She-Hulk: Attorney At Law Series Premiere Review: A Solid Start, Just Shy Of Smashing

Could be better, but could be a whole lot worse.

By Michileen Martin | Published

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The series premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is finally here and with it, Marvel continues its trend over the past couple of years of stepping outside the franchise’s comfort zone. The last few film and TV entries from the Marvel Cinematic Universe have given us horror, psychological thrillers, teen drama, and martial arts epics. Now She-Hulk purports to bring straight-up comedy to the MCU and, for the most part, it succeeds. But just like Jennifer Walters can’t really escape the superhero life she’s destined for, She-Hulk can’t help but be more than a comedy. The show delivers on the action, drama, and the laughs. Ironically, so far it’s in the laughs department where the show is weakest.

Which isn’t to say She-Hulk isn’t funny. As Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) trains his cousin on “how to Hulk” in his secret Mexico lab, there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. As usual, Marvel delivers a lot of nice self-referential humor; along with the already infamous Captain America Virginity theory, Tatiana Maslany is adept at delivering some spot-on critiques of the story of Bruce’s history as the Hulk thus far. But even someone brand new to the MCU could appreciate a lot of the comedy. Jen’s response to becoming a Hulk is perfectly human and at times hilarious. There is, of course, a mid-credits scene and you will do yourself a disservice on a few levels if you skip it.

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Hulk and She-Hulk in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

But there are some noteworthy misses in She-Hulk; particularly a running joke about Bruce being smug for referring to himself as “Smart Hulk.” Partly it doesn’t land because it’s “Professor Hulk” that the fandom largely knows him as. Not to mention that “smart” is a pretty tame descriptor and calling someone “smug” for referring to themselves that way sounds borderline abusive (particularly when Jen refers to herself as being a “better” Hulk moments beforehand).

One of the things that presses the breaks on the humor a little bit is the dynamic between Bruce and Jen; though not in a bad way. As Jen eventually lets him know in a more than justified rant, Bruce is acting much more like the stereotypical mad scientist in She-Hulk than ever before. In spite of being proven again and again that Jen is a different kind of Hulk, he refuses to stop projecting his own experience on her. It’s a poignant commentary on the male/female dynamic, and it also tempts you to wonder if maybe–during the process that supposedly merged his personality with that of the Hulk’s–Bruce lost something kind of important in terms of keeping all of his marbles in the same bag.

She-Hulk also isn’t particularly shy in the arena of planting seeds for future Marvel stories or displaying Easter eggs. The unexpected interstellar arrival that causes Jen’s change isn’t fully explained; meaning it will no doubt be crucial either later in the series or in another project. Also, when Jen first wakes up in Mexico she finds something in Bruce’s bar that could just be an Easter egg pointing to the fan-favorite 1992 miniseries Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect, or could be a hint regarding her cousin’s true state of mind.

The biggest problem with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is that if it wants to be known as a comedy, it needs more comedy. The premiere episode, “A Normal Amount of Rage,” is good, but so far it doesn’t feel like it’s jumped genres. It doesn’t yet feel any more married to comedy than your average episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; or even other MCU offerings like Ant-Man or Thor: Ragnarok. That may just be because of the need for set-up. So far, we aren’t blown away, but we’re impressed enough to keep tuning in.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Series Premiere Review:

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