This is a review of the first four episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. It is spoiler-free, the trailers for the series give away more than this review will.
If 2021 was the opening of the Marvel Disney+ era, 2022 is the year that they branched out big time. That’s not to say that the 2021 shows didn’t do special things, WandaVision was a television, well, marvel. The 2022 shows like Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight have taken the formula, thrown that out the window, and replaced it with three properties that are truly special and unique. She-Hulk: Attorney At Law might start off relatively safe, it takes the best thing that Marvel does, and takes the legal procedural comedy and adds, you guessed it, superheroes.
From the fourth-wall breaks, to the jokes, all the way back to the action you expect, and some that you wouldn’t expect, She-Hulk is among the most creative and free that an MCU series has been. It does all of that while staying true to the legal procedural of the week format. The biggest reason why She-Hulk works is that everyone is on board creatively and they all know what the show is about. Everything on the show is cohesive. There’s Jessica Gao as Head Writer, Kat Coiro as director for episodes 1-4 and 8-9, with Anu Valia handling episodes 5-7. While the case of the week might change, the one constant is the absolutely smashing (pun intended) performance by Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk.
A Seamless Transition
I’ll just get it out of the way, Tatiana Maslany is perfect as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk. When she was cast, there were objections that she was small or not the prototypical Jen Walters, well that’s out the window after watching. She embodies the character in every way, from her strength, humor, and grace all the way to the insecurities and wounds she has as a person. Her performance is the guiding line throughout the opening four episodes that make this show so special.
Her relationship with her cousin Bruce Banner/Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo) is the center of the first episode, and it’s arguably the weakest part of her whole narrative. She’s a woman, in law, that also happens to be a superhero now. So she deals with all the normal baggage that would come with being in a male-dominated field and then has to deal with the newfound popularity of being a superhero. Sometimes to comedic effects, like when she’s on dating apps swiping.
The rest of the cast comes in clutch as well. Ginger Gonzaga plays Jen’s best friend Nikki. She handles her best friend becoming a hulked-up superhero fairly well, and provides the oomph to the story going further than just a standard superhero structure. The cast also features Benedict Wong as Wong from the Doctor Strange movies, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination making a return from the dreadful Edward Norton Incredible Hulk movie, and also has Josh Segarra, Jon Bass, and Renee Elise Goldsberry.
Not A Strong Start, But Stick Around For Later
The first episode does a couple of things very well, but it also doesn’t really capture the whole vibe of the show very well. It gives you the reasons why Jennifer Walters turns into She-Hulk very quickly, within the first 5 minutes, and then there’s a bunch of scientific and Hulk jargon with Bruce Banner. That first episode does a good job of setting up who Jen is, but outside of that, it’s the weakest of the four I saw. Once you get into the real meat of the show, it gets so much better. We’re only getting one episode for the premiere, it might’ve been better for Marvel to drop two and give people a taste of what the show is actually like.
Another qualm is that Jameela Jamil is shown off as the villain for the series in the first episode, but doesn’t make many appearances. Narratively, it gives Jen some more time to fully cope with and comprehend her life after getting powers, but it would have been nice to see a bit more from Titania.
The case-of-the-week structure lends itself to the cast of characters as well. With Tatiana Maslany performing perfectly as She-Hulk, she gets surrounded by plenty of wild and interesting characters like the magician Donny Blaze, Madisynn (played hilariously by Patty Guggenheim), and a shapeshifting mystical being. Those ancillary characters are really the ones that make She-Hulk go from funny to hilarious and special.
The most important part of She-Hulk is what it does for the representation of women in this superhero sphere. Jennifer Walters is portrayed as powerful, she catches on quickly to her powers, but she’s still just as vulnerable and open as any of us would be. It’s about the battle between She-Hulk and Jen, where she feels more confident as She-Hulk but wants to be seen as Jen.
She-Hulk has tremendous characters, heart, and while it might not be for everyone and start off on the wrong foot, it gets so much better. Upending the expectations of Marvel’s Disney+ shows with comedy, the structure of the series, and Tatiana Maslany’s excellent performance make this one well worth a watch. Watch She-Hulk: Attorney At Law on Thursday, August 18th on Disney+ and every Thursday after that.
For more on Marvel, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.