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‘She-Hulk’ showcases the best of Marvel’s signature humor

‘She-Hulk’ showcases the best of Marvel’s signature humor

‘She-Hulk’ showcases the best of Marvel’s signature humor
September 24
12:00 2022

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” a new entry in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, was released on Aug. 18.

The series presents itself as a legal comedy set in a superhero-dominated world. It immediately differentiates itself by acknowledging and poking fun at tired tropes with the titular character’s fourth wall breaks.

Tatiana Maslany plays She-Hulk, also known as Jennifer Walters. Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth return as Bruce Banner/Hulk and Abomination, respectively, and fan favorite Benedict Wong adds another connection to the Marvel universe.

Maslany perfectly captures a charismatic and relatable protagonist forced into a superhero life without warning. Ruffalo and Roth are there to acknowledge the last solo Hulk project. The pair play their characters well with witty dialogue and character development.

The first episode starts with Banner and Walters getting into a car accident, where she comes into contact with his gamma-irradiated blood. This leads to Walters transforming into a Hulk-like monster who must train on an isolated island to control her inner rage. She-Hulk instantly stands out from her cousin because she can maintain both of her personas at once with little to no training.

Walters decides to balance her lawyer and superhero lives, which is the basis for the rest of the series. Maslany’s She-Hulk is a multi-layered character facing numerous obstacles, like sexism in the office and fear of walking alone at night. However, She-Hulk isn’t completely defined by these struggles. She manages to overcome them by embracing both her newfound strength and courage.

There is an online vocal minority who heavily criticizes the series and She-Hulk by calling attention to unconventional gender roles. These “fans” disregard the existence of She-Hulk, who was first introduced in 1980 in the comic “Savage She-Hulk.” In response, the series expertly acknowledges and exposes this online backlash in the plot of one of its episodes.

The series presents these hurtful haters as the consequence of revealing Walters’ powers and secret identity to the world. She constantly has to fight for her job and societal status as a superheroine living in today’s climate.

She wants to distance herself from her famous cousin and stand on her own without facing the same expectations. Despite this, She-Hulk herself is dubbed the derivative title by a fan comparing her to the Hulk. This sticks as a fun running gag throughout the show.  

Humor can be subjective, but the series immediately identifies itself as a comedy from the start. It continues to maintain this theme throughout the first four episodes.

Social media chatter labels the series as proof of Martin Scorsese’s argument that Marvel is akin to a theme park and not “cinema.” She-Hulk isn’t trying to be a serious or epic entry in the comic book genre, but one more akin to a 30-minute sitcom.

There’s a new element to the MCU with She-Hulk’s humorous fourth wall breaks throughout the story. People can criticize it for copying Deadpool, but She-Hulk predates him by several years. These breaks add a refreshing sense of meta humor and character insight to the series. Walters even pokes fun at the multiple weekly cameos while affirming she’s still the main character.  

Another controversy is She-Hulk’s CGI and visual effects, which looked rough from the first trailer but improved on the final release. There still are certain shots and instances where She-Hulk’s facial movements and expressions dive into the uncanny valley. Despite some CGI hiccups, the series looks on par with other MCU movies and shows.

The action scenes are few and far between, but are engaging and entertaining due to She-Hulk’s super strength. One action sequence that really stands out is a mystical battle with demonic goblins against Wong and She-Hulk in episode four. 

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” is a hilarious legal comedy and fun episodic romp set in the ever-expanding MCU. The harsh criticism online is both unfounded and irrespective of the show itself, which happens to call out and expose this undeserved backlash.

Maslany’s portrayal of She-Hulk is amusing and heartfelt through relatable problems like online dating and hangovers. Her fourth wall breaks bring life and energy to the show in the short 30-minute runtime provided. Each episode focuses on a compact and fun day in the life of a lawyer turned 7-foot-tall green superwoman.

There’s potential for the series to build on these strengths and finish strong with a worthy addition to the Marvel superhero roster.  

Joaquin’s rating: 4/5

Featured Illustration by Sriya Vempati

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Joaquin Fernandez

Joaquin Fernandez

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