The timing of “Exclusive” couldn’t be more perfect, debuting just two days after the Incredible Hulk became America’s new sweetheart in The Avengers. None of Joss Whedon’s recovering-addict persona for Bruce Banner appears here; in fact, there’s no Bruce Banner at all, but we do get plenty of Hulk smashing New York City. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all we get this episode, which is one of this show’s most generic stories yet.
Mary Jane scores an exclusive interview with Spider-Man for her entry in the Daily Bugle’s “You Are The News” contest, and almost the entire episode is presented through MJ’s camera lens. Those of you that despise the cutaways will appreciate this gimmick, and Spidey is forced to deliver all his one-liners and exposition without flashing to chibi versions of the characters. The idea is to cast Hulk as the monster in a Cloverfield-like scenario, but his design on this series is more 1978 The Incredible Hulk than 2012 Avengers. His look could be a lot more exaggerated, and it would help the character look more imposing and alien. It would also create a stronger contrast between the Jade Giant and the itsy-bitsy wall-crawler.
This episode is just a long fight scene between Spider-Man, Hulk, and a so-generic-it’s-not-even-named energy monster, and it’s disappointing that this is Mary Jane’s first spotlight story. Sure, it’s nice to see her young reporter spirit, but she’s really just there as narration. At least “Venom” actually delved into Peter and Harry’s relationship; “Exclusive” barely even addresses that, except for a few scenes that establish that the two are friends. There’s no hint of attraction between MJ and Peter (or Spider-Man), which is a missed opportunity to add some depth to their connection. After seeing how well shows like Young Justice and Legend Of Korra incorporate romance to add emotion to their stories, this episode is even more lackluster.
There’s lots of punching this episode, but not much pathos. There’s one moment that stuck out to me, though, in the middle of the fight. When Mary Jane asks Peter how he’s not scared out of his mind, he replies, “I didn’t say I wasn’t. This is completely scary. Doesn’t change what has to be done.” I wish we could see a little more of that Peter in this show. It’s surprising how little Uncle Ben has been brought up on this series, and considering Ben’s influence on Peter would add some dimension to the show. I’m not asking for an angst-ridden Spider-Man, just one who is still dealing with a loved one’s death. Uncle Ben remains a cipher, rather than an integral part of Peter's life. The Ultimate Spider-Man comic set itself apart by making the reader care about every person in Peter’s world, but the show hasn’t had that same level of character development.
S.H.I.E.L.D. ultimate enters the picture to take down Hulk, and they treat him like a hostile. Is he not an Avenger in this universe? He’s treated like just another rampaging monster, and overall, S.H.I.E.L.D. comes across as rather incompetent this episode. Spider-Man devises the solution to their energy monster problem, overloading the creature’s charge until it can’t contain itself and self-destructs. Science prevails where giant green fists fail, with Mary Jane’s camera battery providing the last bit of charge needed to destroy the energy monster, and she’s nearly crushed by debris after saving the day.
With Hulk’s help, Spidey saves her and gives her the camera’s memory card, which he snatched just before tossing her equipment. She chooses not to enter the contest, because she knows that Jameson won’t paint Spidey as a hero, opting instead to post her exclusive video online. Jameson sees the footage anyway and sends her a new video camera, and Peter and MJ assume this is proof that the Daily Bugle pundit has a heart. He’s probably just trying to get on her good side, so that she’ll bring him material that he can twist into whatever anti-Spider sentiment he’s spewing that week.
- SHIELD is really bad at securing an area because Mary Jane catches a lot of sensitive material with her camcorder.
- Avengers Hulk moment: When Hulk pats Spidey on the back, it sends him shooting forward. People who saw the movie will know what that reminded me of.
- This week’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #10 was fantastic. I really hope they find a way to incorporate Miles Morales into this series if it runs for a while, even though they probably won’t kill off Peter Parker to do it.
- “Three words: Nose. Hair. Trimmer.”
- “You can’t just let Jersey go?”