* This review is based on the first four episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Unless you’ve been living under a gamma-radiated rock, you would have noticed that Marvel Studios has been introducing new heroes based on existing ones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There’s a new Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America, and now, another Hulk.
Or rather, a taller, leggier but no less green, gigantic superhero leaping from the comics and onto the, well, small screen as She-Hulk is finally making her Disney+ debut with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and just like the comics and her cousin, she’s pretty incredible.
First created in 1980 by comics book legends Stan Lee and John Buscema, She-Hulk aka Jennifer Walters is a shy lawyer who is deeply passionate about dispensing justice and creating a more equitable society, until she gets into a car accident and receives a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner. Maybe folks won’t like it when Banner gets angry, but for Walters, the She-Hulk persona breaks Walters out of her shell and turns her into a superhero and member of the Avengers. Since then, the heroine has become a Marvel Comics mainstay, with several popular comic runs that the writers of the Disney+ series have adapted to great strength.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law incorporates the character’s signature fourth-wall-breaking sense of humour from the comics, and sees Jen (Tatiana Maslany) suit up as an attorney specialising in superhuman-oriented legal cases. For nine episodes, viewers get a close look into the complicated life of the single 30-something Jen who also happens to become a green 6-foot-7 inch superpowered Hulk just as she begins her legal career. This means navigating the dark shallow pool most of us know as modern dating, dealing with misogynistic colleagues and also using her newfound powers to fight bad guys – even if she doesn’t want to.
Witty, sassy and smart, She-Hulk is a legal-comedy and bases its humour around breaking the fourth wall, perfected sarcasm and the ribbing and banter between the titular character and those around her, particularly with her cousin Bruce Banner, played by the returning Mark Ruffalo, who makes more than a mere cameo. The humour in the series is also heavily grounded in relatable scenarios like obligatory family dinners and shitty first dates. She-Hulk takes the most unrelatable of people (a green superpowered human) and makes her personable, funny and easily identifiable. At times, it doesn’t even feel like we’re watching a superhero series, but rather a sitcom like New Girl and Fleabag.
That doesn’t mean the superhero aspect is gone though.
It is clear that the series will focus on Jen readjusting to her new life as a superhero, after she gains her newfound new abilities. Matching Marvel Studios’ recent move to adapt and change up key elements of popular characters, the show does the same here and instead of receiving an emergency blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce after an accident, how Jen receives her Hulk abilities from Bruce is completely accidental.
In the first two episodes, Bruce guides her in understanding and controlling her Hulk-ness and attempts to impart some wisdom. Bruce, who has had a firsthand negative experience as a Hulk, becomes an unwanted mentor to Jen who is resistant to accepting her new superhero status. In a sense, She-Hulk is also a comedic story on self-acceptance and what it means to be a superhero.
In episodes three and four, Jen gets comfortable with her powers and is able to use them to defend herself and battle new threats, whether it is Jameela Jamil’s Titania, or a bunch of otherworldly creatures never before seen in the MCU.
To a certain extent, Jen being an attorney for superpowered beings also means we see her in action as a heroic lawyer, determined to win the case for her clients, even if they turn out to be super-powered villains including Emil Blonsky aka Abomination (Tim Roth).
Thus far, each episode follows a certain formula or chain of events that may not always directly relate to each other but somehow links to a larger story and to the wider MCU. Some connections are small and subtle, where details are hidden in passing comments and banter, whilst others are huge and obvious and directly answer questions one might have in previously released movies such as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. How? We would tell you, but Jen might sue us, or worse, pursue us, so we’re not spilling.
Said formula is simple: everyday Jen goes to work and represents a client, something happens where she needs to go into Hulk mode to save the day, and then she attempts to return to “normal” life that includes drinking with her best friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) or trying to get into the pants of a very hot first date. We know – this might be the horniest MCU show yet.
It is unclear if the formula will stick past episode four, but we’ve got no complaints thus far. The current formula gives the series opportunities to include as many fun cameos as possible. After all, she is an attorney for superpowered beings, which means her episodic clients whom she attempts to save from trouble or seek justice for happen to be familiar faces, from heroes to villains and the likes. There are also non-MCU cameos that are downright shocking, so fans are definitely in for a treat each week.
While it is clear that She-Hulk’s greatest strength lies in its smart and humorous writing and its ability to poke fun and bring an even more playful energy to the MCU as we know it, we can’t say the same for its CGI effects.
As evident in the show’s trailers, She-Hulk’s CGI isn’t the usual MCU gold standard. The hero looks clumsily and unconventionally rendered, especially in scenes where she is interacting with regular folks. Even the transition from human Jen and Hulk Jen is jarring, where Maslany looks almost unrecognisable when she’s in green. Also, why does human Jen have curly kinky hair but Hulk Jen has thick wavy locks? What’s the explanation behind the new do? Yet somehow, Banner’s Hulk looks amazing – maybe because the show was using CGI assets from his earlier MCU appearances?
Viewers may find the bad CGI off-putting and we don’t blame them, but since the series has won us over with its writing and relatability, it’s something we can try to look past.
Orphan Black’s Maslany steals the limelight as Jen/ She-Hulk, bringing zest and spunk to the already humorous and witty comic-book character. And acting isn’t the only thing she’s brought to the series as fans can expect some of her dancing abilities to make way from Broadway shows to the big and small screens.
Her chemistry with Ruffalo is also undeniably strong and the two have perfected the familial banter that happens frequently between their characters, and successfully bring forward a loving and antagonistic sibling relationship. Maslany seems extremely comfortable within the MCU and we’re waiting patiently to see where else she can appear once She-Hulk is over.
In all, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law builds its case as a witty superhero legal-comedy that dabbles on themes like self-acceptance and female empowerment. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and pokes fun at the MCU as much as we fans do.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is incredibly witty and filled with tongue-in-cheek humour. Tatiana Maslany steals the limelight as the green hero, and the many cameos in the series are to die for!
Story - 8/10
Direction - 9/10
Characterisation - 9.5/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10