Disclaimer: This review is based on the first 4 episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law Review
Marvel Cinematic Universe has returned with the eighth series titled She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. The show based on She-Hulk comics has taken some liberty for the television adaptation but for the most part, it remains refreshing and funny. MCU so far has had a good track record with the shows with Ms Marvel, Loki, WandaVision as opposed to the recent big-screen Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, Thor Love And Thunder. Now, Tatiana Maslany’s She-Hulk is going to double down on the progress so far. Marvel may not know where the new phase is going but the genre diversification is definitely working.
She-Hulk is funny and for once the cameos do not overpower the true hero of the show and it’s a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered Hulk as well as actress Tatiana Maslany.
The show begins with Jennifer Walters (Tatiana) preparing for the closing argument for a case. While her paralegal continues to praise her statements, it’s her male co-worker who believes he would be a better fit for giving the statement and then winning the case. Within the first five minutes, the creator of the show and director for the first four episodes Kat Coiro, sets the tone. Much like everyone, Jen has had to fight to stand her ground to prove herself as a lawyer. Now she had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously because of her superpowers. She breaks the fourth wall for the first time when her powers are mentioned by the paralegal, without any context.
Jen gives us a quick but detailed recap of how she got the powers and how she learned to control them. Once again Kat Coiro takes the chance to set She-Hulk apart from Bruce Banner’s Hulk. He took years to master his powers from the first Hulk movies to all three phases of MCU, but Walters manages in only a few months. The makers have done well to explain the origin — the psychological and physiological mechanism, without turning the show into an origin story. As the trailer revealed, Jen is here she can turn into a Hulk easily and we can move on to more important parts of her life, like the villains she fights against or fights for as their attorney.
The show constantly provides commentary on the power place power balance but it also explores the struggles Jen is facing with her self-identity. Jen as a human struggles to be noticed, what makes it worse is her She-Hulk persona. Everyone loves and accepts her green monster more than they ever did her human self. Through the first four episodes, Jen hardly needs time to come to terms with her powers, instead what she continues to struggle with is seeing the Hulk as a part of her identity. Walters never planned on using or revealing her powers in the first place, despite Bruce’s many warnings she returned to her day job as a lawyer and immediately gets fired. For the rest of the season, she tries to find a place for both sides of her whether it’s as a superhero or as a lawyer.
Despite the heavy undertone, the plot remains simple of a law firm drama with a hint of comedy. Tatiana has epic timing for the fourth wall breaks and several cameos keep the screenplay intact to the MCU. She-Hulk’s CGI is still a bit questionable. Smart Hulk looks amazing, like he was picked up from Avengers: Endgame and repurposed here, but She-Hulk still looks a bit, Princess Fiona. If you go by the trailer’s standard, the show is much much better. Wong will continue to surprise you as much as Abomination played Tim Roth. They are not the same people you remembered.
With phase 5, MCU has turned to a more comic-accurate world, as much as live-action would allow, and that means more unhinged costumes as well as more comic and erratic behaviours from the characters. The screenplay takes little to no time to explain plots with internal monologues and jumps to conclusions. It may not have worked with Thor Love And Thunder but it works best with Jen breaking the fourth wall and explaining exactly what the audience is thinking. Honestly, She-Hulk isn’t all Marvel, but the way things are going, Marvel isn’t itself. Don’t go in expecting anything.
The run time really works in the show’s favour. Anything more than 25 minutes would have changed the tone of the show, making it harder to take it seriously. The light 20-25 minutes episodes are perfect to watch without spending too much energy or time on them. She-Hulk still seems to be part of the filler phase, but that does not mean it doesn’t have anything that will prove useful in phases 5 and 6. There are plenty of easter eggs for the long-time fans to enjoy as much as it has light playful moments for the new audience to get invested in.
The show, She-Hulk and Tatiana haven’t taken themselves too seriously so far (4 episodes) and I hope the intensity doesn’t change much in future episodes. The next three episodes have been directed by Anu Valia, known for shows like Never Have I Ever, Mixed-ish, Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, and others. It is unclear if they will be able to maintain the delicate balance Kat Coiro has already struck.
Verdict: She-Hulk is a fun watch, something between I Am Groot and Suits. It’s the most random combination but for now, it works. I am excited to see Jameela Jamil’s performance. She appeared only for one scene so far, but she is bound to make a longer appearance in upcoming episodes. She plays a superpowered influencer/celebrity and given how the show has a real-life commentary narrative, she is bound to play a comically exaggerated version of a social media influencer. Something to look forward to, of course along with the Daredevil cameo.
Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India
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