‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ gives the MCU a startling mix of silly sitcom fun and superhero satire

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What do ’90s lawyer comedies, recent television sensations, Captain America’s sex life, and the fact that it’s not easy being green have in common? The latest streaming series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Which gives the always wonderful Tatiana Maslany (black orphan) a worthy comedic showcase, sees Marvel’s ever-sprawling franchise make a rare admission that The Incredible Hulk exists, and offers the Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness) a hilarious new buddy dynamic too? Yes, the MCU is sympathetic She-Hulk: Lawyer – which began hitting Disney+ in weekly installments starting Thursday, August 18, and comes off as clever, self-aware, silly and satirical all at once.

What refuses to take itself too seriously, knows it’s occupied territory, and responds with a wink to the world that even helped it exist? This Kat Coiro (Marry me) and Anu Valia (And just like that…)-directed show, too, which keeps ticking off a long list of boxes. She-Hulk: Lawyer is clever and fun, confuses popular culture’s obsession with superheroes, and unpacks society’s treatment of women — superpowered and otherwise. And where its immediate small-screen predecessor, Mrs. Wonderloved the MCU more than its audience ever will, this playful sitcom about Marvel’s six-foot-seven emerald-hued lawyer sees plenty of the ever-expanding saga on screen to lovingly parody.

Identity theft and nudging occur from the start, with She-Hulk: Lawyer starting with a question: “what is the responsibility of power?”. Yes, it’s supposed to trigger a reaction. Yes, it would be disheartening if the show didn’t know how familiar those words are. Jennifer Walters (Maslany) practices a closing argument, and as anyone who’s seen anything superhero-related in the past two decades will notice, she’s expressing some well-worn sentiment. But She-Hulk: Lawyer goes gleefully meta first – and comedic. No one in the world has enough fingers and toes to count the number of times power and responsibility have weighed on caped crusaders, and the movies and shows that focus on them, so this episodic new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t dare pretend otherwise.

She-Hulk: Lawyer is the eighth Disney+ series from the MCU, all in less than two years, after Wanda Vision first brought some avengers figures on the small screen in January 2021. This year has been filled with familiar faces slipping into their own streaming stories, such as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and Hawk Eyewhile 2022 now welcomes newcomers via moon knight, Mrs. Wonder and that. In its first chapter, however, some elements on She-Hulk: Lawyer quickly become apparent. First, it has as much in common with Ally McBeal and Flea bag as he does with his spandex-clad cohort. Second, it’s happy to be a goofy sitcom of the week about a lawyer trying to have it all, including superpowers. Third, poking fun at the superhero realm — and the reaction to it, especially the women in it — is one of the big motivations behind the sensational series.

When Jen rehearses in these introductory moments, she herself is the usual human assistant district attorney. It is neither green nor imposing nor imposing. Instead, she’s the star of what she describes as “this fun lawyer show” because fourth-wall breaking is part of She-Hulk: Lawyerthe irreverent style (and dates back to the character’s time on the comic page, from 1980, rather than monkey dead Pool). But Jen also knows that viewers aren’t here for just another legal comedy, even if that’s what head writer Jessica Gao (rick and morty) deliberately settles first, before any show of force, power and responsibility. Cut to a flashback explaining how Jen became She-Hulk, a nickname she openly dislikes. (You better believe that She-Hulk: lawyer points out how unacceptable it is to name the character after her male counterpart as well.)

In this jump back, Jen goes on a trip with her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, dark waters), ends up in a car crash, gets splattered with his gamma-radiating blood, and wakes up sharing his features. Smart Hulk springs into action, training Jen to turn giant and grass-colored whenever her emotions boil over. “It’s a multi-year journey you’re about to embark on,” he advises, accompanied by a binder of notes that would make Leslie Knope proud. However, Jen just wants to be herself and remain the lawyer she spent her life becoming, helping people through the law rather than through her newfound abilities. Also, because being a woman involves restricting her feelings on a daily basis, she is already naturally able to control her Hulk moves.

There is a statement in this reaction, as there is in everything She-Hulk: Lawyer. The paths traditionally dictated to women, the often stripped control of their own destiny, the contrast between hard work and easy notoriety, that all attention has a price: everything is thought out, and intelligently. Clearly, Jen isn’t just returning to her old life. She tries, but a superpowered influencer named Titania (Jameela Jamil, The right place) crashes into the court. Using her abilities, Jen saves the day, which thrusts She-Hulk into the public eye. She also loses her job, then gets hired for another one: running a superhuman legal division, because she can relate.

By introducing a new character to the MCU, She-Hulk: Lawyer couldn’t ignore the origin story part of his story. Luckily, it quickly unveils all the basics. And, though every superhero movie and series examines what it means to have extraordinary gifts, including for better and for worse, this addition to the fold filters it through the daily life of a 30-something-year-old lawyer who wants to be a lawyer – and an ordinary person – first. This covers juggling cases spanning everything from Emil Blonsky/the Abomination’s (Tim Roth, To sleep) past misdeeds to Asgardian elves and cunning magicians, and trying to cope with the dating world. It also includes sharing her professional, personal, and superpowered mayhem with her best friend and paralegal Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga, space force), and getting support from recent sitcom stars aka Josh Segarra (The two others) and Renée Elise Goldsberry (Girls5eva) as fellow lawyers.

The MCU is no stranger to slipping into the established genre that it feels suits its various heroes. See also: Mrs. Wonderteenage dreams and high school hijinks already this year. But based on the first four installments of its nine-episode first season, She-Hulk: Lawyer strikes an entertaining, insightful, well-cast balance between the obligatory caped crusader nods and the spin of a lawyer comedy about a caped crusader. If you’ve seen the trailers, the show is exactly what it always promised to be – in the right way.

Check She-Hulk: Lawyer trailer below:

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law streams via Disney+ starting Thursday, August 18.

Images: Courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All rights reserved.

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