Although ‘WandaVision’ attempted to pay homage to traditional sitcoms, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has proven to be the first true comedy set in the MCU. The series, starring Tatiana Maslany, follows the titular She-Hulk, a wise-cracking, fourth-wall-breaking heroine.
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She has worked hard for her career as Jennifer Walters, the cousin of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). But her life is thrown into disarray when her blood comes into touch with Bruce’s in the immediate aftermath of an accident. And, surprise, surprise, she is a superhero. While that premise seems intriguing on paper, what we get is a sitcom that is weak on comedy and lacks any form of legal drama.
She-Hulk Season 1: Our Non-Spoiler Review
The show initially created the sense that it knew exactly what it was supposed to do. With Jen as the lead, it set a self-aware and fourth-wall-breaking tone as a legal comedy TV show featuring a superhero. Jen was easy to relate to. Thanks to Tatiana Maslany’s instantly charming attitude, combined with her incredible talent and charisma.
Her sequences with the special guest actors, which included Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth, Benedict Wong, and, most notably, Charlie Cox (Daredevil) went quite well with excellent chemistry all around. Tatiana Maslany is an excellent pick for the role. And she alone made it worthwhile to watch the show despite its flaws.
The CGI work featuring She-Hulk was disappointing. Granted, this is a TV show with a limited budget. But Disney+Marvel have enough money to show their heroes some respect. Ruffalo’s Hulk was far more impressive than the lead actor’s, who appeared rushed. The character and the show deserved more, but Marvel’s problems with visual effects studios are a topic for another thread.
Following an engaging first few episodes, another major problem emerged. A lack of narrative direction was apparent throughout the season. With each show 30 minutes in length, the screenplay and dialogue needed to be tighter and more fleshed out. The script seems more inclined on being snarky and rebellious than on rewarding viewers with intriguing narratives or entertaining humor.
Jen’s internal conflict provided an opportunity for her to demonstrate her worth as a qualified lawyer, which may have made for intriguing viewing. However, circumstances around mid-season drew her away from the courtroom, so her legal work in the show lacked focus. However, among her notable cases, she successfully defended Emil Blonsky and Wong as a display of her legal prowess.
Our final verdict
Despite all the complaints about the writing, storyline, and CGI work throughout the season, the show arguably redeemed itself in the last few episodes. The season-ending was unexpected and refreshing. It demonstrated that the show had the potential of becoming what it initially set out to be i.e. “A Legal-Comedy Drama.” Provided, the writers showed a bit more commitment to their characters.
Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk benefited greatly from the self-aware comedy making her quite amusing throughout the show. Often times Jen broke the fourth wall and revealed that she was in on the joke, which added a layer of reliability to the series. As it stands now, She-Hulk’s overarching goal lacks clarity in the absence of an antagonist. Combined with weak writing and little to no character development, Jen’s fourth-wall-breaking jokes become the only saving grace of an otherwise flat show.
The show also foreshadowed Hulk’s future in the MCU, which is long overdue for Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of the huge, green, angry guy. Most importantly, by referencing the MCU’s recent issues, it appears that Marvel’s top brass are aware of the situation and will hopefully take corrective action.
It’s disheartening to see that Tatiana Maslany’s apparent talents aren’t being fully utilized. And she definitely deserves better material to exhibit her full ability. Hopefully, Season 2, if it comes out, will correct these mistakes and deliver the true She-Hulk we know Jennifer Walters can become.