It ain’t easy bein’ green, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review of the super silly She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
I have to admit I waited a week or two before diving into this, largely because of the social media tomfoolery over it. Various memes and posts suggested the primary focus was going to be an assertion that every woman secretly has an angry green rage monster brewing inside them that they keep at bay at all times because society treats them so harshly, the flip side being that all men live on easy street and la dee da through life with nary a problem.
Though I know women have it rough in many respects, I always thought social media is a place where nuanced arguments go to die. It is very much an either/or place. Post that you love cookies and everyone will accuse you of despising muffins. No, you just happened to really love cookies at a particular moment in time and wanted to share your love of it, but that doesn’t mean you hate muffins or gasp, even cupcakes. Mmm cupcakes.
At any rate, the world is a harsh place like Sisyphus of Ancient Greek legend fame, we all have our own comically massive boulder to push up our own neverending hill forever and ever. Me complaining about my boulder was never meant to imply you don’t have your own boulder or that my boulder is bigger than your boulder or what have you. Sometimes we just need to complain about our boulders and have people listen. Other times if we complain about our boulders, people might, just might either get out of the way or even help give our boulders a little push in the right direction.
Ultimately, we have to stop talking past each other and too each other and social media is a place where that rarely if ever happens.
Bottomline: She-Hulk is a lot of fun in my book. It’s a comedy. It’s light yet mixes in the action and it recognizes and arguably even fixes one of Marvel’s longest running problems, namely that The Incredible Hulk (and other variants by proxy) is an awesome, fan favorite character when part of an ensemble, but when heading up a stand-alone film, he’s box office poison.
Much of the problem, at least with the first two attempts at a Hulk flick in 2003 and 2008 is that said films usually focus heavily on the science (gasp I know, right?) and Banner running around avoiding the law and government agents who want to catch him and study him and avoiding getting angry for fear of losing control and going into Hulk smash mode and then when Hulk is the Hulk he is a big dummy so it’s hard to direct him toward productive activities.
Long story short, She-Hulk embraces the “women have it way tougher than men” narrative to, well, make the long story short. We know how Batman became Batman, we know how Spidey became Spidey and we know how hulks become hulks, so thankfully the show didn’t spend an entire season on an origin story, or rather, at least one in which She-Hulk comes to grips with being a lady hulk.
Instead, the show is a parody, lampooning the superhero genre.
The plot? SPOILER ALERT. Overworked attorney Jessica Walters (Tatiana Maslany) goes on vacation with her cousin, the one and only Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). When a frigging spaceship cuts them off in traffic because that’s life in a world where superheroes exist, Bruce cuts his arm, his hulk infected blood accidentally squirts onto Jessica, and now she’s infected with hulkism and has to live her life as a goddamn frigging hulk.
Sounds like a pain in the ass, right? Bruce whisks his cousin away to a secret island facility, advising her that her life as she knew it is over. Apologetic and solemn, he councils her that as he once did, she too will go on a multi-year journey where she learns to control her rage and learn to use her hulkism for good. Daily training and exercises and…yeah, blah, blah, blah, not so much. Turns out like all women, Jessica was always great at controlling her rage and only male hulks have to sit around and do yoga to learn how to keep from going into unbridled hulk smash mode.
I mean, yeah, it openly embraces the women rule and men drool motif but come on, it’s funny. It’s done in a humorous way and I don’t know about you, but I really didn’t want to watch five seasons where Jessica lives in a cave, outcast from society until she finally learns to control her anger and channel her hulk and neither did you.
Turns out, she doesn’t want to be a superhero either. Yeah, she has a special power now. She can turn into a super strong and enormous lady hulk at will, but she has no interest in running around with the Avengers. They don’t even get paid, she opines, and she has a career as a lawyer to get back to as well as law school loans to pay off.
And so, she returns to her practice, content to hide her hulkism until she learns that old adage “with great power comes great responsibility.” When a supervillain breaks into court one day, hellbent on murdering the entire jury box, Jessica realizes she can’t in good conscience not hulk out and save the day and so She-Hulk she comes to be.
Given the shaft by the legal industry (the bastards don’t want the liability of a She-Hulk on the payroll), she is hired by a major law firm to head up their new superhero law division, because you know, people with super powers tend to destroy a lot of shit so someone needs to handle the legal fallout of that. Her first case? Handle the parole hearing of Abomination (Tim Roth reprising his role as the villain from the 2008 film), a real conflict of interest as the dude tried to kill her cousin, but he swears he’s better now.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. This is an example of a show trusting the fans to already know what they need to do and delving right into the nitty gritty, rather than boring us with hours upon hours of origin. It dives right in and comes out swinging. It’s funny. It’s got a lot of action. At a half hour per episode, it’s even short and sweet. It’s your own personal Rorschach test. If you think the “women have it tougher than men” narrative is right, then it’s reinforced. If you think it’s wrong, then it’s poked fun at. Ultimately, it is all handled with good humor.
Bonus sidenote: I really enjoyed the scenes with Jessica’s family. Who hasn’t gone to a family dinner only to be peppered with nonsensical questions, to be heavily criticized and talked over and yeah if you had hulk powers, your family would be constantly demanding that you lift their heavy stuff and fix things for them all the time.