When Disney revealed Marvel’s Phase Four lineup regarding their television properties, there were only a few shows I was intrigued by. The first was WandaVision, which I really liked because of how unique it all felt. The second was What If…? which was okay. I do wish it was a little more imaginative with some of their stories there. The final one was She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. I can’t say I’m a hardcore fan of the character but, the more I looked into this Marvel superhero, the more I liked her. More specifically, I liked John Byrne’s run on She-Hulk as she took her into a whole new direction of irreverence and comedy. So, the instant I saw the titular character turn her head and break the fourth wall by addressing the audience, just like when John Byrne had control, I knew I was going to watch She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Was I going to like it? Well, that was a whole other story. A story I can now answer since all of the episodes have been aired. In a nutshell, I just think it was “meh.” It had the makings of something special but, thanks to a variety of reasons, it fell real short from greatness. I do think there are a few good things about the show… but there are also a lot of bad stuff mixed in.
In order for me to delve into why I do feel this way about the show, I will have to dive into some heavy SPOILERS. I do think there are a few good things about the show… but there are also a lot of bad stuff mixed in. And I’ll have to get granular about some of the specifics so, yeah. SPOILERS ahead!
Anyway, let’s start with the things I liked about She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. I think the casting is generally good. I’ve generally liked Tatiana Maslany ever since I saw her in Orphan Black. She already had to showcase her acting chops there as she had to play multiple roles. I also think she’s very likable, which is why I generally enjoyed her portrayal as Jennifer Walters. She also does pull off the duality of being a normal lawyer and a Hulk pretty well here and her comedic timing is spot on.
I also generally enjoyed Ginger Gonzaga’s version of Nikki Ramos, Jennifer Walter’s assistant. She could’ve easily gotten on my nerves as she’s supposed to be the plucky fast talking sidekick who’s super street smart. I do have to say she pulled the role off and actually pretty likable. Honestly, that’s not a small feat with a role like that.
I also do have to say I liked a couple of the cases. At the very least, I do like the creativity of the court cases but maybe not in the execution. For example, I liked the idea regarding Wong suing a Vegas magician as he’s using some of the spells he learned in Kamar-Taj as well as an immortal man faking his death to get out of his multitude of marriages. These are intriguing cases which does fit with the later She-Hulk storylines where she would tackles cases such as Spider-Man suing The Daily Bugle for slander.
However, like that comic storyline, while the premise is compelling, they aren’t given a really satisfying conclusion. The only one that does have a good payoff is the trademark dispute between Titania and Jennifer Walters over the use of the She-Hulk name. That’s because, for one, it’s actually something someone might do in a world populated with superheroes and, second of all, the case actually has some legal basis. It’s a really clever idea but I just wish the other cases were written with the same care as this one.
This does lead me to the things I do dislike about She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. The writing does come off as rather sloppy. There are times when the show comes off as if it’s lacking focus on what they’re trying to say. Or rather, they start saying something but there isn’t a proper payoff to it. A good example is when the Wrecking Crew try to get some of She-Hulk’s blood by attacking her while she’s just Jennifer Walters. They make it a point to identify them as having Asgardian construction tools but they’re never really heard from again. I know they’re part of the entire Intelligencia plotline and the Wrecking Crew do show up in Marvel comics. However, the only payoff is Wrecker appears later as part of the group Emil Blonsky, the reformed Abomination, is helping out. It lacks the necessary oomph.
Speaking of characters, a lot of them are also severely underutilized. Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk’s boss at GLK&H only shows up in a few scenes. Her other co-workers, Agustus “Pug” Pugliese and Mallory Book, could’ve been smashed into one character, trimming down the already bloated cast. It’s almost like the writers wanted to flex their Marvel comics knowledge and show off by adding them to this Disney show. But this did these characters are disservice as they’re only shown briefly. They could’ve just used Pug for all of the other cases and add Mallory Book in the future. Even Titania, who was plugged to be the show’s main antagonist, is generally just a nuisance than a straight up villain out to get Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk. What a waste of a perfectly good actress like Jameela Jamil.
I was also disappointed with how they implemented the fourth wall breaks most of the time. In general, most of the fourth wall breaks has Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk talk directly to the audience regarding what’s happening. That’s all well and good but, if you read the John Byrne comics featuring She-Hulk, you can see how much more creative they could’ve done it. Things like travelling instantly to another location by traversing the panels of the comic page or She-Hulk getting upset at John Byrne himself because of the stupid things she’s made to do by him. They do kind of do this during the last episode, where She-Hulk breaks through the Disney+ app and into Disney studios to confront the writers. But by this time, it’s a little too late and even seems out of place because she hasn’t addressed the writers until that point. If she did something like face the camera and address the writers of the show directly before then, it would have made much more sense.
I also do have to give my thoughts regarding the loudest complaint people have about She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. And that issue is it’s, to put it mildly, too woke. People would point out the fact how many douche-y dude bros appear on the show and how Intelligencia is showing off “toxic masculinity” and things of that matter. I’m kind of split on this as, although there are a lot of negative male stereotypes featured throughout the show, they also do feature “good” guys like Pug. Even She-Hulk’s boss as GLK&H is more of a parody of the head of a corporation just latching onto whatever will give them the most business and doesn’t feel like a specific negative male character.
I can also point to a few negative female stereotypes with the party girl who befriends “Wongers” and Emil Blonsky’s harem. They could’ve featured a couple of more strong male characters or a couple of scummy female characters to balance it out. But even with that, I didn’t really feel offended by the portrayal of the scummy male characters because, well, they’re supposed to be scummy characters in general.
Overall, I do think She-Hulk: Attorney at Law had a lot of good ideas but it’s the execution of these ideas that fell flat. Maybe if they focused a little more on one aspect of the show, like either her being a superhero lawyer taking on superhero cases, her dealing with her knowing she’s on a television show or just being a straight up comedy but with just superpowers, it could have worked better. There’s a good show struggling underneath all of this but even someone with the strength of a Hulk couldn’t dig deep enough to get through it.
Have you seen She-Hulk: Attorney at Law? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!