Given Marvel’s recent shift towards promoting female heroes – despite frequent hopping on the line of genuine, thoughtful inclusion and passing, half-baked “girl power” moments – it was only a matter of time before we saw a She-Hulk adaptation would. on the small or big screen. The polarizing perspectives of Marvel fans, some critical of the effectiveness of female inclusion and others proclaiming the demise of the “M-She-U,” are harnessed and confronted in this series.
Tatiana Maslany plays Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin who absorbed an accidental but consequential amount of his blood and became a Hulk herself. With a successful legal career and a determination to avoid superheroism, Jennifer shuns her new reality until she is denied the ability to keep it private. Not only is she faced with managing an entirely new facet of her physical condition while trying to maintain her established life, she is also tasked with confronting the sexism and exploitation of her newfound fame as a female superhero.
While “She-Hulk” addresses the culture of misogyny as a societal trait and a sector of Marvel fandom, it’s not overly serious or overly commentated on. Like every other installment in Marvel’s expansive filmography, the script features the same ole meta-humor and ill-mixed punch lines. Marvel’s humor is predictable, and the jokes in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are no exception.
While not every attempt at a zinger lands, those that do are laughable, and the show is most successful with its physical comedy as Jennifer learns and embraces her Hulk strength. The fight scenes in the series are creative and fast-paced without neglecting the brawn of the fight for laughs. We get a taste of what the power of She-Hulk looks like, and with fun cameos scattered throughout, we can experience the joy of seeing other characters in action too.
Prior to the show’s release, many discussions concerned its CGI. And yes, it’s crazy. In its favor, the low-resolution previews fans have already seen have smashed expectations. But the more you see it within the show, the more you conform and the less garish the bad CGI gets.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a fun series with good action, decent comedy and feminist thoughtfulness. It addresses the differences in gender perception and representation by the media and society at large, the specificity and power of female anger, and the enforced monolith expected of female heroes. Is it profound? Not in the least, but while more female portrayal is always a positive addition to Marvel adaptations, it’s neither necessary nor desirable that every female heroic story be taken seriously and aggressively outlined with bullet points on feminist theory and reality. Women want to see women as women, and while thoughtfulness is expected, making the existence of female characters solely dependent on femininity’s struggles is not feminism.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law carefully chooses which topics to emphasize and lets the rest be the entertainment we’ve come to expect.
The first four episodes were screened for review.