‘She-Hulk’ Continues the Wong Supremacy Celebration

It's time to put Benedict Wong above the title.
She Hulk Episode 3

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. This entry explores She-Hulk Episode 3 and celebrates our most excellent Sorcerer Supreme, Wong. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.

We believe you, Jen. We really do. SheHulk is not just one of those cameos every week shows despite the contrary evidence. Sure, we’ve seen Smart Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the Abomination (Tim Roth), Wong (Benedict Wong), and Megan Thee Stallion (!!!) pop up for three episodes in a row. However, the series is so heavily focused on the point of view of Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) that we’re not really worried that these guests will run away with the show. Daredevil could be more distracting when he appears, and if Howard the Duck rolls into the offices, I could flip a lid, but I wouldn’t be too mad, either. Frankly, I’m actually counting down the seconds until our fowl friend appears.

Most importantly, Jen is totally right when she breaks the fourth wall to address our Wong-related enthusiasm. Since his first MCU appearance in Doctor Strange, Wong has quickly risen in the ranks of our most treasured faves. While Benedict Wong may not have his name above the title, the character began his life on screen as Stephen Strange’s better, and not much has changed.

Wong is not the self-centered egotist who must stumble three or four times before coming out on top. He’s the pragmatic instructor. Wong may not be the risk taker, but he’s the sensible one. Stephen Strange frequently finds the answer quicker by rushing headfirst into unknowable danger, but we get the sense that Wong would find the solution eventually.

Wong, The Sorcerer Supreme

The way Benedict Wong plays the character along the sidelines has endeared us to him. As his cameos increase, appearing in Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, ShangChi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, SpiderMan: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and now SheHulk, the more we must acknowledge the Wong supremacy. Supporting character today, title character tomorrow? SheHulk is making a strong case for such a future to be so.

We already knew that when half the people of Earth got blipped, including Stephen Strange, the good doctor lost his position as the Sorcerer Supreme, and Wong took over. In ShangChi, we witnessed Wong fight against the Abomination in an underground fight club. The scene mostly operated as a rad background for the larger battle being waged between Shang-Chi and the Mandarin’s goons. We didn’t quite understand what Wong was doing there.

SheHulk Episode 3 highlights why Wong would bust the Abomination from prison only to wail on him for a bit. Unlike Stephen Strange, Wong does not have an innate confidence. He’s not a fake-it-till-you-make-it dude. He’s a practice-makes-perfect fellow. He’s the student who became the teacher.

Get Yourself an Education

In this way, Wong is like Jennifer Walters. He’s spent a lifetime studying. He’s ready for the big Kamar-Taj corner office, and he’s not going to give it up because the last guy returned from oblivion. Wong knows he lacks Stephen’s foolish assurance. If his new gig means he’ll have to battle Titans like Thanos every couple of years, he needs to get into shape.

As Wong tells the Abomination’s parole board, he needed a monster to spar against to sharpen his skills. The Abomination happily obliged and willingly went back to his cell when done. Now, knowing a Thunderbolts movie is on our way, and considering how Julia Louis-Dreyfus is currently collecting MCU baddies for some unknown purpose, we can assume that the Abomination might have other motives for staying put. That’s not Wong’s problem. Yet.

The Wong we see in SheHulk is a Wong who could go toe-to-toe with Stephen Strange. We’re at a point where he could pull off what we’ve probably all suspected since his first movie appearance. He is the better sorcerer. Wong is not the naturally gifted; he’s the badass who worked really damn hard to get the promotion. He’s put in the gym hours and doesn’t care if his session with the Abomination broke a law or two. This week, the most badass SheHulk moment was when Wong bounced after that point was raised. He answers to a higher power—the world.

Wong, the Above the Title Hero We Need

Wong has been around as long as Stephen Strange. They were introduced in 1963’s Strange Tales #110, a collaboration between Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. Wong spent most of his comic book career as a stereotypical sidekick to Stephen. In recent years, thanks largely to Benedict Wong’s exceptional portrayal, the character has evolved into an equal.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness concludes with Clea (Charlize Theron) recruiting the former Sorcerer Supreme to wage war within the Dark Dimension. Those two will be busy, making kissy faces if my predictions are correct. Wong could remain in that sequel’s supporting cast, or Marvel Studios could use this opportunity to upgrade their underused, treasured asset. This week’s SheHulk (and next week’s SheHulk) clearly recognizes the growing Wong hive, and there’s little doubt of a successful and very meme-able online reception.

We will look back on SheHulk as a significant entry in Wong’s rise to stardom. He’s finally free of Stephen Strange, doin’ his job better and with little fuss. All Marvel Studios needs to do now is position him ahead of the pack a bit. Hopefully, they won’t simply slide him over to a ShangChi sequel. If they’re handing out shows to Agatha Harkness these days, Wong certainly deserves one too.

She-Hulk Episode 3 is now streaming on Disney+

Brad Gullickson: Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)