Sunday Review: "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law"
A fun, feminist Hulk smash.
There are two main ways to approach "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law". Viewers can see it as a feminist flag planted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), or just as dumb superhero fun. Pleasingly, it stands up when subjected to scrutiny from either angle.
There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments in the first episode of this new series, which I will not spoil in this review. The familial patter between Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is amusing too. In the opening episode, there is a sense of fun and self-deprecation that is a nice contrast to the "dark" versions of superheroes viewers are often presented with. (Marvel seems to do this better than DC anyway, for example with "Guardians of the Galaxy", Deadpool" etc as compared to Batman.)
And yet...alongside this are subtle, and sometimes not very subtle, feminist interjections. Jennifer Walter's tired and frustrated speech about how she regularly has to contain her anger in her normal life and so will be fine containing She-Hulk will resonate with many women. Goodness knows there are occasions when we’d all like to become a green, 6-foot-7-inch beast. That scene could have been a bit hammy, and plenty of other female characters have raised such issues in the past, but Maslany pulls it off pretty well. The point is made without it feeling too much like a lecture.
Adding to moments like that is the ongoing theme that, as well as being a successful lawyer, Walters is more advanced at honing her Hulk skills than Banner, despite him having been doing it for many more years. This removes the potential for a patronising and patriarchal relationship between the two characters early on. It all means that the two key components of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” blend together to make a more effective whole.
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