She-Hulk, Attorney At Law is Marvel Studios’ latest attempt at a light-hearted, more comedic take on one of their vast pantheon of heroes, much like its recent Ms. Marvel.
Immediately, the show goes meta, with Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the camera, and the viewer. This isn’t copycatting Fleabag, as some in the media have assumed and criticized, but an homage to The Sensational She-Hulk series by John Byrne in the late 1980s, where She-Hulk talked directly to the reader ALL THE TIME. Apparently, these critics are unaware of She-Hulk's comic book history.
Any first episode or comics issue is naturally an Origin Story, and so it is here in “A Normal Amount Of Rage”. Narrating a flashback, Jennifer reveals that she happens to be a cousin of Bruce Banner (Hulk), and as in the origin story from The Savage She-Hulk #1 (1980), Bruce (Mark Ruffalo, reprising his MCU movie role) meets up with Jen (Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black fame, showing us her comedic talents), and Jen is injured in an accident. Rather than the comic book plot of Jen being shot and needing a blood transfusion from Bruce to survive, here there’s a violent, rolling car crash and Jen’s blood gets tainted with Bruce's Gamma-irradiated blood as she pulls him from the wreckage. Even with this very small amount of blood getting into Jen's system, the side effect for her is immediate and very, very green and very, very angry.
There’s been a lot of controversy about the below-par CGI effects of this series seen in teasers and previews, and the harsh treatment and demanding schedule that the CGI artists have received from Marvel Studios. Thankfully, the effects seen in episode 1 are nothing to complain about, IMO. The facial expressions that are motion-captured from Tatiana Maslany are diverse and wonderfully done, the fusion of Banner and Hulk (Smart Hulk) looks better than ever, and the various Hulk training sessions with Bruce are high-quality. Yes, you can still tell they are CGI, but it's still better than expected.
There’s a lot of good-natured rivalry and humor between the cousins during these sequences, as becoming a mentally and physically trained Hulk seems to be a helluva lot easier and progress a helluva lot faster for Jen than it has been for Bruce. She may even be more powerful than him, due to even more favorable Gamma-friendly, family genes.
Side Note #1: All the build-up of the appearance of The Good Place actor Jameela Jamil as villain Titania was pretty anti-climactic. She appears in one scene for all of a few seconds. Let’s hope we get to see a lot more of her, for Jamil's sake at least.
Side Note #2: It was good to see so many women in positions of leadership on She-Hulk, from show creator/writer Jessica Gao, to director Kat Coiro, and second unit director, multiple producers, music, editing, casting, production design, art direction, set decoration, costuming, production management . . .
Hard-to-please fanboys will certainly complain, but I choose to ignore the trollish comments and just relax and enjoy the show. I can’t wait to see where Jen’s live-action adventures lead and what comics storylines they adopt. Watch She-Hulk, Attorney At Law, streaming on Disney+ every Thursday for the next 8 weeks (season 1 is scheduled to run 9 episodes).
P.S. Stay tuned during the credits for an extra scene that brings humorous closure to a concern Jen has over the sex life of a certain First Avenger.
The Savage She-Hulk (1980) by Stan Lee and John Buscema
The Sensational She-Hulk (1989) by John Byrne
She-Hulk, Vol. 4 (2022) by Rainbow Rowell and Roge Antonio