She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Series Review (Spoiler Free)
A sassy lawyer, who unwillingly obtains superpowers, is thrown into an existential crisis as her professional & private life start to derail.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Comedy
Created By: Jessica Gao
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Reneé Elise Goldsberry, Jameela Jamil, Tim Roth, Jon Bass, Benedict Wong, & Mark Ruffalo.
Average Run Time: 30-40 min.
No. of Episodes: 9
Release Period:18 August - 13 October 2022
I am going to be honest here! After the absolute mediocracy that was Phase 4 in terms of storytelling, especially in the television series sector, I was worried about the She-Hulk project. Not only because all trailers looked awfully, but because there is a trend going on as of late in Hollywood, where a studio is knowingly releasing a poor/average product and tries to save itself from bad reviews by making it political before release. So, what did I think of She-Hulk? Well, it is mediocre, proving again that Marvel has no clue how to handle their female characters on the big, or small screen!
Jennifer Walters, the cousin of superhero Bruce Banner, tries to navigate the complicated life of a single, 30-something attorney, specialising in cases involving superhumans. She also happens to become the green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered She-Hulk.
Let’s start with the obvious! She-Hulk is a real mixed bag and mess screenplay-wise! The writers were unsure about what to do with the character, taking the plot to bizarre places at times, with a lot of re-writes. It has brilliant segments that take sudden 180 degrees in the next scene, with awful decisions! It also seems as if the writing staff, did not fully comprehend who the character of She-Hulk ultimately is.
In the comics, She-Hulk was never a female copy of the Hulk. Her story, first published in the early 1980s, was supposed to deviate from that of the green rage monster dramatically. Instead of a “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” duplication, Marvel wanted the character to be more like a strong amazonian goddess. This was ultimately achieved, through the explanation that due to the small radiation dosage obtained from Banner's blood transfusion, Jenniffer Walters had still control of her alter ego mentally. In a later narrative, while helping Morbius with a legal matter, she would also gain control of her physical transformation.
Disney’s MCU doesn’t understand that pitting Jennifer Walters and Bruce Banner against each other in the first episode, with the lead stating that she is a better version than her cousin, simply because she is a woman. No path in which the character develops, no complications or obstacles which she needs to learn to overcome. Then there is the courtroom-drama aspect that is barely used, let alone explored. Finally, the series takes a complete nose-dive when the main character herself ridicules her source material, as well as the whole superhero genre, alienating fans of the MCU.
There are moments of brilliance - Episode eight being among my favourite! - which made it so much more frustrating when they did not commit fully to them. The overall self-awareness of the character being in an MCU entity was fun, especially when poking holes at it. As was the in-show, calling out of misogynistic, white men - which are out there trolling! The issue is that the writers don’t know when to stop, taking it too far, insulting everyone.
One of the stronger points this show has is the dialogue; especially for Jen’s best friend Nikki Ramos, who is a scene-stealer with witty, funny remarks! The Dialogue is generally very meta, plus self-aware, with the lead breaking the fourth wall each episode.
Let's get into the cast and characters; Tatiana Maslany is great with the material given. She sells the internal loneliness Walters feels while putting on a straight face for the outside world. For such a talent, I simply wish that her character would have been better constructed because Jessica Walters is an absolute mary-sue! She is hard to connect with, as she is already introduced as being pretty much fantastic in mastering her powers, without the need to learn any new skills. She makes herself further unlikeable, by verbally throwing all men under the bus, when she herself, is dating a parade of despicable human beings.
Nikki Ramos, portrayed by Ginger Gonzaga, is by far the best character in the sitcom! Gonzaga gives an amazing, charming and to some extent, cynical performance that is very much likeable. Nikki, who is a paralegal working for Jen, lives a free-of-boundaries lifestyle, being a small rule-breaker. She is sarcastic, very witty yet a true friend who is always there for Jen!
Tim Roth returns as Emil Blonsky, a.k.a the Abomination, from The Incredible Hulk. While I appreciate Roth’s performance, his role is not the same as in the film. Blonsky is a completely different character while acknowledging what transpired in the movie, which is simply bizarre, giving the whole premise a massive plot hole. While I liked the idea of a possible reformed Blonsky who found spirituality, I thought that his con-artistic personality is very out of character.
The cameos of Bruce Banner/Matt Murdock, reprised by actors Mark Ruffalo and Charlie Cox, are nicely woven into the plot, making absolute sense as Bruce is Walters’ cousin, while Murdock is an attorney himself. To my surprise, Banner was in much more episodes than I initially expected.
The cinematography for She-Hulk is another mixed bag. There are intriguing shot compositions used; from the pilot’s first-person, blurry perspective, when Walters turns for the first few times, to the masterfully captured action in the eighth episode. Then there are other fight sequences, where it is unrecognisable what is happening, due to shaky-cam being used, plus chopped-up editing. However, most annoying are the constant, sudden shift to close-ups, when Jen breaks the fourth wall. It was fun the first few times but becomes old by the tenth time.
The CGI effects are overall mediocre at best! The first episode, where Jen is training with Bruce in her Hulk persona, looks still the best, from there on it goes downhill pretty fast. The character still looks best during night-time sequences, with the effects team upping their game again in the eighth episode. The excuse for the terrible effects comes explained as a pun in the finale, as if that would make it ok?!?
Verdict: I stand to my opinion that Disney, and to that extension Marvel Studios, has a real issue with depicting its heroines correctly on screen. Yes, Wanda Maximoff might have been the only one done justice in her show, as well as playing the antagonist in Multiverse of Madness. Kamala Kahn’s own series was fun tool, until around the mid-episode. However, most female characters are done poorly! Captain Marvel, has an emotionless, one-dimensional personality, Natasha Romanoff was granted her own movie way too late, and Jennifer Walters, well she is a rude know-it-all, with a crusade against men, superheroes overall plus the whole MCU entity and its fandom. Poorly written, though it does have its moments, with sub-par camera work and at times excruciatingly bad CGI. I was hoping for a smart superhero-courtroom sitcom, but what I got was a mediocre series about… well, I don’t know. It’s a 5.0 out of 10.
I know She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was a very divisive MCU premise, so I am interested in hearing your opinion! Leave a comment below to let me know what you thought of this Disney+ release! Thank you for reading & if you like the content, please subscribe!