Disney+ provided the first four episodes of the nine episode She-Hulk series for critic review. I’ll have the full season review along with weekly episode breakdowns with spoilers after they air on Disney+.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t had a show or hero like She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. It bridges the gap from the large blockbuster scale universe hinging on heroic acts to a far more intimate comedic side of life as a super powered green Amazon.
It’s rare when Marvel Studios cast an actor that doesn’t embody the comic book inspiration. Typically, the selection seems so obvious in hindsight that fan casting isn’t even necessary.
Star Tatiana Maslany certainly keeps that stellar casting record intact with a demeanor that shows she perfectly understands the character. Whether as a green CGI creation or slogging in sweatpants, Maslany is an enjoyable presence that makes the series worth watching even through some of its weaker moments.
Maslany is Jennifer Walters, a formidable attorney at the DA’s office whose life suddenly gets turned upside down while hanging out with her cousin Bruce Banner aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
When she awakens she finds she’s become big and green just like her cousin. The only caveat? She’s retained all her intelligence. This dynamic isn’t quite as fun as the comics when Bruce was a mindless brute and She-Hulk was the brains in the gamma-powered family.
Maslany and Ruffalo have an impressively strong chemistry considering their limited time to establish a tight family bond. Their scenes together are terrific.
Although reluctant to accept the call to be a hero, Jen keeps finding herself in positions where she’s got to become She-Hulk, namely her new gig. Maslany easily navigates the fourth wall breaking segments, which prove to be reliable episode standout moments. In a shift from previous Disney+ shows, each episode has a post credit scene. These aren’t universe shattering moments or big teases for some major threat but are fun all the same.
The trailers reveal a surprising amount of cameos, gags and plot points from the first three episodes so the fourth one is where the show really starts to feel fresh and exciting. One major cameo that has gone unspoiled neatly pays off one episode’s shaky subplot to the point it was worth the extended setup. But that big cameo from the last round of trailers doesn’t appear in the first quarter episodes.
A significant amount of online chatter revolved around the soft looking She-Hulk CGI. Those concerns aren’t totally eased through the first half of the season. The CGI quality varies from scene to scene. In some, it looks sharp and the same quality as Hulk, Thanos, Ultron, etc. In others it looks like some early 2022 first cracks at the new technology. Soft CGI is better than coming up with lame reasons to have Maslany appear 90% of the time as Jennifer.
Easily the most obnoxious and annoying aspect of the first three episodes is this needlessly self-satisfied approach on gender issues. Thankfully they’re not constant plot points, but the scenes dedicated to She-Hulk calling out some dude’s boorish behavior, the challenges of women in the workplace and society in general is tiresome.
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It’s a bad fit for She-Hulk, a character who’s traditionally portrayed as more carefree and less a feminist avatar for the writers bringing their personal experiences to the show.
And of course, it doesn’t mean much since Jennifer immediately becomes a superior She-Hulk with no challenges when she’s green-ed up. Jennifer doesn’t need to learn how to use these amazing abilities since she’s far more accustomed to controlling her rage than a man (sigh).
At least through the first episodes, there’s no obvious main villain. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not, but it does seem like there’s going to have to be a major tonal shift for the character when she arrives on the big screen teaming with the Avengers against Kang. There’s definitely a greater emphasis on comedy here and
Given the seeming lack of major developments outside of a heavily buzzed cameo, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law might make for a better binging experience. The episodes are on the shorter side at around 30 minutes so it wouldn’t take too long to breeze through the season.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+