New Written Review from Mike Crowley on You’ll Probably Agree: ‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ Is Redundant But Fun

Another day another Marvel property. Far from bad, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is amusing, disposable entertainment. A good job, but not a great job. For this many years of solid storytelling, Marvel can do a little better. Yet they choose to compromise for smaller budgets on smaller screens where the technology exists to blow us away. The Mandalorian and Loki have proven the magic Disney’s capable of. But when technicalities clash with tight deadlines, the pressure felt by the staff rubs off on the audience.

The premise of She-Hulk is delivered with enough pizazz to separate itself from the typical whimsical courtroom comedy. When getting involved in a jeep accident with her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Jennifer Walters’s (Tatiana Maslany) blood fuses with Bruce’s, transforming her into a Hulk. As a Hulk, life can never be the same for Jennifer. But things don’t have to be as bad for her as they were for Bruce from the beginning. Jennifer doesn’t have to worry about being viewed as a monster in a world that likes the Hulk for saving the planet with the Avengers multiple times. As you can guess, society didn’t always understand Hulk. First feared, Bruce was hunted before being recruited. That story exists in two cinematic adaptations. One cannon, the other not, but with the multiverse, why not count it all as cannon?  

Ang Lee’s Hulk from 2003 is a vastly misunderstood comic book film that does contain the flaws it’s criticized for but isn’t nearly as terrible as popular culture would lead you to believe. Hulk’s too ambitious for its own good, but at least it had the vision to take a comic book adaptation toward untrodden territory. Its reboot, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, is the polar opposite of Ang Lee’s film, making the safest movie possible. The plot of TIH plays like an extended episode of the tv series bearing the same name from the seventies. The difference between the TV show and the 2008 film is its with better visual effects, which contains arguably the best design of the Hulk himself. Still, there wasn’t much between the ears in terms of storytelling or nuance with TIH—too much Hulk smash, not enough Hulk sad. 

Like having to fix Spider-Man, Disney was tasked to fix the Hulk. They found a solution to repairing the green man’s reputation by making him a supporting character. One who’s the butt of the jokes in a snide “we know those movies sucked” sort of way. From The Avengers to Thor Ragnarok to She-Hulk, Bruce plays second fiddle to the protagonist.

There’s a subtext of selfhood that’s prevalent in She-Hulk. In a universe that sees flying alines and towering giants as quaint thanks to a fantastical setting, Jennifer can not only be a Hulk who works in law but be THE Hulk who works in law. Being attuned to the 21st century’s evolution in kindness (at least in the MCU), Jennifer can handle the responsibilities of being a Hulk with a significant degree of security. In many ways, Jennifer is Bruce’s superior in handling Hulk life. Being a woman and legally inept, Jennifer can handle adversity with greater finesse than Bruce.

To invest audiences in Jennifer’s legal side of things, Marvel pulls out another cameo from their bag of surprise guest spots. I thought Jennifer’s client was a spoiler until I noticed Tim Roth in every She-Hulk trailer. The Incredible Hulk’s Abomination returns to the MCU. After fighting Bruce in an undisclosed city, Abomination (real name Emil Blonsky) swears that he’s a changed man. Anyone who’s read The Dark Knight Returns knows what happens when villains say they’ve been “rehabilitated.” Like the Joker, Blonsky is a clever one who’s adaptable. Like how Joker manipulates mental health care, Blonsky does the same with the legal system, out benching Jennifer’s mental strength.

The advantage of having a multilayered cinematic universe is that you can bring back old characters without re-establishing them. In that regard, I’d love to see some love given to Ang Lee’s Hulk-verse. Wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity to replace the late William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross by having Sam Elliot reprise his role? 

The chemistry between Jennifer and Bruce is cute enough for the show to hold your attention throughout its brief 25-35 minute runtimes. Tatiana Maslany does an admirable job as the affable, wise-cracking legal whip. There’s enough charisma though Tatiana’s natural vibes to keep me engaged with her character’s antics. However, some of that cringy Marvel humor sneaks its way into some well-written jokes.

After a few cleverly placed gag lands, the show is sometimes insistent on repeating the same laugh. The humor especially doesn’t work when Jennifer breaks the 4th wall multiple times like she’s Ferris Bueller. I don’t care if she does it in the comics; talking to the camera looks lazy on screen.The problem with humor overall is that it doesn’t always work but has to function correctly. She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is dependent on being playful to match the overall tone of the lighter comics it’s based on. Unfortunately, some of the jokes can be hit or miss. Or hit, then keep beating a dead joke with a stick.

I need to address the green elephant in the room. She-Hulk’s design is terrible. But it’s not the fault of the overworked visual effects artists who’ve publicly aired their grievances with Kevin Feige’s demands. With television content matching the visuals once only possible on a big screen budget, the quota for more VFX shots is impossible, leading to incomplete looking work. To say criticizing the CG on She-Hulk herself is a nitpick is an understatement when the selling point of the show is to see a female Hulk brought to life on screen. Yet, Jennifer Walters looks worse than Bruce Banner did in 2003.

Designing a green beast that still contains a humanoid form must be hair-pulling to pull off. Having to sculpt a Hulk off of an entirely different sex then rushing it through the door leads to Jen’s Hulk form looking like a GTA mod. For the love of God Kevin, give your team some time to work out your vision!

She-Hulk is a flawed but entertaining enough outing to warrant a weekly short-watch. Although She-Hulk would be better off coming in one bulk upload since the stakes are incredibly low past Endgame. I believe we’ve reached an impasse with Marvel content. The number of shows being fired off mixed with movies can be dizzying. I haven’t even gotten the chance to finish Ms. Marvel since I lost interest after being drowned in endless MCU content over the last two years. I’d like to see some consequences happen to our heroes soon. The type Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home had to face. What does Jennifer Walters have to lose? What is at steak? Although fun, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law stands on the shelf of filler material which Marvel will keep pumping out until Phase 4’s newest baddy starts to do some real damage.

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