It’s been an interesting time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the arrival of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
This Disney Plus show, which recently aired its season finale, was really a program we’ve never experienced as MCU fans in terms of tone, story, and the fourth wall. It billed itself as a legal comedy and stayed pretty true to that format through most of the series.
Now that the finale has aired, we can analyze the show as a whole, which actually was a unique experience given how easy it is to focus on one episode at a time.
I largely enjoyed each episode on their own and each stood well on their own but how did they hold up as a cohesive unit? Let’s find out.
Warning: This review may contain light spoilers. Be sure to check out our individual reviews of the first two episodes as well as the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth installments.
The nine-episode She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, in short, is about the struggles of Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) as she juggles her new Hulk powers with her legal career.
Walters is the cousin of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and lives in Los Angeles. She gets into a car accident while driving with Bruce, accidently coming in contact with his blood and absorbing some of his Hulk powers.
She has better control over her powers as she can change at will and speak clearly in her Hulk form. She achieved this instantaneously rather than over time like her cousin.
Throughout the series, she struggles with that balance as the change affects her career, dating life, living arrangements, and many other areas. She also endures an added layer of misogynistic trolling from people online and in real life as they compare her constantly to her cousin.
She meets petty rival Titania (Jameela Jamil) as well as the villainous HulkKing, who runs a trolling website called Intelligencia. Jen’s interactions with Titania are more petty rivalries while Intelligencia proves to be a bit more of a threat by the end of the series.
There are also plenty of cameos throughout the series including Emil Blonsky/The Abomination (Tim Roth), Wong (Benedict Wong), Bruce Banner, and Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox).
Jen also makes it through her challenges with the help of her friends Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga), Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry), and Augustus “Pug” Pugliese (Josh Segarra). Luke Jacobson (Griffin Matthews) also helps design Jen’s suits at times in the series.
The tone is what makes She-Hulk: Attorney at Law stand out. It adheres to a 30-minute episode limit mostly and adopts a sitcom tone similar to New Girl. Furthermore, Jen breaks the fourth wall throughout the series, including in a big way in the season finale.
If the synopsis felt a little disjointed, it’s because the show was as well. I don’t say that in a bad way, but rather it embraced the sitcom format where episodes were loosely connected or largely standalone. This was a strength for me.
Furthermore, there were connections to the larger MCU thanks to the cameos and Jen’s relationship to Bruce, but largely, this show stood on its own.
Look, I’ve rode with the MCU since the beginning and its big picture storytelling was fantastic with Avengers: Endgame being a masterclass in tying it all together. Since that point, it’s dropped off in terms of connectivity with many Phase 4 shows and movies branching out on their own.
She-Hulk falls into this as it largely stands on its own from the rest of the world. There are references to events and characters, but outside of Bruce and Wong, those cameos don’t require much backstory.
I loved the idea of a sitcom set within the MCU that didn’t try to be your standard superhero show. I know it didn’t land with everyone and that’s ok, but I am always looking for a fresh approach and this one resonated with me.
That said, it was far from perfect.
Marvel Studios hasn’t tried this approach before so there were growing pains. The pacing throughout the season was uneven as some episodes thrived while others were forgettable.
I mentioned earlier, there was a loose overall story but She-Hulk was more Jen’s growth through a comedic lens. We didn’t get our traditional bad guys or evil plot. There were elements but never a cohesive arc that ran the whole season.
An issue with this was, at times, She-Hulk didn’t know what it was. We’d get elements of a more traditional superhero show but then we’d jump to the sitcom and vice versa.
On another note, I was ok with the 30-minute episode, but the constraint loomed heavy on occasion, especially in the final episode. The CGI was also rough at times.
As far as characters, Maslany was fantastic in this role. I loved how comfortable she seemed as she brought Jen to life in such a relatable way.
Side characters were great, but I thought Nikki Ramos, Mallory Book, and Luke Jacobson shined the most. We didn’t see much of Mallory so I hope she shows up more as she was good in her appearances.
Cameos thrived in this series as Emil Blonsky was great in every episode he appeared. Wong was my favorite as he played the straight man so well. The ubiquitous Wong has become a welcome sight whenever he appears throughout the MCU.
Verdict (4 out of 5 stars)
As far as first forays into the sitcom world, She-Hulk gave an admirable effort. It had plenty of faults and a bit of an identity crisis at times.
That said, creator Jessica Gao appeared to know what type of story she wanted to tell and it wasn’t going to be traditional. This fits the tone of She-Hulk as Jen was never going to be a traditional superhero. I mean, she told Bruce that in the first episode.
I would love to see Maslany and company return for a second season and lean further into the sitcom world. This cast was so much fun that it would be a disservice to never see them again.
I always love when creators take chances and Gao took plenty of them with She-Hulk. Many paid off while others fell flat.
Overall, this was a great show and worth your time, especially for fans of sitcoms and/or romantic comedies.
Featured Image: Marvel (via TV Overmind)
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