Disney+ is now releasing MCU series with such a high frequency that even fans may well ask themselves whether it is still worth watching every single one of them. She-Hulk: The Lawyer raises that question again – and after the first four episodes, the answer is clear to us: “She-Hulk” is really only for MCU completeists who already watch everything from their favorite franchise.
There are a few exciting approaches and fans will be happy about one or the other guest appearance, but of all things the new comedy approach of the Marvel series becomes an own goal for “She-Hulk”. The Hulk’s lawyer-cousin adventure begins Thursday, August 18, 2022 on Disney Plus.
» “She Hulk” on Disney+*
Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is a passionate lawyer. But that all changes when the thirty-something is involved in a car accident with her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). He’s the Hulk, after all, and when her blood mixes with her famous relative’s, she too transforms into a green super creature. While she’s much more in control than Bruce was in his early days as the Hulk, the transformation still poses a problem—both in her career and in her love life.
There are definitely MCU series like “Moon Knight’ and ‘Ms. Marvel”, which can also be viewed without prior knowledge of previous Marvel series. But “She-Hulk” is not one of them. Given Jennifer’s relationship to the Hulk alone, you should at least see the MCU film The Incredible Hulk to fully understand the plot and the relationships between the characters.
Many references, jokes and guest appearances also refer to previous Marvel adventures such as “Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Captain America’, ‘Shang Chi’ and ‘Doctor Strange’, so MCU newcomers might feel a bit lost here.
Those who are familiar with the MCU will get all the more on offer with “She-Hulk”. For example, the relationship between Bruce Banner and Tony Stark is deepened, which is the tragic climax of “Avengers: Endgame“ gives even more weight – and when an actor suddenly celebrates his comeback 14 years after his MCU debut (Tim Roth as subscription), then of course that triggers nostalgic feelings in fans of the first hour.
But “She-Hulk” is unfortunately not much more than a series of MCU references, which is also due to the very one-dimensional main character.
Jennifer Walters is determined to make a career out of being a lawyer. But beyond that, she doesn’t have much personality. She comes across as the stereotype of a career woman, only she too carries the obligatory MCU humor. We don’t learn anything about her motives (at least in the first four episodes), and so it’s unclear from the start why she rejects her newfound superpowers so vehemently.
The comedy aspect in “She-Hulk” takes on a new dimension that is unusual for the MCU, with Jennifer addressing the series audience directly (similar to Deadpool), but these moments lack any sophistication.
If the protagonist pretends to be She-Hulk when dating online to get more men’s attention, then looks into the camera for a moment and says, “I’m not proud of it,” then that doesn’t help at all quality of the series. On the contrary: Series author Jessica Gao usually only uses the gimmick to repeat the obvious.
This becomes an own goal, especially when She-Hulk self-deprecatingly comments on the weaknesses of her own series. In episode 3, for example, she claims that “She-Hulk” isn’t a series that relies on constant guest appearances by well-known characters, only to realize for herself that every episode has a new MCU cameo waiting for her that catches the attention of you distract That is indeed a problem, but Jessica Gao has probably fallen for the self-mockery fallacy: Just because you make fun of your own weaknesses doesn’t mean you eliminate them.
What is very interesting about the main character “She-Hulk” is the reason why she has her superpowers under control so well. As a woman, she simply learned a completely different way of dealing with her emotions, says Jennifer at one point. She has always had to hold back her anger to avoid being labeled hysterical, while men are much more likely to have outbursts of anger.
There is definitely a lot of potential in the topic of how differently men and women are socialized in terms of dealing with emotions and the duo Hulk and She-Hulk would actually offer an excellent metaphor to deal with it vividly. But in the first four episodes, it only remains with this brief food for thought.
Another intriguing question She-Hulk raises is about correctional justice and rehabilitation: Do criminals like Abomination deserve a second chance? This is also at least briefly touched upon, but the first four episodes have not yet provided an answer and it remains to be seen whether the Disney+ series will even delve deeper into such socially relevant issues.
Conclusion: “She-Hulk” is an MCU series that draws on its franchise affiliation, but offers hardly any qualities of its own. There are one or two nice ideas, but whether these will be pursued further remains to be seen in the coming episodes. Hardcore Marvel fans will be watching the superhero comedy anyway, but skipping it is just missing out on one of the weaker MCU series.
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