Review: “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” Makes You Want to Go Green
With its latest original, live-action series, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” Marvel Studios treats us to a special summer surprise we did not know we needed: a funny, female, 6-foot-7-inch superhero, who also happens to be an attorney… a GREEN one.
Debuting exclusively this Thursday on Disney+, this new incarnation of the Hulk introduces us to Jennifer Walters (Emmy Award-winning actress Tatiana Maslany), a 30-something lawyer who, through a series of incredible events, winds up sharing the same superhuman powers as her cousin Bruce Banner — AKA the Incredible Hulk of The Avengers fame. Unfortunately, these special skills make her virtually unemployable in her chosen profession… until one of the city’s biggest law firms takes on her on to specialize in representing other superhumans in legal trouble.
Fans of Marvel comics may recall that the She-Hulk character was introduced to readers in February 1980, in “The Savage She-Hulk” comic series by the late Stan Lee and John Buscema. She-Hulk joined the Avengers in 1982 and soon after featured in the “Fantastic Four” series. Several years later, writer/artist John Byrne created the “Sensational She-Hulk” comic series, infusing the character with a wry sense of humor, marked by her talking directly to readers in a move called “breaking the fourth wall.”
This new series captures the essence of She-Hulk’s self-awareness and slyness, along with Marvel’s by-now familiar over-the-top action sequences. Although each of the nine episodes clocks in around 30 minutes, viewers will forget that they’re watching a TV show — each feels like a small movie, replete with larger-than-life characters — both villains and good guys — explosions, and shows of Hulk-like strength to match.
While the action is undoubtedly one of the show’s main stars, it detracts nothing from the stellar cast, starting with the actress playing She-Hulk herself.
Is there anything that Tatiana Maslany can’t do? Those of you already familiar with this brilliant actress, perhaps dating back to her acclaimed sci-fi series “Orphan Black,” know the answer is no. Those of you new to Maslany’s talents are in for a treat. The aforementioned series, which ran on BBCAmerica for five seasons several years ago, featured Maslany portraying multiple characters — clones, each with a unique personality, appearance and mannerisms. For Maslany, slipping into one clone personality from another seamlessly was no problem — in fact, it earned her an Emmy Award along with many other accolades. She relies on that skill again in her new series, as she effortlessly morphs from the button-down attorney into the giant-sized superheroine and back again, sometimes within seconds in the same scene.
Maslany’s clever asides to the audience let us know that she’s in on the joke — that what’s happening to her in front of us is pretty unbelievable. And yet, somehow, that makes us suspend our disbelief even more willingly, as we go along for the ride while she navigates such perils as evil masterminds, family dynamics, and online dating.
In addition to Maslany, the legal comedy series welcomes Marvel Cinematic Universe veterans like Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination, and Benedict Wong as Wong from the “Doctor Strange” films. Other standouts in the cast include Jameela Jamil as the calculating social media influencer Titania, Ginger Gonzaga as Jen’s BFF Nikki, and Tony-award winner (for her role as Angelica Schuyler in Broadway’s “Hamilton”) Renée Elise Goldsberry.
Head writer Jessica Gao has imbued She-Hulk’s story not only with humor, but lots of heart, and the character’s relationships with both her family and friends seem very real — in fact, the close friendship between Jen and Nikki is a highlight of the show. She-Hulk also exudes a quite literal sense of “girl power”, obviously in her oversized strength, but more subtly in her general state of being — she’s a determined young career woman with a strong sense of self. This should come as no surprise, as, in addition to head writer Gao, all of the episodes were directed by women (Kat Coiro directed Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and Anu Valia Episodes 5, 6, 7), a phenomenon that is fortunately becoming more common in the MCU.
One of the tag lines I’ve seen floating around for this series riffs on the old line about the original Hulk: You’ll like her when she’s angry.
I’m betting that after the first few minutes of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” you’ll do more than like her. You’ll love her!
Check out the official trailer for “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law”, which streams exclusively on Disney+ beginning Thursday, August 18, 2022.
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