Before it even released on Disney+ Hotstar, Marvel’s latest superhero show She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has been review bombed on most major platforms. It seems many aren’t too happy about the CGI, or maybe it is the tone, or simply the fact that it’s a female superhero. The irony is that She-Hulk grapples with these same sexist stereotypes, and jibes and makes fun of them in an irreverent manner making it the best MCU show this year. Also read: She-Hulk director Kat Coiro says MCU show sees Tatiana Maslany take over from Mark Ruffalo
At its heart, She-Hulk is not even a superhero show. It’s a show about a superhero dealing with real-life issues due to the recent upheaval in her life. This time it’s lawyer Jennifer Walters, whose secret identity has been revealed to the world and now she must live as a celebrity, realising her powers are both a gift and a curse. It’s not a new premise. Heck, it’s quite similar to Marvel’s previous show Ms Marvel, which also dealt with a reluctant female superhero coming to terms with her powers. But how it deals with it makes She-Hulk stand apart; and in a very good way.
She-Hulk introduces to the Marvel Cinematic Universe the concept of breaking the fourth wall, which we have come to love in shows like Fleabag and of course, the Deadpool films. The show’s director Kat Coiro wasted no time in reminding me last week that in the comics, She-Hulk has been doing it ‘way before’ Deadpool. She is the OG fourth-wall breaker. And when Jen does it on the show, it makes for some of the most fun moments.
The show proves that Marvel’s web series are getting more relatable and as real-life as possible in a world full of parallel universes, time travel, and god-killing warriors. These shows tackle real issues of real people. If Loki was about existential crisis, WandaVision explored grief, and Ms Marvel showed a coming-of-age story. She-Hulk takes it forward by bringing issues like sexism at workplace and the cesspool that is dating apps. It’s a show from the perspective of a woman in her 30s, trying to find that work-life balance, while also battling demons from an alternate dimension. Jen Walters could very well be Fleabag on steroids.
But that doesn’t mean the show isn’t inherently Marvel. There are lots of cameos thrown in to connect the show to the larger Marvelverse, most notably Tim Roth, Benedict Wong, Charlie Cox, and of course Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. The cameos do appear to be distractions initially as they don’t let us get us invested in Jennifer’s story. But Tatiana Masalany’s brilliance never lets us get detached. She is the beating heart of the show. The other actors do their parts well but Mark Ruffalo seems tired by now. He feels out of place in a different tone of the MCU and his Hulk feels like a watered-down version of who he once was. Jameela Jamil as the superpowered influencer Titania is a fun addition to the MCU, and one can’t wait to see more of her in the future.
Is the CGI bad? Of course, it is. But that’s not something unique to She-Hulk. The CGI has been noticeably sub-par in most Marvel productions of late, even multimillion dollar films like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man. That’s got more to do with Marvel studios working their VFX divisions like sweatshops and less with the show in itself. But you learn to look past it eventually.
Questions have been raised about the tone of the show and how Marvel is diluting the seriousness of the stakes in MCU with these lighter shows. I do understand why some fans would feel that but that’s not true for all Marvel shows. For every She-Hulk, there is a WandaVision. I feel marvel Studios is trying to find a spot in every niche, every genre with its content, so that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has something for everyone. And that’s good, as long as the content is good, which She-Hulk is. Go watch the show not because it’s feminist or because it’s different, but just because it’s really good and deserves at least a watch before you decide to hate it.
Series: She-Hulk: Attorney At Law
Creator: Jessica Gao
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Ginger Gonzaga, Jameela Jamil, Josh Segarra, Jon Bass, with Renée Elise Goldsberry, Tim Roth, Benedict Wong, and Mark Ruffalo