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the agony booth
Movie Review
She-Hulk XXX: An Axel Braun Parody (2013)
She-Hulk XXX: : An Axel Braun Parody (2013)

By now, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about the comments that screenwriter David S. Goyer made last week on the Scriptnotes podcast. Goyer, the writer of Kickboxer 2, Demonic Toys, Blade: Trinity, some other movies, as well as the upcoming Batman v. Superman v. Brown v. Board of Education, was part of a panel of screenwriters discussing hypothetical reboots of various comic book characters.

The subject of the Hulk came up, which then morphed into a discussion of She-Hulk, who host Craig Mazin (writer of two classic films of his own) derisively referred to as “Slut-Hulk”, saying she only existed to “appeal sexistly to ten-year-old boys”.

This prompted Goyer to take things a step further, saying She-Hulk was merely “the extension of the male power fantasy” that is the Hulk, in that “She-Hulk is the chick you could fuck if you were Hulk”. He went on to refer to her as “a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could fuck,” and also added that she “was like Chyna from the WWE.”

Given that Hulk and She-Hulk are first cousins and not likely to fuck (putting aside a certain ill-conceived tale in the Incredible Hulk 2000 annual), and given Goyer’s general attitude towards comic book characters (he also implied you’d have to be a virgin to know who the Martian Manhunter is), it’s pretty obvious he’s never actually read a comic featuring She-Hulk. Going by his mention of Chyna, it’s clear most of his knowledge of She-Hulk comes from when Chyna played the character in Vivid’s 2013 hardcore porn She-Hulk XXX: An Axel Braun Parody.

In light of that, I think there’s no better way to understand his comments (which, it bears noting, are coming from Warner Brothers’ star screenwriter in charge of all their superhero properties) than by taking a (mostly) safe for work look at what appears to be his favorite film.

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She-Hulk creator Stan Lee has already weighed in, declaring Goyer a “nut” for even suggesting She-Hulk was intended as a love interest for the Hulk, though he doesn’t touch upon the real reason she was created: At the time, the Incredible Hulk TV series was airing on CBS, and there were fears that the producers of the show would come up with a female version of the Hulk before Marvel did, and thus have sole ownership of the character.

The first issue of Savage She-Hulk (scripted by Lee) had Bruce Banner paying a visit to his (heretofore unmentioned) cousin Jennifer Walters, a somewhat shy and reserved defense attorney living in L.A. Eventually, he confesses to her that he’s the Hulk and he’s on the run from the military, and she gives him a place to hide. At the same time, she reveals she’s stumbled onto evidence incriminating a mob boss named Nicholas Trask.

Naturally, when they get to her house, two of Trask’s men open fire on them. Jennifer survives but is badly wounded, so to save her life, Bruce gives her a transfusion of his own blood, because apparently a blood transfusion is something one guy can just set up on the fly all by himself. This results in Jennifer getting a milder case of Bruce’s condition, turning into the She-Hulk when she gets upset or angry, though in her case, maintaining her intelligence after the transformation, and eventually learning how to control it.

Her first comic only lasted 25 issues, but she continued to make guest appearances over the years. She later joined the Avengers, and then the Fantastic Four, and headlined two more series of her own. Both were critically acclaimed, and She-Hulk is now widely considered to be one of Marvel’s most well-rounded female superheroes, which is the main reason why Goyer’s comments touched off so much anger.

Still, he’s right to some extent, in that She-Hulk’s sex appeal has always been front and center, even more so than a typical comic book heroine. Readers have been lusting over She-Hulk for decades (what is it about guys and green-skinned women? She-Hulk, Orion slave girls, Twi’leks... what’s that fetish about, exactly?), which is why when she showed up in Vivid’s Avengers XXX: A Porn Parody played by former pro wrestler Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, she was an instant hit. Personally, I find Chyna more horrifying than hot, but apparently there are lots of guys into her, or at least curious enough to want to watch her get banged while covered in green body paint.

Director Axel Braun wasted no time getting Chyna into a spinoff movie, the creatively titled She Hulk XXX: An Axel Braun Parody. These aren’t Chyna’s first forays into adult films, of course; in 2004, she appeared in 1 Night in China, billed as a leaked “sex tape” like the Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian videos, but which was really just an amateur, homemade porn shopped around to various companies by Laurer and her ex-fiancée.

A second homemade film followed, and then her first professionally produced porn, titled Backdoor to Chyna, a play on words that makes no sense. Personally, I would have called it Drilling a Hole to Chyna. And that’s why I’m far too creative to work in the porn industry.

Or maybe “Only Nixon Can Go to Chyna’s Backdoor”.

And that brings us to She-Hulk XXX: An Axel Braun Parody. We open in a hospital room, where a woman (Gracie Glam) wakes up in a hospital bed and sees a man sitting at her bedside. He notices she’s awake and says, “Jennifer Walters? Detective Conway.” This script is a model of economical exposition.

He informs her she was shot, and wants to know “why a pretty attorney like you got shot in the back”. Because the first thing a woman wants to hear when she’s coming out of a coma is flattery.

Originally, it sounded like Jennifer was blaming the attack on someone named “Tressman”, but after listening to it six or seven times, I think she’s actually saying “Trask’s men”. Honestly, there are only about ten lines in this whole scene, but the actors blow through them in such monotone voices that I can barely figure out what’s going on.

The detective tells her that was she was given a blood transfusion and then “dropped off”, and Jennifer drowsily goes, “Bruce?” The detective wants to know all about this “Bruce” character, and with that, we go to a flashback.

In the flashback, Jennifer meets with a district attorney named Tower (presumably Blake Tower from the comics, a Daredevil side character who eventually became She-Hulk’s boss). Suddenly, this porn turns into an episode of Law & Order as Jennifer tries to get Tower to agree to an immunity deal for her client. He’s hesitant, so she dutifully gets down on her knees and says, “I bet I can close this deal!”

And so, the gears of the criminal justice system turn as the two of them have a lengthy sex scene. Just out of curiosity, is this part of the story she’s telling to Detective Conway in the present?

Cut to the aftermath of the sex, as Jennifer sits in her office and reapplies her lipstick. She gets an unexpected visit from her cousin Bruce Banner (Richie Calhoun, star of many, many other porn parodies), who says he needs her help.

“Have you ever heard of the Hulk?” he asks. Eventually, he says the reason they can never catch the Hulk is because he transforms into a regular guy. Removing his glasses, he adds, “A scientist.”

Hilariously, Jennifer just sighs upon hearing the news that her cousin can turn into a seven-foot-tall green rage monster. He says he’s being hunted by the government and is in great danger. Jennifer says she knows what danger is like, because there’s a “crime mob” currently after her. And while this dialogue may sound clunky, it’s actually pretty close to what’s in the original comic.

When he hears about the “crime mob” after her, Bruce asks, “Do you have... protection?” And considering this is allegedly a porn “parody”, you’d think this line would be played for laughs, but nope. Like all recent films carrying the “porn parody” label, this movie is deadly serious. Jennifer simply says she’s going to help him, and we fade out. And with the weird vibe between them, you might think Jennifer is interested in “helping” him in another way, but thankfully that never happens. Even Vivid has enough sense not to include any cousin-fucking.

And then it’s back to the hospital, meaning we’ve skipped over the mob attack and the blood transfusion and anything else that would have taken time and effort to film. Two mob guys are in the hospital waiting room (you know they’re “mob guys” because they’re wearing sunglasses), and they get a nurse (Tara Lynn Foxx) to distract the police officer standing guard outside of Jennifer’s room.

Naturally, this distraction involves the nurse flirting with the cop by pretending to drop something in front of him, because there’s nothing sexier than a woman bending over in loose-fitting scrubs. She then gets the cop into a room where they’ve thrown up a few token x-ray light boxes, and then they have sex. Yep, this is definitely the sort of thing I look for in a superhero porn parody: a nameless nurse character getting it on with a nameless cop character.

After this lengthy sex scene is over, we go back in time to the mob guys taking advantage of the distraction (I assume we’ve gone back in time, and they weren’t just standing around for fifteen minutes) to break into Jennifer’s room. They try to inject her with something, but she uses incredibly bad CGI effects to transform into a giant green Chyna.

She-Hulk fights off the mob guys, growls like a lion, and then jumps out of a window in a spectacularly shitty green-screen shot.

She wanders aimlessly around the green-screen set for a while, then morphs back into Jennifer, who goes, “What the fuck am I gonna do now?” Luckily, the answer appears to her when she spots a poster advertising that Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman are “appearing in Los Angeles” right now. And they’re presumably wearing costumes reused from the Fantastic Four porn parody that must have been made at some point.

Cut to a hotel room, where Reed Richards (Ryan Driller) is staring into a microscope (or something), while Sue Storm (Alexis Ford) complains about how they’re supposed to be on vacation and all Reed wants to do is work. Oh, and Sue is invisible right now for no reason. And the invisibility effect amounts to a barely perceptible woman-shaped patch of lightness in the middle of the screen.

There’s a knock on the door, and it’s Jennifer, looking for help. We fade out and immediately cut to her in the hotel room in She-Hulk mode, already wearing her trademark purple and white leotard. Where did she get that? Reed is examining a vial of her blood (and by “examining”, I mean he’s basically just staring at it a lot) while Sue gets grumpy that Reed will be spending all his time on this.

She-Hulk apologizes for “ruining the evening”, but Sue says, “You haven’t. Unless you say no.” And those awkward looks they’re giving each other can only mean one thing: it’s time for a lesbian scene between She-Hulk and Sue Storm.

As they make out, you can see plenty of spots they missed on Chyna when they were applying the green body makeup. Also, the makeup is rubbing off on Sue’s skin as they go down on each other. But I can’t say I expected more; it’s not like this is Mystique in the X-Men films.

Afterwards, Jennifer (and no, I have no idea why she changed back) gets in her car, where a guy in a green bodysuit pops up from the back seat and chloroforms her. When she wakes up, she’s strapped to a table while other guys in green bodysuits and yellow hoods begin experimenting on her.

Finally, we find out that these are minions of Viper, AKA Madame Hydra (Jennifer Dark). Has She-Hulk ever fought Madame Hydra in the comics? Because this is kind of coming out of nowhere. Actually, the only reason I know it’s Madame Hydra is because of the closing credits; there’s definitely no mention of HYDRA in the actual film.

It seems Madame Hydra is experimenting on She-Hulk in an attempt to recreate the Super-Soldier formula, because that’s a concept that completely makes sense. Also, didn’t She-Hulk appear for the first time a couple of hours ago at the hospital? How did Madame Hydra already set up a whole scientific operation based around kidnapping her?

Madame Hydra then has sex with one of her minions, a guy who keeps his green bodysuit on the entire time. Honestly, the only entertaining part of this scene is how she starts off speaking in a thick German accent that completely disappears once the sex starts.

The scene ends, and then we go back to Jennifer still being held down. Two of the minions intend to “initiate the transformation”, and then we fade out to random screams. When we fade back in, She-Hulk is coming out of a door, apparently having already defeated all the minions (in what I’m sure was a spectacular action sequence that was only cut for time) and made her escape.

She randomly runs into Hawkeye (played by Eric Masterson, who also played Hawkeye in Avengers XXX, and whose career has really hit the skids since That ‘70s Show). We get the closest thing to humor this movie has to offer when she mistakenly calls him “Nighthawk”. Without ever explaining why he happens to be hanging around outside of a HYDRA base, Hawkeye tells her he’s thinking about starting up a “west coast branch of the Avengers”, and that he could “use a little muscle”.

The whole time, he’s awkwardly eyeing her up and down, and apparently She-Hulk likes the attention, and can’t resist a chubby guy in an ill-fitting costume, because she then pulls him inside.

They have sex, and let’s just say the actor playing Hawkeye is not physically impressive in any way. Also, it would appear that Chyna does anal in this scene, though with the green body paint and the general weirdness of Joanie Laurer’s anatomy, it’s actually kind of hard to tell.

The sex scene wraps up, and I bet you’re all eager to see She-Hulk continue to take on HYDRA, get her revenge on Trask for almost killing her, and then seek out Reed Richards to cure her of being She-Hulk. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the movie.

I’m dead serious. Hawkeye finishes up (with the line, “Can you not tell Mockingbird about this?”) and then the credits immediately start rolling. Frankly, this is pretty much par for the course for Axel Braun porn parodies. Watch enough of these, and you will no longer be shocked at how little effort is put into them. The entire film seems to be built around “What actors/costumes/sets are available for the next two hours or so?”

I’m probably not the best person to be judging this movie, because I find this kind of high-profile professionally produced porn to be horrendously boring, but this one seems pretty dull and unappealing even by those low standards. I guess you might get some entertainment value out of seeing X-rated cosplay, but as always, even that gets old after the first five minutes. In other words, this is one porn video you don’t need to rush out and illegally download.

But hey, at least David Goyer appreciated it. We can only hope that Batman v. Superman v. Plessy v. Ferguson contains even a small fraction of the genius on display here.

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