Article by Kieran Burt
Marvel’s latest show, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has started, and the first episode was quite unengaging. What was promised to be a legal show quickly moves into very typical superhero origins and training sequences, with very little law. That’s not to say the show was a complete waste, but it spends far too much time outside the courtroom.
The show opens with Jennifer Walters practising her closing arguments for a legal case, and learning that it was about someone who has abused their power is actually quite interesting, it’s a shame the show doesn’t explain who is on trial and what they are accused of. But this is quickly left behind when Jen turns to camera, breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience that they don’t care about the legal stuff, that they want to know her origin story first.
A quick note about the fourth wall breaking comedy. It might garner a small chuckle here and there, but it’s not overly funny. While She-Hulk might have done fourth wall breaking before Deadpool, his film is the gold standard for superhero wall breaking ,and whilst it’s admittedly too early to tell if She-Hulk is funny, the first episode doesn’t hit the mark. This episode tries to copy Deadpool’s structure, starting in the action, then breaking in the middle of it to give an origin flashback. And it doesn’t work here because the origin flashback isn’t overly interesting.
She-Hulk’s origin story is very different from that in the comics, instead of receiving a blood transfusion from Bruce Banner after being shot by a mobster, she becomes She-Hulk in the MCU by coming into contact with his blood after a car question. The cause of the car crash raises some questions, as a Sakaarian ship drops out of nowhere, to deliver a message. What the contents of the message is or who the ship got that far without alerting S.W.O.R.D is unknown.
After this accident, Bruce takes Jen to an island in Mexico to train her to control Hulk. It’s here where the pace slows right down, with training exercises taking the majority of the episode and it’s boring. Superhero training montages have been done too much at this point, and it seems like She-Hulk doesn’t need one, as she controls her Hulk right off the bat. Now, many people would call her a Mary Sue for that, especially after she tells Bruce that she already controls her anger because of her job, and men being jerks, and she’s not. The conflict of this show isn’t about her controlling Hulk, that’s the narrative of Bruce Banner. The conflict of this show will be a legal one.
But the trip to Mexico does build on the relationship between Bruce and Tony Stark. Tony gave Bruce a lab, and helped him build a bar. He also complained about Steve a lot. Mark Ruffalo gives an excellent, sad performance here, reminiscing about the times he and Tony spent together. The MCU did a great job at highlighting Banner’s and Tony’s friendship in both Avengers and Avengers Age of Ultron, and it’s great to see Banner mourn Tony just that little bit more.
Eventually, the show returns to the present, only to interrupt the legal proceedings to have an action sequence. While a half-hour Marvel show doesn’t have a chance to go in depth on what happens in a courtroom, the audience doesn’t even get a peek. Hopefully the next few episodes will focus on the legal process.
The first episode does have a mid-credits scene, but it’s only the pay off to a conversation that Bruce and Jen have about whether Captain America is a virgin or not. A drunk Jen cries that Captain America died a virgin, until Bruce reveals that Steve lost his virginity in 1943 to a girl. These are the kind of debates that the internet has, and they’re funny to reference, but a bit awkward to openly address.
While this first episode isn’t the best start for She-Hulk, hopefully these are just growing pains. The origin story is relatively boring, and it comes at the legal process that was going to set the show apart from the other superhero shows and films.