The Hulk – ok, actor Mark Ruffalo – recently smashed out at critics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by claiming that everything that Marvel Studios has released has been different. While that may not be exactly true when it comes to the feature films of the MCU, Ruffalo does have a case when it comes to the recent TV shows on Disney+ Hotstar.
WandaVision was trippy magic realism, Falcon And The Winter Soldier was a TV version of an MCU movie, Loki was a Multiversal road trip series, Hawkeye was a buddy hero series, Moon Knight was a psychological action thriller, and Ms Marvel was a coming-of-age teen dramedy.
With She-Hulk, Marvel has done it again, and this time it has dipped its toes into sitcom territory while masquerading as a legal drama. Yes, a little bit like Ally McBeal, except instead of dancing babies you get giant green-skinned people smashing stuff while yelling “I object!”.
Anyway, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (to give it its proper name), stars Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Jennifer Walters, a mild-mannered assistant district attorney who just happens to be the cousin of a certain Bruce Banner, a.k.a The Hulk (Ruffalo).
When some of Bruce’s gamma-infused blood gets into her body during an accident, Jennifer is transformed into She-Hulk (a name she REALLY does not like). Unlike the er, He-Hulk, however, Jennifer manages to stay Jennifer even when she is Hulked-out.
However, her green alter-ego doesn’t remain a secret for long – Jen is forced to transform in the middle of a trial in order to save a panel of jurors from Titania (Jameela Jamil), and is subsequently fired from her job.
Fortunately, she then gets hired by another firm to front its Superpower Division, and thus is tasked with cases that involve the superpowered community.
Most of the Disney+ shows have felt like just one-season-wonders that are not expected to get second seasons (the only exceptions so far has been Loki and the animated What If.. series). Most of them were meant to play a part in contributing to the overall MCU by introducing new characters that would then lead into the feature films.
Based on the first four episodes we were given to review, however, She-Hulk is arguably the first Marvel show that feels like it could be more of a conventional episodic series than the rest. It’s part sitcom, part legal drama, kinda like Ally Mcbeal, but with superpowers (Maslany’s quirky performance even reminds me a little of Calista Flockhart’s).
Now, it’s not as if we’ve been crying out for a superhero lawyer show, but She-Hulk has a surprisingly fun premise nonetheless, one that we didn't know we needed until now, and which has the potential for so much more within the MCU. After all, here are literally hundreds of other superpowered characters in the MCU who would probably need legal advice at some point.
The more you think about it, the more cases you can see Jennifer taking on in future episodes. Like, what if the Avengers got sued for all the damage they caused in the Battle Of New York? What if Hawkeye was charged with littering for leaving his arrows all over New York? What if Spider-Man was arrested for vandalism for his webbing?
There are countless cases that could involved a superhero, and She-Hulk is there to fill that gap. Heck, with Daredevil due to appear on the show as well, we could even see a superhero lawyer showdown in court!
Admittedly, the fully CGI She-Hulk can be a bit distracting at first, but Maslany plays her with such wit and confidence that we can forgive a few dodgy CGI moments (it IS A lot better than it looked in the initial trailers though). The breaking of the Fourth Wall has always been a signature of the She-Hulk comic books, and it’s great to see that here as well.
While most of the Disney+ shows have (mostly) eschewed big name cameos by the stars of the feature films, She-Hulk embraces cameo after cameo. Whether it’s training with her cousin Bruce, tying up loose ends with Tim Roth’s Abomination (that scene in Shang-Chi with Wong, who also makes an appearance here, is addressed here), or discussing Captain America’s sex life, this is a show that fully embraces its place in the MCU, while also enjoying its life outside the main universe.
Sometimes you want a bit of the real world in your superheroes, and She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is here to fill that gap. And if this proves to be a hit and She-Hulk becomes Marvel’s first multiple-season episodic sitcom series, I would have no objections whatsoever.
She-Hulk smashes it with Marvel's first episodic legal sitcom.