I heard about the upcoming show based on the Marvel character She-Hulk. I’m not too familiar with the character beyond the fact that she is a lawyer, Bruce Banner’s cousin, and also has Hulk abilities. Tatiana Maslany’s casting as the title character did have my interest despite having some doubts from seeing the trailers. Overall, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a very mixed bag. There are some good performances, mainly with Maslany as the title character, and it has some good moments. However, it is let down by the messy and confused writing, and humour that mostly misses (especially with its meta-aspects).
One thing I can praise She-Hulk for is the fact that it actually utilised its TV structure. With the exception of WandaVision, all the live action MCU shows feel like stories that could’ve served as individual films, but were instead stretched out into 6 episodes. Regardless of the quality, it is good that the show treats itself as an actual tv show. The writing is easily the worst part of the show and lets everything done. She Hulk aims to be a comedy first and foremost, so it’s a shame that the comedy itself is very hit or miss. I’ve seen worse comedy but there are so many painful moments where it doesn’t work at all. A notable element is that they have Jennifer/She Hulk talk directly to the audience and breaking the fourth wall as she makes comments about the situation and talks specifically to the audience. It is definitely going for 4th wall breaking similar to Fleabag, but doesn’t pull it off nearly as well. Even if you put aside the comedy, the rest of the writing isn’t good either. The plotlines are not interesting, even those that had some real potential such as Jennifer Walters becoming She-Hulk while in the shadow of her established cousin ultimately doesn’t amount to much. This show is 9 episodes long and while the length of each episode is between 30-40 minutes, it feels like a chore watching most of them. There is just no drive in the show, and you don’t feel like much has actually progressed. I find the low stakes approach refreshing compared to all the typical end of the world stakes stories, but even with the more personal approach, it is hard to care about what’s happening. While I do appreciate the tone being consistently comedic instead of jumping between comedy and drama, I couldn’t take most things that happened seriously. This show is also a painful case of being written by people who are chronically online (funny considering that it makes fun of chronically online people). Whether it be the dialogue, characters or the ‘satire’, it really takes you out of it. Obviously, there are people who already hate the show because they are sexist, and so the show predicted things correctly and pre-emptively makes fun of those people. There is a plotline that focusses on this, but it isn’t that great. If anything, it feels like it was ticking the box so that they can say that they acknowledged it. One of the more interesting aspects of the show going into it was the courtroom aspect considering that Jennifer is a lawyer, however that aspect disappointed. It ended up being laughable and more unintentionally funny than intentionally funny. Leading up to its release, the showrunner admitted that they couldn’t write procedural legal drama and just gave up, it certainly showed here.
That’s not to say that the show is bad all the way through, there are some episodes that work better than others. Episode 8 includes Daredevil and was the highlight of the show. He was an enjoyable character to watch but he wasn’t the sole reason why the episode worked. After watching it, I was actually starting to feel good about the show. Then the finale happened, which really sticks out as having some of my biggest issues after watching. The specifics of the finale episode involve spoilers, so I’ll avoid going into too much depth. What I will say is that it gets further meta than it was before and effectively makes fun of the way that the show is ending and particularly the way most MCU stories end. The joke can be simplified to “this conclusion its building too is dumb isn’t it? Well that’s the joke, we wrote it to be dumb and we are in on the joke”. The truth is that if they did continue with their plotlines without the meta twist, it would’ve been an underwhelming finale. However, this feels felt like a cop out by making fun of a possible finale that they wrote themselves into in the first place. Despite the silliness of the show, ironically, I think that it was too serious for it to work. For as silly as these plotlines were, you nonetheless paid attention to them, but they don’t get any form of resolution. It attempts to ‘satirise’ the MCU and despite my criticisms with the franchise on the whole, I don’t endorse any of the Marvel products doing this. It would inevitably come across as hollow, it doesn’t help with how smug it felt. I heard some say that the last episode saved it for them, but it was what sank the show for me and made me feel like I wasted my time.
Tatiana Maslany who plays the title character of Jennifer Walters/She Hulk and she’s probably the best part of the whole show. The writing for her character can be annoying, but Maslany is trying and she brought more to the role and show than they deserved. There are also some appearances from some familiar Marvel characters. Benedict Wong returns as fan favourite character Wong and is entertaining, even if the show manages to find a way to make him feel overused. Charlie Cox was also fun to watch, with him reprising his role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil. The tonal difference between his appearance here and the original Netflix show is stark, and some of his dialogue is a bit too cheesy. Nonetheless, I thought that he worked for this show. He shares such wonderful chemistry with Maslany that by the end I wanted a whole show focussing on the two. Tim Roth also returns as Emil Blonsky/Abomination who has clearly changed a lot since his villainous role in The Incredible Hulk nearly 15 years ago. To his credit, Roth is at least having a lot of fun with the part here and that went some way to make him enjoyable. However, it is very confusing what the writers were even doing with the character when you look at the way they end his story in episode 9. As expected, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk makes a few appearances in the show and ever since Thor: Ragnarok, the character has been getting worse and worse with every movie or show he stars in. She-Hulk is no exception, and while Ruffalo is a good actor, I was thankful whenever Hulk wasn’t on screen. Beyond them, the rest of the characters are average and it’s hard to like any of them. With the writing and dialogue, no one feels like or talks like a real person. The villains are also terrible, and while I get that you’re not supposed to find them to be a serious threat, they still could’ve been handled better.
On a technical level, She Hulk isn’t impressive at all. Most scenes are shot and directed competently enough, but the visuals are very bland. That’s even before we get to the scenes involving CGI and this show really contains some of the worst visual effects in the MCU. As seen in the trailers, the effects on She Hulk looks bad, and even looks like its unfinished at points. That being said, I did get used to the CGI, either that or I had found more significant issues with the show.
She Hulk: Attorney at Law joins Thor Love and Thunder as the worst entries in the MCU. The concept and character certainly had potential, but it didn’t really work on the whole. Tatiana Maslany’s performance elevated some of the writing, a few of the characters were fun, and the show had its moments. However, the subpar writing lets the entire show down, leading to a rather average if watchable viewing experience. If you are still really into the MCU then you might find some enjoyment here. However, if your interest in the franchise is waning by this point, I doubt it’ll bring your enthusiasm back.