Even superheroes have to do their homework.
In preparation for her role as She-Hulk (a.k.a. Jennifer Walters) in Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Tatiana Maslany knew she had quite the personal project on her hands—especially given the show's flair for Marvel Cinematic Universe references and Easter eggs.
"I definitely needed to do my research," Maslany exclusively told E! News. "I did a lot of reading of the comics initially because that felt like the best way in to specifically She-Hulk. But then I went back and watched the movies. I especially watched the ones with Mark [Ruffalo] in them and the original Hulks."
Maslany got some extra MCU home-schooling from Ruffalo himself, who co-stars in the series as Smart Hulk.
The Orphan Black alum was happy she did her due diligence, as she says, "because there's so many references, you have to be on top of what's coming next."
Not only that, She-Hulk is incredibly self-aware and often leans into meta commentary of the rabid Marvel fandom—sometimes making jokes about the show itself before fans online even get the chance.
"[Showrunner] Jessica Gao wrote a show that knew what was going to happen," Maslany explained. "It exists in this moment in our culture and is saying things about what's happening right now. When those things start happening in response to the show, the meta is unbelievable."
Ginger Gonzaga, who plays Jennifer's best friend Nikki on She-Hulk, told E! News she had "seen all the movies in the theater," but that wasn't enough.
"I was obsessed with Black Panther. I love Guardians of the Galaxy," Gonzaga said. "But I hadn't read many of the comic books. Josh Segarra [who plays Pug] and I started hoarding them off of eBay."
She wasn't kidding, either. Gonzaga showed off her stash on Twitter Aug. 17, writing: "#humblebrag Part of my vintage She Hulk comic book collection! (And a dog bone) These ones I gave to cast and crew but my collection is still stacked, fam!"
Despite the deep dive, Gonzaga had some creative leniency because her character Nikki does not appear in the She-Hulk comics.
"I'm lucky in that I play an original character," she said. "I didn't have the pressure of reading everything and making sure that I didn't eff up this character because I'm brand new. So I had a lot of freedom."
When presented with the idea that her performance might influence the next generation of Marvel fans, Gonzaga couldn't help but get emotional.
"Oh my god, I would cry. My friend was like, ‘What if there's a little Filipino girl that dresses up as Nikki for Halloween and her friend is She-Hulk,'" Gonzaga said excitedly. "All they need is a little bit of glitter and they can wear whatever they want."
The first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law drops Aug. 18 on Disney+.