She-Hulk just referenced a serious – and problematic

The following contains spoilers for She-Hulk: Lawyer Episode 8, “Ribbit and Rip It,” which debuted October 6 on Disney+.

She-Hulk: Lawyer has never been afraid to speak out against the double standards and blatant sexism that women face in a male-centric society. Jen thinks her life is headed in the right direction in Episode 8, “Ribbit and Rip It,” which makes her wonder if a twist is brewing in the finale – and she thinks she’s the next female character to be “chilled”.

The joke might fly over some people’s heads since Jen makes so many references throughout the series. At one point or another, it’s hard to keep track of which Easter egg she’ll name next. But including such a controversial topic on a show that’s been targeted by fans as being “too wide awake” and “pushing the feminist agenda” is an interesting way to spark a conversation about fridging. Unfortunately, the refrigerator is not exactly a new concept that She-Hulk just invented on the fly and has an interesting history with DC and Marvel comics.

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What is the “fridge?”

Also known as the “women in fridges” trope, “frigging” was coined by comic book writer Gail Simone in 1999. Simone has seen a recurring trend with female characters in superhero comics. hero. The trope describes any situation in which a woman is hurt, mutilated, killed, or even disempowered to angsty men – motivating them to seek revenge or be a hero. The comic book writers have compiled a comprehensive list of female characters who fall victim to this trope on the “Women in Refrigerators” website, owned by Simone herself.

Fridging refers to an infamous 1994 incident The Green Lantern #54 where Kyle Rayner finds his girlfriend, Alexandria DeWitt, killed and stuffed in the fridge. Comic book characters can die at any time, and the trope is in no way trying to persuade writers to make female characters untouchable. Instead, it shows how many female characters have died for the sole reason of advancing a male character’s story. The trope isn’t limited to the medium of comic books, however; movies, television, and an incredible number of video games see a male character lose a female character close to them, so their grief motivates them to continue their journey. One of the most recent examples is the unintentional death of Aemma Targaryen in Dragon Housewhich attempted to portray the grim reality of the risk women take in giving birth, but instead reinforces a worn cliché that ultimately benefited her husband.

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History of Fridging in the comics

Thinking back to fridging in the comics, one of the most heinous instances of the trope stems from Batman: The Killing Joke, which depicts a traumatic and exploitative treatment of Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. In the graphic novel, the Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara and takes photos of her lying naked on the ground after the shooting. Additionally, the graphic novel never delves into how deeply affected Barbara is by the experience, but instead shows how Batman and Commissioner Gordon were traumatized by their pain.

In the context of She-Hulk: Lawyer, Daredevil’s appearance in the same fridging episode is an appeal to his own problematic past with the trope. Karen Page and Elektra, two of Daredevil’s love interests, fell victim to the trope in the comics. Karen’s drug addiction, association with pornography, HIV diagnosis and eventual death motivated the fearless man to continue his work as a vigilante. Elektra’s death at the hands of Bullseye and subsequent resurrection by the Hand prompted Daredevil to defeat the Hand and cleanse the soul of his lost love.

Although there are still many modern versions of fridging, there are examples in comics where the trope has been criticized in subversive and interesting ways. night wing #90 subverts the trope into literally fricot Barbara Gordon by loading it into a refrigerated truck. X-Force #24 sees Chronicler protest Colossus killing his lover Kayla, arguing that he shouldn’t take his agency away from her and treat her like a pawn. Although Kayla still dies, the issue was willing to explore criticism of the trope, but failed to overturn it on a meaningful level that would have allowed Kayla to live.

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Why does She-Hulk reference the trope?

After teaming up with Daredevil to take down a group of henchmen (and having a one-night stand with Man Without Fear), Jen is surprised to see the episode isn’t over. It was a satisfying conclusion, and she wonders what more the public wants from her. She makes some guesses about what might happen next since the finale has yet to air. One of those guesses is that it might be refrigerated, an appropriate reference considering She-Hulk is the most socially conscious of the various Marvel projects when it comes to feminist issues. Jen has previously pointed out the double standard women face compared to men and the outdated trend of naming female superheroes after men. It seems only fitting that she would call out the infamous chilling trope that we still see in the MCU – namely with the death of Natasha Romanoff in Avengers: Endgame and the loss and fall of Wanda Maximoff in Wanda Vision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

However, Jen probably doesn’t have to worry about being cold. She is the main character of a series that does not seek to uplift men by torturing or killing women. Victims of fridging are specifically portrayed as damsels in distress — another highly inappropriate and outdated gender trope that doesn’t work when women are cutting corners or aren’t even interested in being a hero. In fact, fridging is grounded in melodrama based on the belief that male superheroes must rise above tragedy and loss to become the heroes they were born to be. Jen has her own struggles — namely, in this episode, the Intelligencia projecting anti-She-Hulk rhetoric that includes a shameful “bitch” video of her affair with Josh — but her struggles are never used to promote righteousness. a man as a hero. However, even in a world of satire where a woman is the main character, Jen still has to actively wonder and worry about being killed and stuffed in a fridge due to rampant sexism.

The first eight episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are now available to stream on Disney+. The upcoming season finale will be released on Thursday, October 13.

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