The Incredible Hulk played a major role in bringing a powerful-but-flawed comic-book character into my impressionable years. As a Child of the ’80s, I preferred to purchase my DC Comics (leaning heavily on Batman), while watching the Marvel superheroes on TV (usually in cartoons). I was a huge fan of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Naturally, I was gutted when the show ended and the three TV movies that aired afterward left me wanting so much more. Decades later, two Universal films were released based on the character and I was thankful that Marvel finally reacquired the character’s rights.
All of that leads up to Disney+ premiering the new She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series tomorrow. Listed as an action-adventure comedy, the show is quite enjoyable from the limited number of episodes that were initially available to the media. Maybe I’m really enjoying the show due to the CBS series that aired many years earlier. It could be I’m a fan because of the previous track record of Marvel Studios. Or perhaps I just want to see another modern-day, green-skinned hero bring justice to the wronged. She-Hulk is that… kind of.
While taking a road trip with her cousin, Bruce Banner (Hello, Mark Ruffalo!), Jennifer Walters (played by Tatiana Maslany) wrecks her car during a brief encounter with an alien spaceship. It all happens so quickly. As she’s assisting an unconscious Bruce out of the wreckage, his blood drips into her open wound, providing a lethal dose of gamma radiation that rocks her world.
Luckily, Walters has a superhero in the family who’s able to assist her transformation. But unlike Bruce, when she hulks out to her six-foot-seven-inch super-size, she has no alter ego. She’s all Jennifer, all the time, even if her clothes don’t exactly tend to tear — they seem to grow with her body at times, although spandex is discussed.
She’s not interested in becoming a superhero and after getting schooled by Smart Hulk in how to deal with her new-found powers, she abandons him. Hoping to return to a normal life as an attorney, those plans are stalled when a courtroom attack outs her secret identity. Will she be able to avoid stressful situations while living a dual life? Tune into Disney+ to find out, faithful fans…
“When people start seeing you as a monster, that never goes away.”
While I enjoyed getting to know Jennifer, it’s safe to assume this is Marvel Studios’ first TRUE attempt at creating a comedy show within the MCU, and it’s mostly successful (taking nods from Thor: Love and Thunder). Created by Jessica Gao (who won an Emmy for writing Rick and Morty‘s “Pickle Rick“), the biggest takeaway I had after watching three of the first four episodes (bad connections with online streamers will never get old) was enjoying the character’s breaking of the fourth wall, something NEVER done in the original Hulk series.
This is a character who knows she’s living inside a TV series. She has the ins and outs of the Marvel Cinematic Universe down pat and her stories reference Love and Thunder, as well as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In fact, some of the best moments come from the show’s guest stars. Benedict Wong’s Sorcerer Supreme has a beef with a cut-rate magician, Tim Roth’s Abomination enters a fabled fight club and apparently Charlie Cox makes an appearance as Matt Murdock/Daredevil (although I didn’t see it). These crossover characters make this small show feel bigger, like it’s helping move the entire MCU forward, which brings me to my next point.
As a lawyer, Jen Walters was having a hard time fielding cases at her firm. But as She-Hulk, she heads up the Superhuman Law Division, in essence, breaking the glass ceiling for her character. And She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finally connects with me, breaking through Phase Four of the streaming shows, as one which I really enjoyed watching.
Back in the day, I enjoyed watching multiple David E. Kelley courtroom shows (Private Practice was good, but Boston Legal was boss!), so I can enjoy the courtly territory this show is treading (especially if it concerns comic book characters). And at times, it reminds me of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (which was one of my Adult Swim faves back in the day). In it, various Hanna Barbara characters made crossover cameos for various lawsuits. I don’t know if Kevin Feige ever watched the ‘toon, but there are definitely some similarities in She-Hulk.
It might take Jen Walters a little bit of time to grow into her new role within the MCU, but She-Hulk: Attorney at Law hits the ground running from the very first episode. I look forward to seeing her character make waves within with the mostly all-male superhero club in the near future as Phase Five gets ever closer for the studio.