“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” reveals its mission statement in the middle of episode one.
Jennifer Walter’s cousin, Bruce Banner, cautions her about controlling her anger. Her answer says, well, everything.
“I do it all the time. When I’m cat-called in the street, when incompetent men explain my own area of expertise to me, I do it pretty much every day because if I don’t I’ll get called ’emotional, or difficult’ or might just literally get murdered.”
The show’s woke meter just hit red, and we haven’t gotten to the empowering scene where a colleague replaces Jen’s high heels with more sensible pumps.
Anyone wondering how woke the MCU will go in Phase 4 gets their answer here.
What’s missing? Laughs, for one, and the sense that we’re itching to spend more time with this professional victim.
The first episode deposits Jen (“Orphan Black” alum Tatiana Maslany) in the courtroom, but before long she’s breaking the fourth wall to explain how she became part lawyer, part superhero.
That’s a tic taken directly from the comic book source material, but it’s hardly innovative in 2022. Still, it plays into the loose comic tone defining the Disney+ property.
A freak accident while driving with cousin Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) – permanently stuck between his human and Hulk persona – transformed Jen into She-Hulk. Bruce tries to caution her about her new reality, leaning on his own life experiences in the process.
She’s a superhero now, and she better get used to it.
Jen isn’t like Bruce, though. She has more control of how she transforms, and she lacks the uncontrolled rage that made the original Hulk so much fun.
Can we go back to that, MCU overlords? Please?
The first episode finds Jen and Bruce butting heads over her immediate future. It’s silly and rarely comical, and it reveals Jen to be both brittle and unpleasant.
Maslany proved her chameleon-like gifts in “Orphan Black,” but even she can’t make Jen appealing early in the series. She’s not Captain Marvel-level smug, but it’s close.
Bruce fares badly, too. Ruffalo is always solid, but his character’s unwillingness to see Jen’s arguments plays out like a lame narrative shortcut.
There must be tension here, therefore Bruce is thick-headed to the core.
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We do get two superhero-style moments. One involves Bruce and Jen brawling over one of their many arguments. It’s fine, nothing more.
The other? A brief appearance by future villain Jameela Jamil, who looks ridiculous and barely makes an impression.
That’s Titania, an influencer/supervillain, and we’ll be seeing more of her soon.
Those sweating over the troubling CGI can find some issues here, but it’s more than acceptable for a TV series and no longer a distraction.
There’s plenty of meaty material here, from a superhero balancing her work/life balance to Jen’s future mission – defending supervillains.
The industry that collectively wants to cancel Donald Trump out of the public sphere wants us to cheer on an attorney protecting super-thugs.
On paper, that might be interesting.
Debut episodes have plenty working against them. We don’t know the sweep of a series yet, nor the full measure of the main characters.
“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” is off to a lousy start any way you look at it.