What You Need To Remember Before Watching She-Hulk

On August 17, the Savage She-Hulk is smashing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" stars Emmy-winning Tatiana Maslany in the titular role. Known for her unmatched acting range in "Orphan Black," Maslany will bring her transformative skills to Jennifer Walters as she adjusts to her life as She-Hulk.

Yes, Jennifer is the cousin of Bruce Banner/Hulk. But more importantly, Jennifer Walters is a top-notch and highly powerful lawyer. Based on the trailer for "She-Hulk," Marvel's nine-episode series will explore how her prowess in the courtroom will change the lives and rights of superheroes forever — including hers — in 30-minute installments.

Don't go into "She-Hulk" expecting a battle-focused take on superhero rights like "Captain America: Civil War" or the gritty-noir courtroom drama of "Daredevil." At its heart, "She-Hulk" is a procedural comedy series about the life of Jennifer — her successes and failures — as the 30-something year old navigates having Hulk abilities with a demanding career. "She-Hulk" directors Kat Coiro ("Dead to Me") and Anu Valia ("Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens") have a history of balancing feminist sensibilities with snappy humor and are a fitting match for "She-Hulk" creator Jessica Gao's ("Rick & Morty," "Silicon Valley") punchy writing.

Considering the MCU's 29 films, seven television series, and over 80 years of Marvel Comics, it can be tricky to know how to approach a Marvel property these days. Here's everything that you'll need to know (or watch ahead of time) to be as prepared as Jennifer Walters.

Who is She-Hulk?

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Buscema, Jennifer Walters entered the world of Marvel Comics in the 1980s with "The Savage She-Hulk." Like the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe series, Jennifer is Bruce Banner's cousin. After a crime boss puts Jennifer in dire straits, Bruce gives her an emergency blood transfusion. Bruce's gamma-irradiated blood gives her Hulk-like powers, but she maintains her intelligence, personality, and most of her human appearance in She-Hulk form. Plus, she's witty as hell.

Since she's also a skilled attorney, She-Hulk splits her time between helping superhero groups like the Avengers and Fantastic Four with being a legal asset to superheroes and mutants alike. She once even defended Morbius against murder charges. Depending on which comic run you pick up, She-Hulk may or may not revert to the form of Jennifer Walters. In later runs, she decides to stay in She-Hulk form permanently. 

MCU fans curious to read more about her will want to start with 2022's "She-Hulk," created by writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Rogê Antônio. Based on the trailer for "She-Hulk," the MCU show seems to be lifting its modern sense of humor, costumes, and rumored fourth-wall-breaking premise from this relatively new run. However, it's worth diving into the 60 issues of "The Sensational She-Hulk," as it's the run that first saw She-Hulk addressing the reader in comics to comment on how others underestimate her way before Deadpool did.

When does She-Hulk take place in the MCU timeline?

Marvel Studios has yet to confirm when "She-Hulk" takes place in the MCU timeline, but the show's trailer points to two possible directions. "She-Hulk" either takes place right before the events of "Avengers: Endgame" — showing Earth-616 during the Blip years — or months after the events of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

During the "She-Hulk" trailer, we see Smart Hulk, a harmonious version of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) that acceptingly merged his mean, green, and scientific self into one form by the end of "Avengers: Endgame." But the Smart Hulk we see in the upcoming Marvel series doesn't have the hand scars he got from wearing the Infinity Gauntlet in "Endgame." This image suggests that either Hulk has yet to snap his fingers to bring half the world back, or he's healed from these injuries because enough time passed. 

However, an end credit scene in "Shang-Chi" shows Bruce Banner in an arm-sling. If Banner chose to revert to his human form for good, this scene furthers the theory that "She-Hulk" is set pre-Thanos takedown. Although Bruce, like in the comics, could have shifted back to Smart Hulk just to help Jennifer. 

Likely the biggest timeline clue for "She-Hulk" is the sight of a human Abomination in the show's trailer. Abomination was last seen stuck in beast form and training under Wong (Benedict Wong) in "Shang-Chi." This reveal suggests that, with time, Wong taught him to control his form.

What's happened to Hulk so far in the MCU?

The Jolly Green Goliath made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in "The Incredible Hulk." In this 2008 film, Bruce (played by Edward Norton at the time) has already tested his gamma-radiation research on himself and is unable to control the Hulk. Despite hiding in Brazil, a special-ops task force tracks Bruce down to weaponize his research. After defeating them, Bruce recommits to finding a cure for the Hulk, convinced that anger management training can subdue the beast.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) then finds Bruce in India and convinces him to become an Avenger. For years, Bruce uses Hulk's rage to serve Earth's Mightiest Heroes — playing a vital part in saving New York from the Chitauri invasion. Eventually, Hulk rebels against being used as a weapon. He refuses to come out on command, as we see play out in Taika Waititi's "Thor: Ragnarok." In Waititi's film, the audience hears how lonely the Big Green Guy has felt. Bruce apologizes to Hulk and they help save all Asgardians from Ragnarok. However, Thanos then attacks the Asgardian ships and almost kills Hulk. Heimdall (Idris Elba) uses the Bifrost Bridge to transport Hulk to earth, where Bruce warns Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) of Thanos' arrival. In "Avengers: Endgame," Bruce scientifically fuses himself with Hulk so the two can operate harmoniously. Smart Hulk, the only one powerful enough to wear Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) Infinity Gauntlet, then brings half the world back from Thanos' snap. 

Notably, Bruce had a romance with Black Widow, who died in "Endgame."

What's happened to Wong so far in the MCU?

In "Doctor Strange," audiences first met Wong, the trusted librarian of Kamar-Taj. He played an integral part in helping Stephen Strange with his magical studies, eventually aiding him on his quest to become Sorcerer Supreme. Notably, the pair stopped the evil Dormammu from entering Earth's realm. Wong and Doctor Strange then decide to live in and protect the New York Sanctum and its mythic artifacts. When Bruce Banner crashes into the New York Sanctum to warn the pair of Thanos' impending arrival and his infinity stone quest, it's Wong who explains what these mythic stones are and why everyone should be worried.

After Doctor Strange disappears post-Blip, Wong becomes the Sorcerer Supreme. Wong then used his Inter-Dimensional portal talents with Doctor Strange in "Avengers: Endgame" to assemble the army the Avengers needed to defeat Thanos. 

Following "Endgame," Wong is next seen participating in Golden Daggers Club cage matches in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings." He's shown as an impressive fighter, who even takes out the gamma-fueled Abomination, and it's implied that Wong has been coaching him off-screen to control his rage issues. Wong helps Shang-Chi and Katy Chen learn about the mythic rings and eventually summons them to Kamar-Taj for help at the end of the film, though we don't yet know why.

In "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness," Wong and Strange fight side-by-side to stop Scarlet Witch from destroying the multiverse.

Who is Abomination?

Bruce Banner's main antagonist in "The Incredible Hulk" is Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). As a former British Royal Marines special ops commander, Emil is recruited by Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) to capture Hulk. He's dosed with a version of the super soldier serum so that he can survive all Hulk encounters. However, Emil becomes addicted to the power and takes it a dangerous step further. He injects himself with Banner's gamma-irradiated blood, transforming into Abomination. Unable to control himself, Abomination rampages throughout Harlem, NY. By the end of the film, Hulk defeats him, and Abomination enters S.H.I.E.L.D's custody.

In "The Consultant," a Marvel one-shot scene that was released on the Blu-ray for "Thor," it's revealed that Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) almost recruited Abomination to the Avengers team. However, he, Tony Stark, and others decide against it due to his unpredictable nature, which paved the way for the Hulk to join the team instead.

In "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," MCU fans see Wong and Abomination face-off. Wong wins, telling Abomination after the match to "start controlling those punches like we practiced." The two share a coach and mentee-like bond, with Wong offering him a cup of juice and Abomination grunting in reply. 

In the "She-Hulk" trailer, Emil appears in human form in a seemingly power-blocking cell and waving to Jennifer. Since she heads a superhuman legal division, it seems like Emil needs Jennifer's help – possibly for what happened to Harlem in "The Incredible Hulk."

Who is Titania?

In "The Good Place," Jameela Jamil portrays Tahani Al-Jamil, a competitive character who desperately wants to best her younger, accomplished sister. While she eventually grows out of that, Marvel Comics' Titania resembles that power-hungry version of Tahini.

Mary MacPherran, known by the nickname of Skeeter due to her mosquito-like stature, lives in a world of superheroes. She dreams of becoming superpowered. Once, she even pretended she was Spider-Woman to attend a VIP party. Unfortunately, the real Spider-Woman appeared at the same party to save the crowd from an evil threat, exposing Mary's lies and need for attention.

Eventually, Mary comes across Doctor Doom, someone who promises her power if she serves him. Of course, she agrees and gains super strength, speed, and durability. She fell in love with the Absorbing Man, another villain, and married him. Together, they fought Spider-Man, the X-Men, and She-Hulk. Of all her early battles, Titania sees her loss to She-Hulk as her most regrettable failure. She fights She-Hulk (and loses) time and time again, and her obsession to beat She-Hulk leads her to obtain the Power Stone. 

During Titania's last battle with She-Hulk, she almost kills her. However, She-Hulk ultimately fakes her death, which ends with Titania imprisoned in miniature form at Pym Experimental Penitentiary Number One's facility.

In the "She-Hulk" trailer, Titania is seen blasting into a courtroom, suggesting she's fighting for the spotlight again.

Who is Dennis Buck Bukowski?

In July, Marvel Studios released additional official stills for "She-Hulk," confirming an essential character for the upcoming series within its caption. In the courtroom photo above, Jennifer Walters is standing near Dennis "Buck" Bukowski. Portrayed in the series by actor Drew Matthews, Buck is a criminal prosecutor who made his Marvel Comics debut in "Savage She-Hulk #2." He would often go head-to-head with Jennifer Walters in the courtroom and was known to brag about his victories. 

Tragically, the two clashed most notably when both of their actions led to the death of Jilly Stevens, Jennifer's best friend. Jill borrowed Jennifer's car, which someone rigged to harm She-Hulk. While in She-Hulk form, Jennifer chased after Jill to save her. Unbeknownst to her, Buck saw She-Hulk chasing Jennifer's car. He thought if he crashed into She-Hulk, he'd save Jennifer's life. Unfortunately, this led to Jill's death and the two hating each other.

There's no further confirmation on what role Buck will play in the MCU show or if a version of Jill's storyline will appear during the nine-episode series. However, it's most likely that some kind of tragic misunderstanding between Buck and Jennifer will arise to fuel their antagonistic relationship in and out of the courtroom.

How She-Hulk stands apart from other MCU properties

While "She-Hulk" star Tatiana Maslany hasn't revealed much about Jennifer Walters' journey in the upcoming MCU series, she has spoken about how vital the show is to increase women's representation in the male-dominated world of superheroes. During an interview with Empire, Maslany shared, "She really is the antithesis of most superhero narratives." The "She-Hulk" trailer teased how the show will tackle gender dynamics in the world of superheroes when Hulk reminds Jennifer that fear and anger bring out the Hulk. She replies, "Those are like the baseline of any woman just existing."

Maslany also discussed how her character's job will affect character dynamics in the show. "She's in a career that's male-dominated and incredibly vicious and hierarchal," she added. "When she's heading this superhuman firm, that's where we get some really fun characters that she's either defending or in opposition of. It's this really absurd take on a legal show." Unlike most Marvel properties that make villains and heroes easily identifiable, "She-Hulk" seems to be comically examining the murky ethics involved when wielding superpowers in the real world — including its inevitable casualties and unfortunate misunderstandings.

What TV or movies you need to watch before watching She-Hulk

When Marvel boss Kevin Feige released the official premise for "She-Hulk," he teased a "case of the week" structure for the show. Based on that setup, someone could technically come into this series with no prior knowledge of the MCU and still have a ball. After all, this is Jennifer Walters' MCU debut and the storylines (that we know of) don't connect to larger MCU arcs. By all accounts, "She-Hulk" is a lighthearted and witty origin story. 

But a downside of coming into this series cold is that viewers won't understand the tensions between Hulk and Bruce Banner and might be confused about Wong and Abomination's backstories. The "She-Hulk" trailer also teased a lot of Hulk and She-Hulk smashing things and discussing their differing perspectives about their transformations. Considering those two factors, it feels essential to spend plenty of time with the Hulk, starting with 2008's "The Incredible Hulk," where Abomination makes his MCU debut. "Avengers," the first time Mark Ruffalo's Hulk appears, is an essential watch as is "Thor: Ragnarok." Additionally, "Doctor Strange" and "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" will give more depth to Wong.

More ambitious fans will want to revisit "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Avengers: Infinity War," and "Avengers: Endgame" to better grasp Banner's journey and how the MCU has previously handled superheroes not using their powers responsibly. Additionally, the events of "WandaVision" might play a part in how Jennifer approaches defending superhumans.