Friday 22 March 2024

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Season 1 | review by Stephen Theaker

This review originally appeared in TQF73 (April 2023).

Jennifer Walters is a lawyer who gains the power to transform into She-Hulk, thanks to her blood being mixed with that of her gamma-infused cousin, Bruce Banner. This television version of her story is largely based on the Dan Slott run of She-Hulk comics, where she works as a lawyer with superhuman clients, but it retains the fourth-wall breaking of the earlier John Byrne run. Tatiana Maslany plays the lead.

I found it very enjoyable. Not quite as good as Hawkeye and Moon Knight but much better than Ms Marvel and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and of all those only Moon Knight was more imaginative. She-Hulk is very likeable, in both her guises. The supporting players are all good. It's nice to see Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk again, and Jameela Jamil is perfectly cast as a vapid and exploitative influencer.

The special effects have been a sticking point for some viewers. Of course a seven-foot green woman is always going to look a bit odd – our brains will always tell us that she isn't real – but it does look like different effects houses were responsible for different shots, given their variable quality. For example, the walking often looks awkward, but the close-ups look fine.

Perhaps the effects are more of an issue than they might have been because the entire theme of the show is that everyone finds She-Hulk more appealing and attractive than Jennifer Walters. She-Hulk gets the job and gets the guys, but that doesn't quite make sense when Jennifer Walters is very pretty and She-Hulk is struggling to fight her way out of the uncanny valley.

Some episodes are very silly, such when she goes to a wedding as She-Hulk and then realises that the bride doesn't want to be outshone, but the programme strikes more serious notes too. The ending of the Daredevil episode is genuinely heart-breaking. Betrayed, barely able to control her rage, Jen breaks the fourth wall to look at us, imploring us to help, and of course we can't.

I hope there will be a second season, but if not it stands alone perfectly well. Stephen Theaker ****

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