She-Hulk Starts With a Bang, With Plenty of Laughs, Fisticuffs, and Green Stuff
Let me start this review of the premiere episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law with a confession. I’m not the biggest fan of the She-Hulk comics, though I have read several, especially in recent years. I am, however, a huge fan of Tatiana Maslany. I thought her portrayal of several different characters in Orphan Black was downright incredible, and she’s the reason I wanted to review She-Hulk. And though the first episode, called A Normal Amount of Rage, is a bit of a short burn, it’s packed with tons of great Maslany moments and the standard Marvel humor.
It all starts with Jennifer Walters getting ready for her next big case, and dealing with sexist bullshit from a colleague. One fun quirk in this episode of She-Hulk, and one I suspect will be recurring, is whenever Jen breaks the fourth wall to talk to the audience. At first, I thought they were going with a similar mechanic like from What We Do In The Shadows, with a camera team capturing her exploits. But given that we never see a crew, and how she travels so far afield, I think it’s just Marvel being Marvel. And I’m perfectly fine with that. Maslany has a pretty great sense of humor herself, and it lends a lot to this character.
Also, because it’s Marvel, that also means She-Hulk deals with hero stuff, much as Jennifer tries to avoid it. So we get a great flashback to how she became a superhero, and it’s a pretty random situation. Her and cousin Bruce Banner (yes, that Bruce) are on a road trip when they get unexpectedly stopped by a Sakaaran cruiser in the middle of the road. It’s unclear what the alien species wanted with the Hulk, but the result is they crash their vehicle, and in getting free from the wreckage, Jen cuts her arm. Then when she does the right thing and rescues her cousin Bruce (he had a prototype device keeping him human), some of his blood leaks into her open wound, and has the expected result.
Jen wakes up after Hulking out, and gets some very considerate help from what looks like a bachelorette party at a sports bar. Unfortunately, then she gets catcalled and harassed in her makeshift outfit, which leads to her Hulking out again and terrifying and probably beating up a group of idiots before waking up in Mexico.
Why Mexico, you ask? Well, a few years back Tony Stark and Bruce Banner worked together there to help Bruce get control of his powers. I love how eager Ruffalo is to play a mentor to his cousin, though he does come across as occasionally condescending and, forgive the term, Hulksplaining things to his female cousin. Much to his surprise, not only is her blood able to help him heal himself from the car crash, but it’s also just as adept at safely dealing with Gamma radiation as his.
Also new is that Jen is, put simply, much better equipped to be a successful Hulk than Bruce ever was. The reason? She’s a woman, and has learned to control her emotions to a startling degree because of how much anger and fear our society foists upon women with sexist bullshit. As such, not only does she quickly learn how to shift effortlessly back and forth between human and superhuman forms, but she also doesn’t have a second, mindless self that takes the wheel. She’s always Jen, just sometimes she’s bigger and tougher than others.
There’s a big superhero fight scene that occurs when Jen tries to leave before Bruce thinks she’s ready and it ends with his cabana by the beach getting damaged. So Jen helps him fix it up, and because of the Hulk’s capacity to process alcohol, they also do some very heavy drinking, letting loose explosive belches that scare the wildlife. The short version is that Jen thinks she’s ready to live her life again and sets out to do just that. This, is of course, when a random superpowered baddie played by the talented Jameela Jamil smashes her way into the courtroom, forcing Jen to Hulk out and deal with her.
Overall, I thought this was a great start to She-Hulk, and I’m excited to cover it. Though much like how there’s now two Hulks in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are also gonna be two people at The Workprint covering She-Hulk. I’ll be here next week, then Victor Catano will take over for a few episodes, and then I’ll be back to cover the last few episodes. So thanks for joining us, and be sure to tune back next Thursday!