She-Hulk: Is This Not Real Magic?

Hey, watch, I can do magic, too!

Marvel’s She-Hulk series has established itself with an emphasis on comedy, which can be tricky with superhero shows. There is a certain amount of absurdity in some aspects of the genre, and the series is embracing that. She-Hulk (although she’d probably prefer you call her Jen) routinely breaks the fourth wall (sorry, Deadpool fans, she did it first) and offers some amusing commentary on what’s happening around her. We get more of Wong, the Sorcerer Supreme, and a goofball would-be magician with an almost familiar name in “Is This Not Real Magic?”

The episode opens with a really cheesy magic show done by a guy with an almost-familiar name. “Donny Blaze” is really close to Johnny Blaze, the mortal host for Ghost Rider, the spirit of vengeance. Depending on who you talk to, this is either a nod to some of the pre-Marvel Studios movies, or a subtle hint that Johnny Blaze does, in fact, exist in the MCU and this idiot is trying to cash in on the name of the famous motorcycle stunt rider. Considering what we see in his act and his attitude towards magic and self-promotion, I wouldn’t bet against the second. This scene also introduces an amusing secondary character named Madisynn King, and shows Blaze using a very familiar-looking artefact. On the heels of this is a very entertaining scene involving Madisynn, returning guest star Wong, a pact with a demon, and spoilers for the Sopranos.

After the title card, Jen starts off with more fourth-wall breaking dialog about guest-stars and Twitter, until her father shows up and plays the (possibly over) protective parent. They disagree on how to follow up on last episode’s attack by the Wrecking Crew, and we see some of the special preparations Jen needs to make to go to work. At work, Jen deals with a dating ap and fashion advice from Nikki before Wong interrupts, wanting to hire Jen.

After Wong’s meeting with Jen goes in various directions that are going to be hard to make work in court, our titular hero and her best friend Nikki take some work to a bar, where Nikki critiques Jen’s dating profile and they get randomly hit on by an annoying guy. Nikki also offers some entertaining commentary on the She-Hulk name. Later, Jen and Wong meet with Donny and his manager, which produces nothing useful.

For what I believe is a first in the MCU, the next few scenes are Jen meeting people for dates. Suffice to say it goes poorly. Moving on to court, Jennifer and Wong’s case has some issues, in part because their best and evidently only, witness, is Madisynn. I’d say her heart is in the right place, but her brain isn’t necessarily a smooth-running machine. Her testimony doesn’t really help the case, and leaves Jen and Wong scrambling for what to do next. Well, Jen, really, since Wong and Madisynn have apparently become friends and go off together. The powerful, dedicated mystic and the party girl really shouldn’t work together, but there’s some really good chemistry there.

At home, Jen shows she really doesn’t have much of a life, or much success on her dating ap. Finally, she gives in to one of Nikki’s suggestions and makes a different dating profile. The immediate results give us some more direct-to-the-audience commentary. This leads to another dating montage, although the last one seems to go quite well. We cut back and forth for a bit between Jen’s date and Blaze on stage again. His desperation to win over the audience goes about as well as you’d think, and problems start multiplying. In desperation, Blaze turns to Wong for help, and the Sorcerer Supreme reluctantly comes to the annoying magician’s aid.

Jen’s date night gets interrupted as Wong summons her for help, but not of the legal kind. I get it’s her show, but given his connections, I’d think there’d be others he could call on. Not that She-Hulk isn’t powerful, she clearly is, but she’s both inexperienced and not exactly enthusiastic about the superhero side of things. The fight goes well, with She-Hulk’s raw muscle and Wong’s mystic skill. They even wring a concession from Blaze and his idiot manager. Also, in a change from the way most superhero outings go, Jen gets back in time to continue her date, not get served a bunch of angst over her hero life costing her things in her personal life. That’s a trope I’m just as happy they didn’t decide to dive into.

The morning after shows that not even this date was perfect, as the guy has some issues, or at least preferences, that don’t work out well for Jennifer. She continues to have a bad morning when she gets some very surprising news from a character we saw earlier in the series, albeit indirectly. This is a new storyline that either hasn’t really been done in the comics, or done rarely. One way this has been handled in the books was something called a Title Fight, but I suspect the way this works out will be very different. The closing credits show some amusing bits about Wong taking things into his own hands, and a tiny bit of Madisynn’s adventures. There’s also a very entertaining mid-credit scene that, from what I read, was unscripted, with the director just letting the two actors involved go for it.

What I Liked: The general vibe of the show is just plain fun. I enjoy the tone they set and the different spins on the superhero world. While his appearance was short, I’m enjoying Morris, Jennifer’s father. Nikki is a great friend and supporting character, and I like her a lot. The MCU doesn’t do things by accident, so there was definitely some deliberate choice behind the “Donny Blaze” name, I just don’t know which way they’re going to go with it. And, as Jennifer herself observes, everybody loves Wong. Jennifer’s asides to the audience continue to make me smile. Wong and Madisynn were improbably great together.

What I Didn’t: Like I said elsewhere, I’m not sure Wong calling on Jennifer made the most sense, as amusing as it was. It sounds like Kamar-Taj needs a better way of keeping tabs on their students. I mean, this can’t be the first time something like this happened, although maybe the first time this particular thing went down.