In Marvel Studios’ “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany)—an attorney specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases—must navigate the complicated life of a single, 30-something who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk.
Directed by: #KatCoiro
Released: Aug. 18, 2022
TV review by: Ahmed Abbas | Published: Aug. 18, 2022
Watching the four screened episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law quickly had me reminiscing about my childhood, when I’d wake up early on a Sunday morning to catch the Marvel cartoons on TV. The weekly, fun, episodic adventures into the world of Marvel that were once a staple of my childhood have returned in my adulthood, matched in tone and creativity in She-Hulk’s four debut episodes.
The series achieves what Marvel hasn’t pulled off in the past – a light-hearted tone that doesn’t take itself too seriously and adopts a meta-approach, matched perfectly to the material. While Marvel has certainly delved into comedy in the past, occasionally the tone may not feel right for a project, or a joke may not land. So far, the tone of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law feels natural and suited to the series.
After the initial teaser trailer’s debut, countless fans were outspoken regarding the title character’s animation quality. While the series’ debut was still three months away, that didn’t defer the discourse. Having viewed the first four episodes on the big screen, I am happy to confirm that the CGI was in fact, much improved by the series’ release, as many expected. In fact, there are certain shots that look unexpectedly real.
As usual, Marvel’s standard of CGI is met, whether it be virtual environments or giant abominations. Of course, there is room for improvement in certain cases, but the degree met more than satisfies. The quality of the CGI featured is surprising, as there is a myriad of visual effect types, from monstrous behemoths to magic-wielding sorcerers; this is not to forget that the lead character is in She-Hulk form for a lengthy amount of the episodes. This series certainly has more demanding effects than Marvel’s other streaming releases yet executed them the best. The visual effects quality is certainly not a concern in this release.
The plot surrounding a legal department for super-powered individuals is a fantastically creative concept that grants the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) a sense of verisimilitude, being that if super-powered people did exist, a legal department catered specifically for cases involving them would undoubtedly exist.
To fans of legal dramas, the episodes don’t accurately abide by courtroom procedure, but for a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this is inconsequential and only noticeable to those who know the intricate ins and outs of a courtroom.
The story intertwines Jennifer’s superhero and courtroom duties perfectly, relating her clients (or legal opponents) to the situations which require a Hulk’s touch. This keeps the narrative’s pace organic and without awkward stops as several other shows are guilty of.
Looking back, the show gets straight to the point and transforms Jennifer into She-Hulk within the first five minutes. On the one hand, this is a positive in that we quickly get to the series’ title character. However, for a nine-episode season and with She-Hulk now having been confirmed to have a long-term future in the MCU, it may have been better served to elongate Jennifer’s life before the transformation to contrast the two periods and provide the character with long-term growth, so viewers can trace her journey project-to-project.
This approach does keep Kevin Feige’s (President of Marvel Studios) promise of no more origin stories – instead, it opts for a brief flashback, quickly bringing viewers to speed on She-Hulk’s genesis, before continuing her post-transformation adventures. The fleeting origin misses out on presenting a proper view into Jennifer’s pre-Hulk life and the ensuing bedlam spawned by the transformation, which would have brought some much-needed depth to the episode.
Past this, the debut four episodes have excellent pacing, with a recipe that fuses the procedural and serialised formats: each episode is its own self-contained story that introduces a character to become the central focus of the following episode whilst a looming storyline is slowly being set up.
The series remains faithful to the character traits from the source material, maintaining Walters’ iconic fourth wall breaks from the comics. This presents an interesting notion for the future of the MCU, as a character confirmed for future ensemble projects solely possesses a cognizance of the viewers watching her, and it appears this may be addressed in upcoming releases.
Beyond Walters, the series makes fourth wall breaks of its own, almost eerily showing how in touch the writers are with the fanbase, even to the extent of typical online debates amongst fans on social media, recounting their words verbatim. This is a testament that not only have the creators done their research into the various sects of fans, but they too are fans that witness these frequent discussions.
While I do often maintain that Marvel occasionally goes too far with its humour, the series has yet to make this transgression, and in fact, with the distinct nature of Walters’ personality, the series has been able to go beyond a few mere cheap laughs, even going as far as cheekily verbalising the thoughts of the viewers, leading to a room full of flustered laughs in the screening. This self-aware sense of humour is one of the greater benefits of employing fans to develop your projects and one I encourage the MCU to implement more in the future.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law features a delightful performance from Emmy® Award-winning actress Tatiana Maslany. While the series has made fantastic use of her upbeat, comical, and innocent attributes, I hope the series utilises her full potential. Having seen her several performances in Orphan Black, Maslany has demonstrated, perhaps more than anyone in Hollywood, the scope of her acting range. To not utilise her solemn potential (during appropriate moments) would be an incredible waste of her ability. There was a lick of this side of Jennifer’s character in the first episode, but more of that side of her would go a long way for the series.
Maslany comes packed with her range from previous performances, illustrating why she is deserving of a mainstay in Hollywood’s most successful entertainment franchise.
The ensemble cast members are just getting started, but it remains to be seen if they’ll have their chance to shine. Knowing the fans, Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gonzaga, and Josh Segarra will undoubtedly become fan favourites.