“I am a Hulk. And I’m guessing you’re not going to be able to focus on this fun lawyer show until you know all about that.” So begins Marvel’s newest Disney+ show, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, starring Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters, cousin of original ‘big green guy’ Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).
Via flashback, we see Jen and Bruce on a road trip. After a car accident (caused when they swerve away from a Sakaaran space ship), Bruce bleeds directly into a wound she sustains, bestowing upon her his Hulk powers: superhuman strength, agility and invulnerability, among others. They then spend some time in Mexico where Bruce tries to teach Jen how to be a superhero – and how to control her anger and fear. The former is something she’s not very interested in, while the latter she already has a hold over, given that “those are, like, the baseline of any woman just existing.”
She-Hulk doesn’t shy away from feminist commentary or from addressing toxic masculinity, with Jen talking about men who “explain my own area of expertise to me”; railing against being given a name that makes her a “derivative of the Hulk”; or rolling her eyes at misogynistic dudebro co-worker Dennis (Drew Matthews), whose only redeeming feature is that his storyline results in a cameo from rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion.
Mostly, though, She-Hulk is the “fun lawyer show” it promises to be, with an emphasis on the fun. From its case-of-the-week format to the suits that Jen sports, there’s more than a hint of Ally McBeal here, but made for the modern day. The special effects aren’t quite as good though. Most of the time, Maslany looks like she’s just been given a coat of green paint, particularly when she’s the only person on the screen. It seems like the show doesn’t have the big budget afforded to Ruffalo’s character in the movies – though it might be a deliberate choice, adding to that kitschy ‘90s feel.
What’s not kitschy, however, is Maslany’s performance. As anyone who’s seen her masterful turn in sci-fi thriller series Orphan Black will know, she’s a pro. You can’t help but root for the characters she plays, and the same is true here whether she’s in Jen’s human form or as the musclebound She-Hulk.
In the comic books, She-Hulk’s nemesis is Titania, a “superpowered influencer” played here by Jameela Jamil. We meet her at the end of episode one, but then she disappears until the very end of episode four. Instead of showing us more about Titania or other original characters, the show focuses on familiar faces: there’s an episode dedicated to getting Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), AKA Abomination from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, out on parole, and Doctor Strange’s Wong (Benedict Wong) appears across two episodes as well.
Given the number of secondary character cameos, it’s tempting to think that all these storylines are going to come together further down the line, especially given Hulk’s departure in the Sakaaran spaceship of the first episode. Until then, it’s 20-odd minutes a week (plus mid-credit scenes, don’t skip those!) of legal fun. Case closed.
‘She-Hulk: Attorney At Law’ debuts on Disney+ tomorrow (August 18)