Have you ever wondered what Marvel superheroes do during their downtime, when they’re not out saving the world from universe-wrecking aliens? Do they go on Tinder and find dates? Do they have day jobs? Do they have to help their parents move stuff from the garage?
Well, you get to find out on She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) television show on Disney+ Hotstar.
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) plays 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. Jen has all the powers of the Hulk, but unlike Bruce, however, she manages to stay as Jennifer even when she is Hulked-out, and can even control her transformations at will. This leads her to decide that she can continue her life as per normal, and keep trying cases as a lawyer.
However, as the old adage goes, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, and soon her secret gets out and she has to deal with being seen as a superhero while trying to juggle a new career as a lawyer handling superpowered cases.
During a global press conference held virtually, Maslany said it was this conflict within She-Hulk that she found most interesting and what drew her to the role.
“She's built this life for herself that she does not want to let go of, she's worked so hard to be a lawyer and she has to constantly prove herself,” she said. “So she's on this path, but when this thing happens to her, she has to contend with a whole other perception being placed on top of her, and all the societal expectations of how she should be and who she should be.
Navigating those two versions was super interesting to her, especially since she had always wanted to see a superhero show that was ‘funny’ yet ‘mundane and small’.
“In a way, I've always dreamed of watching a superhero show that had those ‘in-between moments’, the moments where you're like checking your phone and so on,” she said.
“What’s so great about the show is that it has all those huge Marvel elements and big set pieces. However, we also deal with She-Hulk swipe dating, helping her dad carry stuff into the garage... So, those little sweet moments really made me excited to do this show.”
According to her, head writer and executive producer Jessica Gao’s scripts “zeroes in on real human dynamics”, which made it easy for her to handle scenes with her co-stars, which included longtime Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo.
“It was easy then, when Mark comes to set and (we) are doing these kind of sibling-like scenes, where we’re ripping each other, but also love each other very much,” she said. “It was a very easy dynamic to bring to camera because it just made sense. And I feel like a lot of the characters in this show have that ring of truth that’s very easy to bring to life.”
She Hulk breaking the fourth is a key element in the show, and for Gao, the most important element of the comics that she wanted to bring to life.
“It was the John Byrne run that made me fall in love with this character, with the fourth wall breaking and the kind of meta humor and the self-awareness,” she said.
“But we really talked (about it). It went through a lot of evolutionary steps. How much should she talk to the camera? Is she talking directly to the audience? Is there another meta element? Is she talking to somebody else that’s more behind the scenes? We went through a lot of different versions of how she would do it.”
Gao also said Maslany was the first and only actress they had in mind for the role.
“There is nobody else. There was nobody else. There was really no other discussion. From her previous work, we knew that she had a range and could embody so many elements of the human experience,” Gao said.
“And what's so interesting and different about Jennifer is that as Tatiana said, she maintains her sense of self, and yet her sense of self is influenced by the way she presents when she changes, it's a different way of walking through the world. And so it required a nuance of performance that really only Tatiana could give.
The first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, with new episodes every week.