Every season we’ve got a new Disney+ MCU series. After Moon Knight, I was quite marvel-ed out so I skipped Ms. Marvel (which I may still watch at some point. Well, as Summer is drawing to a close, She-Hulk, that is the female cousin of Bruce Banner’s Hulk, will keep us company through mid-October.
The fact that the show has mostly women behind the scenes is something I’m thrilled about, natch! We’ve got Kat Coiro helming most of the episodes, and Anu Valia directing 3 eps. The show-runner is Emmy-winning writer Jessica Gao (Rick and Morty, Silicon Valley) with Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany as the title role. I’ve actually never seen Orphan Black, but I was impressed with Maslany in the movie Woman in Gold (as the younger version of Helen Mirren’s character) and the HBO series Perry Mason.
I didn’t get a chance to watch all four episodes of the screeners that Disney sent me, I managed to only see the pilot episode yesterday, so here are my thoughts on it:
- Firstly, Maslany is terrific as Jennifer Walters! I’ve only seen her in dramatic roles but she clearly has comedic chops. She’s fun to watch even though I haven’t quite warmed up to her character just yet.
- As someone whose clients are in the legal industry, it was fun for me to see the first superhero lawyer of the MCU, though there’s not much lawyering yet in the first episode. LOVE the artistic end credits sequence that shows the classic courtroom drawings!
- The CGI rendering of She-Hulk is not that much better compared to the trailer. It’s quite distracting, especially her facial expressions (and why is her curly mane becomes straight when she’s transformed??).
The action scenes during the island training look especially fake, I wonder if the VFX budget crunch is affecting those. But according to that article, they had to cut down several sequences from the script in order to keep the budget in check. In any case, hopefully it gets better in future episodes [fingers crossed]
- She-Hulk’s origin story is done in such a rushed, almost blink-and-you-miss-it style… though that -eating-Cheetos-with-chopstick bit is pretty funny. I didn’t read the comics so I have no idea how Jennifer turns into She-Hulk, (SPOILER ALERT) but here it’s Bruce’s blood spilling on Jen’s open wound that somehow turns her to become the Hulk instantly.
- I guess we shouldn’t overthink it but we’re supposed to just accept that Jen could easily manage her hulking transformation so well, nary the destructive rampage her cousin was plagued with for years before Bruce became the calm yoga master he is now. As a woman, I can relate to Jen’s rationale as to why she could control her anger better than Bruce …
- … by the same token, the writing is a bit too on the nose and heavy-handed. I expect a healthy dose of gender disparity woke-ness from a female-led superhero directed by a woman, but at the same time, I feel like the message could perhaps be better delivered by a ‘show-don’t-tell,’ lead by example approach. The way it’s handled feels a bit preachy and an oversimplification of a complex topic. Plus, the fact that She-Hulk is phenomenally better than Hulk in speed, strength and pretty much everything is quite unrealistic (yes even for a fantastical superhero series!)
- Seems that TV writers think every strong female protagonist shouldn’t just break the mold but also break the fourth wall … it’s getting a bit tiresome as the novelty has long worn off.
- While the riff between Ruffalo and Maslany is mostly fun, Jen comes across as pretty mean towards Bruce who’s just trying to help… I understand her laments about being underestimated as an in-depth woman AND a female attorney but Bruce is not underrating her nor ‘mansplaining’ to her, I mean, how many people got exposed to gamma radiation and lived to tell about it? If Bruce’s cousin were a man, he probably would’ve been reacting the exact same way.
- I’m only familiar with Jameela Jamil mostly from talk show interviews, but she seems like a fun gal. Her character Titania burst into the show quite literally… Was it a memorable entrance? Yes. Was it cringe-inducing? Also yes. Plus the CGI and the slo-mo effect in this action scene are laughable!
- Overall I enjoyed it but I wasn’t wowed by the pilot, that said I’m curious enough to keep tuning in, especially since Charlie Cox‘s Matt Murdock will make an appearance down the line. Of course I’m still wishing for more Daredevil standalone series, given how it ended on such a spectacularly high note in season 3.
As for the review-bombing on IMDb, I chuck it to toxic fandom, something that’s just par the course when it comes to female superheroes, especially those with female show-runners. It’s one thing to criticize a series for its shortcomings, but leaving negative user reviews even before the show is even released is so infantile and idiotic.
SPOILER ALERT! (highlight text below to read)
P.S. As for the bit about Captain America, I for one am not one of those who are clamoring to know whether Steve Rogers is a virgin or not. I guess that’s a very human thing to be thirsting over America’s @$$ and I find her obsession over Capt’s sexuality pretty amusing. Her not-so-family-friendly declaration has been all over Twitter, even Chris Evans himself reacted to it.
Have you seen SHE-HULK? What did YOU think?