She-Hulk Review: Marvel’s ‘Fun Lawyer Show’ Isn’t Getting Big Enough

The series got off to a rocky start, but has comedic potential and a winning cast.

Hulk stories have never been the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s forte, so She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has plenty to offer.

The latest Marvel Disney+ series is about practicing lawyer Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) who acquires superpowers after a car accident and ends up living and working as a colossus. The nine-episode series was created by Rick and Morty writer Jessica Gao and directed by Marry Me actress Kat Coiro Cast, talented writers and the power of the MCU.

In the comics, Jen receives a life-saving blood transfusion from cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), but the show makes things both simpler and more boring: his blood drips into her open wounds after the accident, and she transforms—but with coordination and control far beyond Bruce’s best days as the Hulk, even after 15 years.

“I’m better than you?” Jen asks as he tells her that her blood has indeed healed his wounds. Bruce balks, but the short answer is yes. She can even control if and when she transforms into the Hulk form, and in no time she returns to life as a lawyer to run a superhuman legal department and represent Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), the man who turns into Abomination morphed into The Incredible Hulk and attempted to kill Bruce.

The ambitious tone of “She-Hulk” is a comedic legal process with a superhero twist, but any attorney would tell you it’s difficult to uphold something without precedent. As the first show of its kind, “She-Hulk” can build and break the rules of its universe — like “WandaVision” or the non-MCU masterclass of “Kevin Can F*** Himself” — but it doesn’t feel nearly as confident , focused or purposeful. There’s a handful of promising parts, from Jen’s obsession with Steve Rogers’ sex life, to how Wong spends his free time, to a really crazy cameo in episode 2 – all amusing, but either too far or not far driven enough that it ultimately misses the sweet spot (an ongoing joke about Blonsky’s “soul mate” pen pal oddly works). Tongue-in-cheek references to Hulk’s inconsistencies and other MCU moments fizzle alongside brazen peddling of Pixar, Hulu, and other Disney properties.

The She-Hulk team isn’t lacking in comedy writing talent (with alumni from Robot Chicken, On My Block, Santa Clarita Diet, and recent She-Hulk comics), but the show is still looking for talent his voice, bogged down by larger tasks to fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to develop phase 4 and to establish this character in a world full of superheroes. In the four episodes screened for review, there’s no indication of where She-Hulk’s journey is headed. Jameela Jamil’s Titania and Renée Elise Goldsberry’s Amelia each get exactly one scene, and Charlie Cox’s Daredevil is nowhere to be seen. Jen directly orders audiences “to remember whose show this really is,” but Blonsky, Banner, and Wong dominate the early episodes, with the latter two undoubtedly benefiting from established characters, performances, and voices. Blonsky’s trial doesn’t end at the center of the conflict, nor does Jen’s struggle to live as a colossus or what appears to be a conspiracy to steal her blood. The Sacarrian Class A plane that causes Jen and Bruce’s car crash has yet to be explained, although this may have something to do with the premiere being a recut version of Episode 8. Jen’s determined she doesn’t want to save the world, so something’s got to change her mind — but that reportedly hasn’t happened yet.

Despite all this, the cast is charming, with Maslany at the helm. She suits every costar, of course, especially Ruffalo, and hits on everything from Jen’s sweet cheekiness to her command of a courtroom. Jen and Bruce tease each other like siblings, and though he quickly leaves the show, their relationship carries the pilot. Benedict Wong continues to steal every scene as Wong, who has since established himself in multiple films as a flawless comedic relief that never undermines his powers, his magic, or his status. Ginger Gonzaga and Josh Segarra make an impact in early episodes as Jen’s best friend/paralegal and fellow attorney at their new firm. “ Now with legal expertise on top of that.

Two women sit chatting and laughing on a couch, food and drinks are on the coffee table in front of them; still from "She-Hulk: Lawyer"

Ginger Gonzaga and Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Chuck Zlotnick / Marvel Studios

The She-Hulk trailer’s CGI drew backlash from viewers, and while it’s improved significantly (and the team has called for VFX artists), it’s still distracting. Ruffalo’s Smart Hulk was almost never photorealistic, but he was part of a massive ensemble cast in Endgame that included multiple CGI aliens. “She-Hulk” stands out in everyday office, bar, and household settings, not because of her size and shape, but because she simply doesn’t match the fabric of her surrounding reality.

Gao, Coiro, and Maslany have all spoken out about how “She-Hulk” explores societal perceptions of women and their bodies, and it’s clear they’ve thought about everything that manifests in Jen’s life. Her Hulk form is taller and curvier with a constant blowout. She gets more matches on dating apps than Jen, and when she goes on dates, men are more impressed than intimidated. Aside from a comment about the lack of clothing options for her size, Jen only seems to benefit from being a Hulk in early episodes, including the ability to completely destroy a group of men who try to attack her.

When Bruce tells Jen to control her anger in Episode 1, she almost laughs in his face. Her whole being is an exercise in tempering emotions, she says, from accusations and mansplains to being taken seriously at work. It’s a clever subversion of Bruce’s own “I’m always angry” from The Avengers; Jen is such a pro at what took him years to master, she doesn’t even have to say it. She-Hulk isn’t incredible just yet, but it excels at taking something familiar and dismantling it, leaving five episodes to reveal its true power.

Class: C

She-Hulk will stream on Disney+ on August 18th.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/08/she-hulk-review-1234752393/ She-Hulk Review: Marvel’s ‘Fun Lawyer Show’ Isn’t Getting Big Enough

Lindsay Lowe

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