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Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law just completed its first full season on Disney+, allowing Jennifer Walters to get her full introduction into the MCU in her full glory. This came with one of the most unique twist endings in Marvel Cinematic Universe history, largely due to Jen’s unusual ability to break the fourth wall – something she did regularly in the comics and in her first run from Phase 4.
Warning – the rest of this article contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Instead of fighting a prototypical MCU big bad like the Abomination or even the Leader, Jen used her meta abilities to smash the fourth wall, head straight to the top guns at Marvel Studios, and assert her problems with the way her story ended. This put her face-to-face with the company’s in-universe AI intelligence system, appropriately named KEVIN in honor of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
This helped She-Hulk take the biggest left turn of any MCU Disney+ project to date, allowing Jennifer Walters to literally write the end of her own story in a wild trip to the top of the food chain as she found the balance between her two personalities. Now, the show’s head writer has taken the chance to look at that ending as Marvel’s newest attorney looks to continue her journey in the Multiverse Saga.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law head writer and producer Jessica Gao spoke with Marvel about the ending of Episode 9 and how it came together.
Gao explained how the leading heroine is “so self-aware and she knows she’s in a show,” fully understanding that there’s somebody controlling every aspect of the story up until the very end. Jen came to this realization as she was detained by Damage Control, coming to terms with the fact that this wasn’t how she wanted things to go:
“She’s so self-aware and she knows she’s in a show, and she knows that there is somebody writing this and pulling the strings for now. Up until now, she always played along because she felt like, ‘OK, well, this is the story that I was meant to live out.’ There was this unspoken assumption that whoever was doing it had more or less her best interest in mind or at least didn’t have any malicious intent. In this moment [at the end of Episode 8], it was the betrayal of knowing that they didn’t have her best interests in mind.”
Gao continued into the reveal of K.E.V.I.N., the artificial intelligence program that’s running the MCU from inside the MCU itself.
She explained that she wrote nearly two dozen versions of the final episode, but nothing she came up with felt right until the one she landed on:
“I think I probably wrote like, 20 versions of a finale that went all over the place and I started feeling like, ’Well, this is a Marvel show, I better give them the classic Marvel ending. Big villain fight, big finale. But it never felt right because I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”
In the end, it was a chat with the real Kevin Feige that made her realize she was going in the right direction. He made her come to grips with the fact that it was ok to not go for “the Marvel expectation of what the show had to be” and go for something completely different instead:
“(Feige) really opened my mind to the idea that it’s OK to not do that because I was trying to do what I thought was the Marvel expectation of what the show had to be. He was like, ‘Why? No one’s telling you to do that, you don’t have to do that, you can do something completely different, we should be doing something completely different because this show is so different from anything that Marvel has done.’ It was getting that permission from him that really made me think, ‘Oh.’ It just changed everything.”
The head writer gave credit to John Byrne’s run on She-Hulk for the inspiration behind the crazy fourth-wall break, especially noting that Jen was “completely betrayed by the makers of this show” as she looks to the lord and savior of the MCU in K.E.V.I.N.:
“It felt natural that not only that she was in a show, but that she would have opinions about the show, especially since she just was completely betrayed by the makers of this show. It just felt right that she would go and complain to the ultimate lord of Marvel, which is K.E.V.I.N..”
In the end, Gao felt that this decision was the right way to end a series specifically starring She-Hulk, having been “very upfront and honest about what kind of show this is” for the MCU:
“This feels right for this show. This is not the right ending for every show, but this is the right ending for this show. We could not have been more clear about what this show is. From day one, we’ve been very upfront and honest about what kind of show this is, what the expectations for the show will be. And for some reason, people love to not believe that…even though we’ve been telling them for months now that this is what the show is going to be.”
While She-Hulk’s season finale was completely different than anything Marvel’s ever done on TV or on the big screen, it felt perfectly appropriate for who Jennifer Walters is in both the comics and on Disney+. Her fourth-wall-breaking abilities are what make her one of the most unique characters in all of comics, and it seems only fitting that the MCU leaned so heavily into that for her finale, letting her demolish the fourth wall and take her own path to success.
And while this season finale didn’t include much of the usual battling that a season finale typically holds, She-Hulk going straight to the artificial brain leading the entire MCU felt like exactly what the hero would do. Gao and her team didn’t hide anything from fans about what this series would bring, particularly with its meta nature, and diving into that headfirst in this episode seemed to be exactly where the story was heading in the end.
And while it may not have been what fans were expecting, as the AI K.E.V.I.N. said in the series, it’s best to “leave that debate up to the Internet.”
All nine episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are now steaming on Disney+.