As an increasingly established pop culture force, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now reserves the right to interrogate its own canon for humorous effect and in She-Hulk it’s having quite a bit of fun doing so. None of it would work, however, if the show treated the question with any kind of real reverence. The legal questions are interesting but not that interesting. So wisely, in the place of real in-depth analysis, She-Hulk opts for cartoonish spectacle once again. This is where its swelling cast of suitably cartoonish supporting characters come into play.
All of the non-superpowered “regular” characters in the background of She-Hulk have sneakily been the show’s greatest asset thus far. Whether it’s a local news man on the street interview gone wrong or a Tik Tokker assessing She-Hulk’s bangability, everyone in this universe seems like they just stepped out of a contentious Pawnee City Council meeting in the best way. This week introduces perhaps the greatest of them all: Madisynn (Patty Guggenheim).
The perpetually white-girl wasted young lady introducing herself as “Madisynn with two ’ns’ and one ‘y’ but it’s not where you thinkkkkkk” twice presents two of the episode’s biggest laughs for me. When she pops back up in the post-credit to watch This Is Us with Wong and compare drink recipes, it’s another unexpected delight. Sometimes, the MCU attempts to introduce “normal” Janes and Joes like Dane Whitman (Kit Harrington) in Eternals or the unnamed waitress in The Avengers to remind our heroes of what they’re fighting for. But none of these characters have endeared me to the Avengers’ world-saving necessities than Madisynn. Fight harder, Wong! We’ve got to get this loveable trainwreck to brunch!
“Is This Not Real Magic?” is a really enjoyable half-hour of television. The only areas in which it struggles are when it tries to inject some perfunctory superhero action or gravitas into the proceedings. Donny Blaze’s storyline did indeed need to end with him screwing everything up and unleashing goo demons all over our realm, but the execution of She-Hulk and Wong taking care of it has all the visual flair and import of a custodian taking out the trash. Generally speaking, She-Hulk works better in the courtroom than on the battlefield.
Regrettably, She-Hulk doesn’t work out that well in the bedroom either. Far be it from me to deny the internet the sublime Freudian joys of a giant green mommy carrying her date around like a baby, but Jen’s dating woes represent the least sturdy portions of “Is This Not Real Magic?.” Our hero grappling with the reality that some men are interested in only her alter ego is an interesting concept to play with, but the show doesn’t really have the capacity to really deal with it just yet. The complications surrounding superheroic sexual rejection don’t play quite as well when presented alongside Madisynn and Wonger’s Wild Adventure.