Three years ago this week, Marvel announced that it was making a series based on the popular character She-Hulk. The wait has been long, but now that show is finally here. Episode one of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is finally on Disney+; it introduces Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), a Los Angeles lawyer on the rise who, at the start of the show, can already turn into a massively powerful green Hulk.
The show knows that revelation seems very out of place though, so head writer Jessica Gao and director Kat Coiro flip the narrative around on us. In a nod to the original Marvel Comics, Jen addresses the audience, breaks the fourth wall, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is off to the races.
And while the rest of the She-Hulk pilot does explain Jen’s origin, it also serves as a very densely packed catch-all for Bruce Banner’s whereabouts and condition in and around Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. We learn that Bruce (once again played in both forms by Mark Ruffalo) spent most of the Blip in a Mexican hideaway that Tony Stark built for him. It was here that Bruce figured out how to balance Banner with his Hulk persona, resulting in the Smart Hulk we first see in Endgame. Later, we even see how his arm, badly injured when he snapped half of existence back to life, has begun to heal.
All of that is revealed after a very, very key moment: when Jennifer Walters became a Hulk. Bruce and Jen, who are cousins, are heading out together on some kind of vacation. They’re just chatting, mostly about Captain America’s potential virginity but also about some of Bruce’s new tech, when a Sakaarian ship appears out of nowhere and causes them to get into a car accident. We aren’t told it’s a Sakaarian ship yet, but if you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok, you will recognize it.
Jen is thrown from the car and when she goes back to get Bruce, he bleeds onto one of her open wounds. It’s an interesting twist on the traditional She-Hulk origin in that Bruce passes along the powers accidentally. In the comics, Bruce gives her his blood to save her life. If you want to dig further into this, we spoke to Gao about the reasoning; read more at this link.
After Jen’s powers go a little nutty outside a dive bar, Bruce reigns her in, and the story shifts down to the aforementioned Mexican hideout. There Jen wakes up very confused. Bruce explains to her what happened and that her life as she knows it is over. Which is not what a woman who has spent her entire life building a career in law wants to hear. A few drops of blood can’t just be the end. It won’t be. That’s not who Jennifer Walters is.
Who is she though? The subsequent scenes of Bruce pushing her limits as a Hulk speak to that. Bruce wants to know basic things like, when does she change? How does she change? Can she control it? Very quickly the pair realize that they are incredibly different. When Bruce first got his powers, he was almost impossible to control. An indestructible, unstoppable rage monster. Jen, however, can control the powers almost immediately. She’s still herself when she’s the Hulk, and Bruce is very jealous. Either way, the revelation tells us a lot about who Jen really is.
Things then go a step further. The show suggests the reason why Jen, and not Bruce, can so easily and quickly control her powers is that Jen is a woman. She explains that merely existing as a woman means that a lot of the time you are living with fear and anger. Therefore, she has a much better grasp on handling those emotions than he did. We see an example of this earlier in the show when a bunch of men follow and harass Jen outside the dive bar. She Hulks out instantly before Bruce stops her.
After several fun montages and action scenes, Jen’s impressive control allows her to go against Bruce’s wishes and leave Mexico. Bruce tells her no matter what, she’s now a superhero, but she disagrees. To Jen, she’s just a lawyer, which brings us full circle back to the episode’s beginning and Jen’s assurance that this is not a superhero show. This is a lawyer show. A statement one might believe for a few seconds until the evil Titania (Jameela Jamil) interrupts one of Jen’s cases out of nowhere, and Jen Hulks out in front of the courtroom to beat her up. Lawyer show? Maybe. But very much the Marvel version of one.
Oh, and then in a perfect, amazing touch for the pilot episode, there’s a mid-credits scene. (We’ve seen the first four episodes as of publication, and each has one of these.) Jen is still talking about Captain America’s sex life when Bruce, finally submits. He tells Jen exactly when Steve Rogers had sex and Jen is so excited about the news she screams “Captain America fucks!” Except, it cuts off before she can finish the expletive. This is Disney+, after all.
Overall, the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a lot. You really get the feeling like the team behind it did their best to give the audience more MCU mythology than they could handle to offset the fact many idiots will be mad this is actually going to be a show about how an everyday woman deals with being a superhero. That storyline is teased throughout the episode, but never feels quite at the forefront. Obviously, that’ll change moving ahead, and it was cool to answer some of those Hulk questions we had in the past. Plus, damned if Tatiana Maslany isn’t hilarious and awesome as Jennifer. It’s going to be really fun watching her grow into this character.
- It will almost certainly get further explored next week, but didn’t the Titania scene ostensibly come out of nowhere?
- Why do you think the Sakaarian ship showed up on Earth? And did they help Bruce and Jen after crashing their car?
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres new episodes Thursdays on Disney+.
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