was also tortured with a version of the serum, as was his fellow experimenters we met in Captain America: Civil War.
But it was another victim of the serum who really showed the world the depravity and reality of the show. When The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Introduced Isaiah Bradley– who in the comics wielded the mantle of Captain America in the field before Steve Rogers – there was no doubt that he was an innocent victim of the Super Soldier Serum. Whereas in the past the MCU seemed to leave the conversation in a space of moral turmoil, Isaiah’s story showed that the government had used black soldiers to experiment and, in his case, imprisoned him to keep him quiet. It was the first true statement about the dangerous legacy of the Super Soldier Serum, as well as the mantle of Captain America. With the addition of Blonsky and his direct removal from the show that made him Abomination, the MCU is once again confronted with that legacy.
She-Hulk isn’t just criticizing the Super Soldier show, though. In reality, she tries to come to terms with him, and both Bruce and Emil get some closure. Jen is shocked and moved by Emil’s experience, and she decides to take the case. But her love for her cousin means that she first has to check with him. It’s a big moment for the MCU because we rarely hear the MCU Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) reference The Incredible Hulk and Bruce’s (Edward Norton) experience. The cheeky nod to that comes as Bruce explains that he thinks Jen should take on the case, a generous move that allows him to move on. As he reminds his cousin, he is “a completely different person now.” And as we all know, that is both a literal and a metaphorical truth. Although Emil’s fate remains unclear at the end of this episode, and to be honest, it doesn’t look too good after a video leaked of him fighting in Madripoor, with Jen by his side, he has a good chance of a fight. new life. And it was time.
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