I’ll be honest; I think Disney+’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series is great. The writers really got the flavor of both The Sensational She-Hulk title as well as some of the later series. I would have been disappointed if she had not broken the fourth wall in the show.
Some viewers don’t get the show… or the character… or the message… or the theme. And that’s okay because to have average viewers you need to recognize the extremes to the mean. The show even recognizes this as they plastered their real tweets from some of them.
Every village has an idiot.
But I’ve enjoyed it because, with each episode, the comic book geek in me squealed like a twelve-year-old girl in a room full of kittens. I have not mainlined so many obscure references and easter eggs since I watched an extended cut of Ready Player One.
Now that the series has wound down, I wanted to push this listicle to bring anyone who isn’t an old-school comic book fanboy up to speed.
I’ll try to list this stuff chronologically, but there’s a lot to unpack and I get impulsive.
So let’s start with…
If there was any character out there that had a grudge match from day one, it’s Titania (aka Mary “Skeeter” MacPherran). She made her first appearance back in 1984’s Secret Wars #3. When the Beyonder made the Battleworld for many of the Marvel heroes and villains that fought in that twelve-issue series, he pieced together a whole bunch of planet parts like an insane geological jigsaw puzzle.
Part of that planet was a bit of downtown Denver. So, along with all the heroes and villains, some innocent bystanders got caught up in the drama.
One of the villains was Doctor Doom, who lives to tinker with alien technology and was happy to get two human guinea pigs—I mean volunteers—to test out what this weird machine might do when combined with this other weird machine, hooked up the women who would eventually be Titania and Marsha Rosenberg to this tech.
In a scene that would make Doctor Victor Frankenstein blush, complete with thunder and lightning for atmosphere, Doom throws the switch to let the eldritch exotic energies go amuck.
MacPherran, who was timid, skinny, small, and frail, went through a Steve Rogers into Captain America-like transformation into a six-foot-six powerhouse of a woman with a chip on her shoulder the size of Wisconsin. Now part of Doom’s “team evil”, she was happy to take on any challengers including that of her future lover, the Absorbing Man, Crusher Creel. While Titania proved to be a threat to practically everyone she faced, the two heroes that gave her a royal whompin’ were She-Hulk and Spider-Man. The former challenged her power level and the latter simply beat the living hell out of her as a more experienced fighter.
To this day, Titania has been the She-Hulk’s most persistent and aggressive arch enemy. Often she has fought the jade giantess somehow finding her at a low point and has occasionally gotten the better of her.
Dennis “Buck” Bukowski
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law needed a galactic-size douche. The show brought on board the amply qualified prosecuting attorney, Dennis “Buck” Bukowski. To say that Buck is a douche is like saying the Eiffel Tower is a bit of experimental architecture. Bukowski brings swarm and obnoxiousness to a new form of low-performance art.
He is tasteless, classless, vain, egotistical, misogynistic, cowardly, and somewhat evil. He caused the death of Jennifer Walter’s best friend Jill Stevens while accusing She-Hulk of being responsible for her death.
He is the type of person that always makes people want to shower after meeting him.
Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway (GLK&H)
This reference has the virtue of being an easter egg within an easter egg. It’s a real twofer.
The law firm of GLK&H specializes in superhero law. It’s where She-Hulk works and it is one of the most prestigious law firms on the east coast. Along with She-Hulk, other meta-powered beings in the MU, have found employment—such as the Mad Thinker’s Awesome Android (Andy) and the Two-Gun Kid.
Within the series, viewers have met Holden Holliway, who seems to be the active senior partner. However, the hidden joke is that the Goodman, Lieber, and Kurtzberg were named after Martin Goodman (former head editor and chief of Marvel when it was Timely Comics), Stan (Leiber) Lee, and Jack (Kurtzberg) Kirby—the last two were responsible for creating some of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. Even their address is “Timely Plaza” after Timely Comics.
After watching Shang-Chi, it was nice to see that they gave the Abomination a makeover.
Fans of The Incredible Hulk movie will recognize Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) as the chief antagonist of that movie. His origin in the MCU was a crazy combination of injecting an unstable super soldier formula along with some gamma-irradiated blood cloned from Bruce Banner. Universal Pictures made a giant character who had mutated vertebrae and a really bad attitude.
Disney decided to make a character that looked a lot more like the comic book version.
In the comics, Emil Blonsky was a Russian spy sent to get the gamma secrets from Bruce Banner. When he discovered Banner’s tech, he decided to subject himself to the gamma stimulation device (that Bruce Banner used to use when he could not use his own biological fear and aggression stimulus to make him the Hulk—instead of launching another gamma bomb).
I’m going to stop here for a moment and explain the science of gamma mutation in the Marvel Universe. It affects everyone differently. For Bruce Banner, it made a brilliant rational man with a frail body into a powerhouse with the emotional intelligence level of a five-year-old. For Jennifer Walters, it made her into She-Hulk—who originally had some anger issues and then learned to control them and retain her intelligence. For characters like the Leader, it made him into an inverse Hulk—a superintelligent mind inside a normal human body. And for a character like Doc Samson, it made him powerful with the only side effect of making his hair green.
For Emil Blonsky, it was a mixed bag of freaky.
While it gave him a reptilian appearance with two toes on each foot, along with a brow and webbed ears. Unlike the MCU version, Blonsky’s change was permanent. He could not change back.
The biggest difference between the Hulk and the Abomination is that he is naturally stronger than the Hulk. Because what good is an antagonist who is weaker than your protagonist? For the Hulk to win a fight with him, the Hulk must be enraged. Remember, “the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets”.
As the Abomination, Blonsky is one of the strongest characters to ever walk the earth.
In the MCU, Wong is the current Sorcerer Supreme. The unsaid reason for this was that, unlike Doctor Strange, Wong was not a part of the five-year “blip” and someone had to protect the world from unseen mystical threats.
In the regular Marvel Universe, Wong is Doctor Strange’s valet and sidekick. This is not to say that he is mediocre at the mystic arts. Wong is the latest in a long line of mystic masters. As part of an atonement for his ancestor, Kan, who was a mystic and a healer, every eldest son in his family line have been in service to the mystic that serve the forces of good. It was Wong’s father who served the same way as Doctor Strange’s master, the Ancient One.
He is a master martial artist, as he has studied in Kamar Taj. He is also adept at the dark arts—so much so that he would be a candidate for the next Sorcerer Supreme.
The Wrecker and the Wrecking Crew
Once upon a time, the Norse god, Loki, wanted to make some mischief for his brother, Thor. Do you see where this is going?
Dirk Garthwaite (aka the Wrecker) worked for a demolition crew and was quite adept at using a crowbar. This was the perfect job for a man who was violent and unstable. He got to destroy things.
Well, until he was fired for, you know, being violent and unstable.
He began to commit robberies and used to leave a crowbar as his calling card. I can only imagine that he’d be the type of guy who would leave a message that would say, “You’ve been wrecked! HAHAHAHA!”
Well, in a whacky mix-up that could only happen in a sitcom, a de-powered Loki was staying in a hotel room and encountered the Wrecker. The Wrecker decided to try on Loki’s helmet and in a sensational bit of timing the Norn queen, Karnilla, mistook him for Loki and gave him magical powers.
Despite putting a weakened Thor in the ER and getting his butt handed to him by the Asgardian construct Destroyer, he lost his powers. The Wrecker regained his power when he and a bunch of misfit partners held his crowbar, and it got struck by lightning.
Ordinarily, the Wrecker would have enough strength to press forty tons, but now his power was divided with his crew. His partners, now known as Piledriver, Bulldozer, and Thunderball, became the Wrecking Crew and each could press ten tons.
These guys are hero fodder. In the Marvel Universe, they get their butts kicked almost all the time. They are almost the definition of big, dumb, strong idiots.
This man just cannot die. And it’s not like he hasn’t tried.
Mr. Immortal made his first appearance as the leader of a group of C-list heroes known as The Great Lakes Avengers. Craig Hollis discovered he was immortal when he attempted suicide and it just didn’t work. Instead of being dead, he recovered instantly with his body completely healed.
Is his really strong? No. Does he fly? Well, not really, unless you count falling to your death from a high building. Do heat beams come from his eyes or can he do anything substantial? Nope.
His powers just keep him from dying. If he gets hurt, he will heal as quickly as a normal person. However, if he dies, he will be completely healed when he comes back to life—which could either be instantly or in ten minutes or so. In addition to this, he does not age.
Outside of that, he’s relatively agile.
Ironically, this is not the first time Marvel has used this name for a character or a group.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has not revealed who or what the Intelligencia is yet—outside of the fact that it is an underground website with bad things to say about She-Hulk
That said, let me tell you who they may be.
Intelligencia could be the Skrull counterpart to the Kree Supreme Intelligence. In essence, it is a cybernetic being that is made up of the greatest Skrull minds who have ever lived.
That’s probably not who it will be.
It is most likely a group of super-geniuses that have allied themselves with each other. The Intelligencia consists of The Leader (highly probable), Doctor Doom, the Mad Thinker, MODOK, and Egghead.
Here’s what we know. As of Antman and the Wasp, Egghead is dead. MODOK, outside of being a property of the Hulu animated series, has not made an appearance. Doctor Doom has not come into the MCU… yet. I’m sure we’ll see him as part of the Fantastic Four’s plotline. We may meet the Mad Thinker, but he’s also a property of the FF. With that as the case, we will probably see the return/debut of The Leader (aka Dr. Samuel Sterns) who we have not seen since his head started to pulsate in The Incredible Hulk movie.
When you name a character Bill Taurens, there aren’t going to be any real surprises about who or what this character will be.
Here is where we get to the lower rung of the C-list villains and go to the D-list.
Bill Taurens was recruited to “find” test subjects for an experimental serum extracted from bull hormones. After his contact was defeated by Daredevil, the mad scientist decided to use Bill as his next test subject. The serum turned Taurens into a mannish bull person. He became really strong and grew huge horns on his head.
After Daredevil defeated him by throwing him into a wall, he transformed back into a human again.
It was the second injection he got in jail that permanently turned him into a freak. Since then, his condition has just mutated more and more and he has become more bull than man.
And the more bull he became, the more savage he got.
For the most part, Man-Bull has been a goon in most illicit schemes around New York whenever he cannot get a job as a henchman or lacky.
Back when Wesley Snipes was breathing life into the Marvel film franchise in the 90s, Marvel brought a new title to life. It was simply called “Blade”.
If you blinked, you might have missed it.
In any event, they resuscitated the Blade character from “The Tomb of Dracula” series to do battle with the Lord of the Vampires again. This sort of needed to happen because Marvel had written off practically every vampire going through the use of the ritual known as “The Montesi Formula” that was written in the Darkhold book of black magic.
A side note about the Darkhold—it’s a lot more dangerous than they made it out to be in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Those who are not really, really good at magic shouldn’t even touch it without risking their souls or a good case of lycanthropy.
Saracen is a very ancient vampire. Although I would probably question his intelligence regarding his hiding place over the last few hundred years; living under the Vatican may not have been the best place to stay.
He hasn’t been seen around in a while.
Some villains are just really likable. El Águila is one of them. How can you not like a character like “The Eagle”? He’s a modern-day Zorro with superpowers.
El Águila (aka Alejandro Montoya) is a Spanish mutant from Madrid. He discovered early that he could generate electricity from his body. When he discovered this, he decided to use his powers and combine them with a metal sword. He is the latest in a long line of his ancestors to take the mantle of “The Eagle”.
As he is not a sanctioned superhero, he is technically a villain.
He spends his time hunting after drug dealers, slumlords, and other evildoers.
As I said, he’s not just an electro-powered mutant, he’s a swordsman—and a damn good one. Normally, he can be found in the company of the Heroes for Hire with Powerman and Iron Fist, as well as the Sons of the Tiger.
When all the heroes and villains in New York City started to gain traction with armor-powered suits, Alexander Gentry decided to put the talents and expertise he gained designing weapons for the U.S. Army to good use. So, after he created a suit that emulated a porcupine, he went one step further and made it shoot quills, too.
As well as other horrible offensive assault substances like flames, gas, and chemical weapons.
It was a great suit for committing crimes.
The only problem was that the Porcupine was a terrible criminal. He wasn’t good at it. How bad was he? He tried to rob a bank and use Hank Pym’s Pym-particle gas to grow into a giant—only he stole the wrong gas and shrunk himself. He stayed tiny until the gas wore off.
While Gentry did make vast improvements to his suit, eventually he discovered that his heart wasn’t in it.
He had a slew of humiliating defeats and eventually, he decided to sell his armor to A.I.M. They didn’t want it. Eventually, he made a truce to go undercover to infiltrate the Serpent Society. During the battle, he tripped and impaled himself on his quills and died.
Ultimately, Gentry’s battle suit fell into the hands of another criminal Roger Gocking.
Daredevil’s Yellow Costume
Ever since I heard the rumor that Charlie Cox was going to be on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, I’ve been excited about it. I was even more excited to hear about the yellow costume.
Hardcore Marvel fans remember the yellow costume as his original suit before he donned his red spandex devil suit. This original outfit was worn during Daredevil’s lighter days when he faced off against characters like the Ox, the Eel, Mister Fear, and the Stilt-Man.
These were before the days of Frank Miller’s dark run when he began going after the Kingpin of Crime and had his blood feud against the assassin known as Bullseye.
In Daredevil’s early stories, he was more akin to worrying about his secret identity being blown or whether he might lose a trial as the attorney, Matt Murdock.
The first thing I thought of when they said Eugene Patilio was Leap Frog was that they got it wrong. Eugene wasn’t Leap Frog; his father was.
Again, it’s all in the suit.
Vincent Patilio was a failed criminal who used a frog suit to commit crimes. The suit allowed the wearer to jump up to sixty feet in the air with the use of electric-powered springs. After a less-than-stellar criminal career, Vincent was caught by Daredevil and sent to jail.
Eugene found the suit and decided to try to atone for his father’s sins and become a vigilante. Changing his handle to “The Fabulous Frogman”. While he has been a somewhat clumsy champion of justice, he did manage to put away the criminal speedster, Speed Demon.
In a perfect world, Marvel would introduce characters and canon storylines however they please. If you were old enough to remember the premiere of 2007’s Iron Man with RDJ fifteen years ago as it coincided with The Incredible Hulk in 2008, you are probably old enough to critique this move. At the time, you might have recognized that both Iron Man, the Hulk, and even Captain America were not fan-favorites in the comic book world.
Even if viewers went back a few years to the early 2000s, after Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire, both The Hulk starring Eric Bana and The Fantastic Four starring Michael Chiklis and Ioan Gruffudd, did not score well at the box office.
Especially The Hulk. Ang Lee and Stan Lee somehow combined their creative powers to come up with gamma-irradiated killer poodles. If you are a viewer who was upset over She-Hulk: Attorney at Law for subpar stories and inferior CGI, go back and watch that turdburger. SH:AaL was like Masterpiece Theatre by comparison.
But I digress.
Much of the reason why and how Marvel did what it did was due to the ownership rights to the characters. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, and Black Widow were wholly owned by Marvel. The Hulk’s movie rights were the property of Universal Studios. The same can be said for Spider-Man (who is partially owned by Sony), the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men as they were owned by Fox.
So, what happened?
Marvel took what they could work with and made movies with the properties they owned. Iron Man could use characters like the Iron Monger. Cap could fight the Red Skull. Thor could fight Loki. However, when The Avengers came out in 2012, the Hulk didn’t have an archenemy because Marvel Studios did not have the rights to any of his opponents. This was part of the deal that Marvel had with Universal Studios.
The Hulk could be with the Avengers and with other heroes, but neither he nor the Hulk properties could have their own solo movie. In other words, the Hulk would always be a “guest star”.
The point is that “rights ownership” has shaped how and when characters in the MCU evolve. With each acquisition that Disney makes with other studios, the MCU grows a little bit more as well.
It’s something to look forward to. After all, when Disney finally begins working with the rights of The Fantastic Four, truckloads of previously unheard-of villains will make their marks in the MCU. Doctor Doom, Diablo, Dragon Man, Galactus, Blastaar, Annihilus, the Moleman, the Lava Men, the Molecule Man, and scores of other unheard villains will come and threaten the heroes of the MCU.
It’s the same thing with the X-Men. Disney can now introduce the merry mutants to the MCU now that it acquired Fox.
And here’s the joke—She-Hulk, a lawyer, broke the fourth wall to talk to the real-world audience. However, it is the real-world legal system that reciprocates this by impacting the Marvel Cinematic Universe.