She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: Episode 1 – ‘A Normal Amount of Rage’ REVIEW

Anything you can do I can do better.


Jen Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is very good at hiding her anger. You know this because it’s the first thing you see her doing. She refrains from responding to the disparaging comments made by her male colleague while she practices delivering the closing argument for an upcoming trial. She is, unfortunately, used to this type of treatment. Whether being catcalled on the street or mansplained to in the office she knows how to grin and bear it. A lifetime of practicing controlling her emotions and their physical manifestation might also make her particularly well suited for being a Hulk, but how did she get here?

Episode 1 of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is focused mostly on showing you how Jen became a Hulk, even if, as Jen says directly to the camera, it gets in the way of, “this fun lawyer show”. It’s a nod and a wink to the expectations of a superhero story, that you have to know where someone’s powers came from and their struggle to master them before you can fully accept them as a hero. But She-Hulk is more interested in challenging audience expectations than it is in fulfilling them.

While driving with her cousin Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) they are confronted by a Sakaaran spaceship on the highway. The car goes off the road and as they struggle out of the crashed vehicle Bruce’s gamma-irradiated blood gets into Jen’s wound, turning her into a Hulk. They make their way down to his secret lab/beach bar in Mexico, giving her some time to deal with the fact that she is now a Hulk, and allowing him to run some tests where he realizes that she’s a better more conscious Hulk in a few days than he is after 15 years.

She doesn’t need a journey of isolation and self-actualization like he did because this is her, and other women, normal. Not letting your emotions out so that people don’t throw derogatory and ableist insults at you like crazy, psycho, or monster is what she does every day. The fact that now she turns green when her anger manifests don’t change that this is part of how she survives.

Jen’s backstory in this episode is playing with the Mary Sue trope. Almost from the moment she turned, Jen is innately good at being a Hulk, shifting back and forth from human to Hulk form with ease, with no conflict between those identities. She can do this, and Bruce sees that she can do this, but still holds onto the idea that she needs to go through the same process he did. So when she tells him that she can control her emotions because she has been doing this, she’s talking not just to Bruce but to everyone watching: listen to what she’s saying, believe her, and don’t make her explain her competence.

She-Hulk, like Deadpool, is a character that regularly breaks the fourth wall. This moment feels in line with who the character is, but is given its necessary weight by Maslany’s delivery. The dexterity in her facial expression, body language, and tone, allow her to deliver serious lines right next to comedic ones without reducing the effect of either. It lets the show directly address the criticism it knows it will get, the type of criticisms that women in these types often get, so they can get to the comedy this show does so well.

Watching this episode made me chuckle more than a few times  at Ruffalo and Maslany, who manage the comedic moments just as well as the more serious ones. She-Hulk: Attorney At Law finds humor in the sort of adjustments a person has to go once they become a Hulk as well as the ridiculousness of a huge green person trying to do things like a non-huge green person. There’s even a running gag about Steve Rogers’ sexual exploits that culminates in a delightful post-credit scene that Maslany delivers brilliantly. Her combination of wit and sarcasm as well as the show’s ability to address serious themes with comedy and urgency makes me very excited to see what else this show can do and become in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: The Contemplation of Existence in Thor: Love and Thunder

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A funny first episode that uses comedy to interrogate and not undercut its themes. The start of something new and potentially great in the MCU.