TL;DR – This week could be titled ‘backstory the episode’, but I think it worked because it got all of this out of the way while also letting Tatiana Maslany shine.
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
She-Hulk Attorney at Law Review –
When the new slate of Disney+ MCU shows was announced, a lot piqued my interest, but I have to be honest, She-Hulk was not one of them. The idea did not click with me, and I didn’t have the joy of the comics to carry me through. But. When I heard that Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black fame was being cast in the lead. Well, I can be honest and say that one casting choice made this a much watch, and now that I have seen the first episode, I can say this was a good choice.
So to set the scene, we open in on Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), who is preparing a significant closing argument for a case she is working on. But before we go there, she talks to the audience and tells them she will explain her backstory first. Several months earlier, she was on a trip with her cousin Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) when a Sakaaran ship dropped out of the sky and caused their car to crash. As Jennifer tries to help Bruce out of the crashed car, some of his blood falls into a cut on Jennifer’s arm, infecting her with the same gamma radiation that turned Bruce into the Hulk. When Jennifer wakes up, she is in Bruce’s lab in Mexico because it is time for her to learn what it means to be the She-Hulk. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
The first thing I liked this week was the narrative that took a significant risk, and I think it pulled it off. This first episode could have been titled ‘all the backstory you need to know, crunched down into one episode’. As Jennifer mentions in her fourth-wall break ‘you won’t be able to focus on this fun lawyer show until you know about that.” And to be fair, I think she is right. Packing all that training montage into this first episode lets you both concentrate on the story and use it as a launching platform to move forward. So we get a training and mindfulness montage and boulder throwing contest, and it is all engaging.
The next strength was how they created the character of She-Hulk, because it is refreshing to see someone who is not instantly happy that their world has dramatically changed. Jennifer didn’t ask to be a Hulk, it was thrust upon her by accident, and you feel that in the story. I liked the banter between her and Bruce and how there were layers of competition and also a bit of jealousy. You do feel that both characters are related but also that there is some estrangement. Because you get that Jennifer knows what Bruce went through and is understandably unhappy with that direction. We got hints of the outside world with her friend Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga) and antagonist Titania (Jameela Jamil), but not much more than that.
The set-up of the episode also means that we get a good look at the digital work they did to create the character of She-Hulk. For me, I think it worked because it hit in that widow of clearly being ‘Hulk-like’ but also doing its own thing. Also, given how much work went into making Smart Hulk for Endgame, I do think they got close to that even on their TV budget. Moving away from the training montage, I did like the small parts of the narrative that helped build the world. Some of these were big recurring things like if Captain America/Steve Rogers was a virgin, some were poignant like that Inside Out reference, and some spoke about where the show is heading, like the women in the bathroom coming to Jennifer’s aid.
In the end, do we recommend She-Hulk Attorney at Law: A Normal Amount of Rage? Yes, yes, we do. It was a fun first episode that didn’t waste time with faff and cut to the story’s heart. I liked Tatiana Maslany and Mark Ruffalo’s performances, and I look forward to seeing where this goes.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of She-Hulk Attorney at Law
Directed by – Kat Coiro
Written by – Jessica Gao
Created by – Jessica Gao
Based On – She-Hulk by Stan Lee & John Buscema
Production/Distribution Companies – Marvel Studios & Disney+
Starring – Tatiana Maslany, Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gonzaga & Mark Ruffalo with Steve Coulter, Drew Matthews, Brandon Hirsch, George Bryant, Monica Garcia Bradley, Tiffany Denise Hobbs, Toni Bryce, Arrianna Marie Hagan & Maliah Arrayah.