As its title suggests, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is a subversive delight.
Unleashing a healthy serving of Dorothy Parker tinged satire, and lovingly pulling on the decades of network legal drama tropes, the Tatiana Maslany-led comedy from Rick and Morty vet Jessica Gao rapturously cavorts around the superhero genre, breaking the fourth wall and expectations. Now, addressing the audience here, is lifted from the comics where the character originated back in 1980. So, Deadpool and Fleabag fans, that’s true to the source material. There’s also a lot of high quality CGI, transparent deriding of City of Angels superficiality, and dating app rituals.
Amidst all that, the overriding takeaway is She-Hulk is really funny – which might be exactly what we all need right now.
The fact is humor has long been Marvel’s secret weapon.
Truly inaugurated by the genius of Robert Downey Jr’s insecure and simultaneously arrogant Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, the Kevin Feige run Disney division has followed with guffaws from most of Tom Hiddleston’s take on trickster god Loki, any franchise that has Taika Waititi connected to it, and the Lucy and Desi banter of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Chris Evan’s Captain America across numerous flicks, to name a few. Especially in contrast to the bleak and box office-disappointing DC Universe as devised by Zack Snyder, Marvel’s determination to go for the laughs has paid off handsomely over the years.
But they’ve never really successfully gone laugh out loud full tilt boogie – until now with She-Hulk.
Yes, the nine-episode first season specifically gives an unabashed nod to Ally McBeal, and is almost overweight with self-described self-conscious social media energizing cameos and guest stars.
Besides Asgardians on Earth and a Megan Thee Stallion reference, there’s the O.G. Hulk himself Mark Ruffalo as the Bruce Banner cousin of Maslany’s Los Angeles lawyer Jennifer Walters, Tim Roth returning to his Abomination role from 2008’s lackluster The Incredible Hulk movie, Dr. Strange alum Benedict Wong as Sorcerer Supreme and Sopranos fan Wong, and a trailer tease return to the MCU for Daredevil’s Charlie Cox. In other hands, on another show, the betrayal of influences and sprinkled MCU appearances could become a blatant bore that would overwhelm the core narrative like a Chitauri attack. Yet, unlike many a Marvel film or series, the impressionistic broad strokes that Gao and primary director Kat Coiro employ via their talented lead actress and well deployed barb irreverence are acute.