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She-Hulk, Attorney at Law: Season Review

What happens when gamma-infected blood meets perky lawyer? For this viewer, a whole lot of fun.

As a gay man, I've watched for years as other gay men love singers, performers, drag queens and divas.

You know who my diva was? She-Hulk.

I mean, I've always loved women characters who take the mantle of superhero: Jaime Sommers was maybe the first on my list, a show I watched regularly with my parents (who were trying to get me to wear a very uncomfortable hearing aid, which might have been part of the motivation.) She-Hulk was something different: a character who said what was on their mind, who had an inner conviction and strength that never wavered, no matter what her anxiety raised. Someone who spoke directly to the reader, who kept critiquing her own story.

When Marvel announced She-Hulk as a series, I was excited but nervous; I spent many hours picturing all the ways This Could Go Wrong, and I'm pleased to announce that they did many things right, with the whimsy and style that made She-Hulk the comic that kept me riveted. I think fans of the usual Marvel formula will be disappointed. Those of us getting a little tired of the big-picture high-tension storylines may well be relieved to get something that's more of a slice of life story, and that looks at life as a superhero with a human, humorous perspective.

Tatiana Maslany does a fantastic job as both Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk, presenting two sides of a personality which are equally lovable. Jennifer Walters is a petite lawyer who somehow manages to be tough yet gentle, with a loving but critical family and a cousin who likes to smash many things. When said cousin accidentally leaks blood on her she somehow manages to catch the same gamma COVID Bruce got – and lo and behold, She-Hulk.

This is really a show about identity and confidence for a woman in the modern world. I can't help but compare this to WandaVision, and in my eyes She-Hulk makes WandaVision take a backseat in terms of a true exploration of psychology. Yes, it's done with absolute humor, and every episode brings a callback to the comics – in some cases direct transpositions of the book to the screen, and in other cases clever ways to integrate the Hulk mythos. We see Jennifer break the fourth wall; we see She-Hulk as a self-fulfilling sexual being (just like the comics) – but the series stays true to its central ideal: how does someone start out with a public superhero identity, versus a secret identity, and figure who they are?


It's interesting that the show takes the stance the superhero powers don't solve the problem of sexist jerks. Again and again She-Hulk's powers are belittled, her contributions are demeaned, and her value in one form or another is pooh-poohed. And yet, that inner conviction about the right things to do and say drive Jennifer and bring her many friends and devoted fans. She's a hero in both forms.

There were so many moments I loved in this series. The dating app! The court scene! The line of She-Hulk beauty products! The support group! Pug and Nikki! The Avongers! Matt Murdock! Matt Murdock! Matt Murdock! (Yes, I said it three times.) But for me the best part was definitely seeing She-Hulk so frustrated by the usual Marvel schtick at one point that she quite literally breaks out of her own series to find the writer responsible – and do some editing.



And there you have it: one of the very rare moments in any Marvel product where a woman truly stands up and takes charge of her own story. And what does she want as an ending? A dinner with the family she grew up with, a nice guy she's hanging out with, and a green, friendly giant. In other words, a dinner very representative of the whole person she's trying to be.

I love you, Jennifer Walters. I love you, She-Hulk. May you continue to smash.

Noted in Court

Smug Hulk.

Wong's guest appearance and hasty exit had me rolling.

Pug's shoe collection and the fashion procurement... I couldn't even.

Every moment with Luke Jacobsen (Griffin Matthews.)

The callback to the Savage Hulk series was very well done and must have been an incredible amount of fun to film.

That whole weird She-Hulk hate storyline, with the incel-type guys saying Females, made me as disgusted as Pug looked but also seemed fairly true to life.

My one critique of this show is that I think the take on actual law is probably based on a comic book, but honestly, who cares? Everyone on this show seemed to be having a freaking amazing time.

Closing Statements

Hulk: When people start seeing you as a monster, that never goes away. (Foreshadowing!)

Jennifer: No. No. That's for somebody called "She-Hulk," which can't possibly be what they're calling me.
Nikki: "Lady-Hulk, Girl-Hulk, She-Hulk..." Come on, just give them what they want.
She-Hulk: (to Nikki) That name better not stick. It's so dumb. I can't even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk.

Megan Thee Stallion: Oh, you are way more fun than my last lawyer.
She-Hulk: I will kill for you, Megan Thee Stallion.
Megan Thee Stallion: Dial it back.

Overall

This won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a refreshing interlude between the more serious, dark Marvel ventures. I kind of wonder what would happen if She-Hulk met Party Thor. I guess that depends on how long Matt Murdock stays around.... Five out of five for making me smile during a difficult couple of weeks!

4 comments:

  1. Joseph, thanks for your review and I so agree. I loved every minute of this series, especially Tim Roth's Abomination and the return of Matt Murdock. It was the breath of fresh air that I dare say the Marvel franchise needed.

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  2. I kind of loved this show, although I think I need to call out an omission from you your review; Madisynn, she was an absolute delight and I loved her connection to Wong. Otherwise I totally agree with you, this was a wonderful slice of life, empowerment defined and a lovely way to call out all the haters and intolerant misogynistic man-boys who cannot stand to see a woman with power.

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  3. I NEED to watch this. I'm so behind in the MCU it's embarrassing at this point. Bad sunbunny no biscuit

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  4. She-Hulk made me laugh every week. I value that. I really wanted to see her break the fourth wall, but not just break it. I wanted her to obliterate it...and I wasn't disappointed. This show is, like WandaVision, is unique, and will never be rivaled.

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