‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ Review: Tatiana Maslany Leads a Charming, Funny, and Thoughtful Marvel Series

The best thing Marvel ever did for their new shows was make them feel part of a distinct genre, apart from the nebulous, imprecise one of “superhero.” Moon Knight was part-mythological adventure, part-thriller. Ms. Marvel was a coming-of-age story infused with youthful energy. Now, the latest release, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law continues in that grand tradition, bringing such a refreshing dose of comedy, charm, and reliability that it really stands out among its peers — and that’s not just because the protagonist is occasionally 6’7″ and bright green.

The Disney+ series stars Tatiana Maslany as the titular She-Hulk, aka Jennifer Walters, a deputy district attorney, and cousin to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). After Bruce’s blood accidentally gets mixed with her own, Jen finds that her life has gotten wholly upended now that extreme emotions cause her to grow in height, strength, and muscle tone. Unlike her Avenger cousin, however, Jen is unwilling to buy into the “professional superhero” life, preferring to help people in her capacity as a lawyer. Of course, you know what they say about best-laid plans.

Unlike other Marvel shows, which often resemble eight-hour movies that break into episodes at the act break, She-Hulk feels like a proper, comedic procedural. Once the origin story side of things has been covered, the show settles very nicely into episodes that both fuel the larger narrative and also feature a case-of-the-week plot, all while leaving space for Jen Walters to grow as a character. On paper, she feels like she could very easily fall into the stereotype of a workaholic woman in her 30s who confuses bringing her work home with her for an active social life. While that is certainly how some people will likely read it, Maslany’s performance, along with careful writing and direction from showrunner/writer Jessica Gao and director Kat Coiro, save it from falling overboard into parody or carelessness. The writing fills the story with moments, both subtle and spoken, that really address what it feels like to be a woman these days — with your body, appearance, and life choices up for commentary by anyone and everyone who claims to care about you.

There is something inherently vulnerable and relatable in the way Jen is portrayed, both in and out of her She-Hulk persona. She is not a lonely workaholic at the expense of all other relationships. She sees her family for dinner, she spends time with Bruce whenever he’s around, and she’s best friends with her paralegal Nikki (a very charming Ginger Gonzaga), with the two socializing frequently outside the office. However, Jen’s loneliness comes across in a far more relatable way. She longs for the close connection of a relationship because the people in her life like Bruce and Nikki have lives of their own. For those of us still single in our 30s, this hit pretty close to home — as does the absolutely grim state of online dating. It really is brutal out here.

That’s not to say the show is a downer, or a depressing examination of the state of loneliness in the 21st century. She-Hulk is genuinely, laugh-out-loud funny. Jen’s fourth wall breaks are used to heighten the moment, or provide needed exposition, but they never take the place of actual storytelling. She also uses the moment not just to comment on the surrounding story, but to try and gauge the audience’s reactions, and it will be interesting to see in the coming weeks just how accurate she manages to be.

As much as She-Hulk is physically strong enough to carry a story on her own, the strength of a series like this comes in part from the supporting cast. Gonzaga, as mentioned, is a delight and brings a cheerful, yet no-nonsense energy to every scene she’s in. As Jen’s former co-worker Dennis, Drew Matthews exudes a kind of un-self-aware “lawyer bro” energy that will feel over the top to anyone blessed to have never actually met anyone like that in real life — while on the flip side, Josh Segarra’s Augustus “Pug” Pugliese is such an earnest sweetheart it makes your heart melt just a little. While the four episodes available for review didn’t feature much of Jameela Jamil’s Titania, I suspect any character that calls themselves a “superhero influencer” has amazing comedic potential.

A recent teaser for the series hinted at all the cameos to come in the series, and it’s true. In addition to Ruffalo, the series features the return of Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) and Abomination/Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), first seen in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. While Ruffalo and Wong play lighter versions of the characters we’ve seen them inhabit across previous MCU films, it’s Roth’s Blonsky who is the real surprise. He is pretty far removed from the sarcastic, snarling man he was in The Incredible Hulk, instead leaning more into a disarming kind of charm where you’re never sure if he’s being 100% earnest or lying to Jen’s face. The performance also allows Roth to tap into his own natural comedic timing, which makes it one of the more standout cameos.

The much-talked-about CGI for She-Hulk isn’t perfect. That tends to happen with short turnaround times and long work hours. The good thing is it’s not all equally awkward looking, and the storytellers have gone out of their way to make sure that Jen appears onscreen in her human form more often than not. Maslany’s performance is strong enough to lend empathy and charm to the scenes where she appears as She-Hulk, but there’s no replacement for real human expression that hasn’t passed through a computer. Altogether, though, the first four episodes of She-Hulk are a delightful ride. The performances of the cast and the chemistry they have with one another far outweigh any complaints anyone could have about the CGI. If the final five episodes are anywhere near this charming, then Marvel has an absolute win on their hands.

Rating: A

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres on Disney+ on August 18.

6 thoughts on “‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ Review: Tatiana Maslany Leads a Charming, Funny, and Thoughtful Marvel Series”

  1. This is one of the most misunderstood Laws of Life due to the belief that all events are predestined to transpire as a result of some previous action. It is true from the standpoint of action-reaction that expectations of future events should come to fruition if no alternative adjustments are made, simply because the root cause was set in motion. Probate Law Firm Chandler


Leave a Comment