Marvel Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. In this entry, we scrounge through the new She-Hulk Assembled doc on Disney+ and select the standout moments.
As much as we love the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows on Disney+, oftentimes, we find ourselves equally anticipating the Assembled hour-long docs that fall in their wake. The new She–Hulk behind-the-scenes entry contains numerous tidbits that help enhance the show’s overall viewing experience. It also has us reaching into our comic book longboxes to extend our Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) enthusiasm while we wait for word on a second season.
At fifty-three minutes, Assembled: The Making of She–Hulk comes crammed with info and insight into your favorite sequences, but we’ve cobbled together a handful of standout moments. What you’ll find below are some “a-ha”s, “whoa”s, and “oh really?”s. These peeks behind the curtain certainly make you appreciate the creators more, and the little mini-miracle She–Hulk is within its greater MCU surroundings.
Jessica Gao’s Black Widow Pitch Became She-Hulk
Show creator Jessica Gao originally went into Marvel Studios while they were scouring for Black Widow movie pitches. Her take on the story involved Jennifer Walters. Producer Brad Winderbaum appreciated her point of view but told her, “It kinda feels like you’re pitching a She-Hulk story with Black Widow in it.” All Gao could respond with was, “Guilty!” When she didn’t get the job, she did toss her name into the ring for whatever She-Hulk narrative might eventually pop up. She may have also threatened to burn down the studio if they didn’t.
Time went by, and Gao heard nothing from Marvel Studios. Suddenly, She–Hulk gets announced on stage at the 2019 D23 Expo. Gao is peeved. Her words were, said (somewhat) jokingly, “I’m furious.” She didn’t have long to stew. The next day Marvel called her for an invitation to pitch on the show. Obviously, she scored the job.
When director Kat Coiro came on board after Gao, she relied on her husband’s childhood comic book collection for research. She grew up a She-Hulk comic fan, but her issues were long gone. Her husband’s books were neatly preserved in his parent’s basement. They spent the early days of COVID rummaging and reading through his longboxes.
She-Hulk’s Transformation has a Fruity Inspiration
According to executive producer Wendy Jacobson, Jennifer Walters’ fluid transformation into her She-Hulk form was inspired by a time-lapse video of a strawberry ripening. They spent a tremendous amount of time watching hundreds of transformation sequences in Marvel movies as well as various other flicks. The VFX crew wasn’t necessarily satisfied with what had come before. They saw a natural shape and color change in the strawberry time-lapse. Nothing alien about it, so they went with it.
As explained by executive producer Victoria Alonso, the She-Hulk animation was not simple motion capture. Tatiana Maslany’s frame is so different from She-Hulk’s frame that digital animators frequently had to tame the actor’s movements. Maslany’s natural inclination while playing a scene would have her gesticulating rapidly, but when those movements were translated to She-Hulk, they read as extremely awkward. The CGI artists would come in behind and remove or alter them in some fashion.
The MCU Needs More Sex
Jessica Gao shares many of the same feelings as MCU fans. Prior to She–Hulk, the Marvel movies rarely dabbled in sex, and when they did, they did so in a very chaste way. Gao’s mission was to bring S-E-X back to superhero storytelling. “Why does no one have a love life in the MCU?” she asks to the camera. “People have love lives! I was very excited to be able to have that on our show.”
The hope is that She–Hulk will kick down that barrier, and we’ll see more hook-ups and romance with these Marvel characters. Relationship status and struggle are such critical aspects of the Marvel Comics soap opera. To ignore the highs and lows of dating and married life is to ignore a major section of what makes these stories so damn compelling and relatable.
Charlie Cox is Looking Out for Daredevil
All season long, folks wondered, “When’s Daredevil showing up?” In Episode 8, he finally does, and it’s a beautiful blessing. During his first days back in character, Charlie Cox quietly had to correct Kat Coiro regarding Daredevil’s extra sensory abilities. Matt Murdock is blind; he cannot see, even if his powers make it look like he can see. In one sequence, Coiro explained to Cox, “this is when they look at each other,” and the actor sheepishly corrected her language. Then, he went into a history lesson.
Cox worries that reiterating Daredevil’s superpower rules comes off as condescending, but everyone around him seems to think it’s rather adorable. No one is happier to have him back under the cowl than Cox. He was utterly floored when he first saw the gold redesign of the costume, which harkens back to the very early days of the comic book. Cox knew those colors would mean so much to the fanbase, which he now firmly inserts himself into.
Kevin Feige Didn’t Want A Marvel Movie Ending
Originally, the She–Hulk finale included a much more traditional superhero brawl. There was no big blue beam of light in the sky, but there were lots of CGI Hulks smashing, smashing, smashing. It was Kevin Feige who pointed out to the staff that She–Hulk was not like any other MCU property. So, why were they trying to force it to be one? And Feige was the first to consider She-Hulk busting through the Disney+ menu screen, smashing the fourth wall.
Feige couldn’t condone his signature baseball cap placed atop the K.E.V.I.N. artificial intelligence system, revealed to be the boss pulling the MCU strings in the final episode. Gao couldn’t believe Feige would fight her on the detail, considering all the wackiness the producer had already approved, but they eventually found their compromise. As you can see in the show, the art department came up with the robotic visor hanging over K.E.V.I.N.’s lenses which somewhat replicates Feige’s look. Relief returned to the Marvel offices quickly afterward. Phew.
Assembled: The Making of She–Hulk is now streaming on Disney+.