Reviewing ‘She-Hulk’: Light-Hearted or Fourth Wall Flounder?

 

Wondering whether to watch the newest Marvel movie — ‘She-Hulk’? See what two of our critical writing reviewers had to say.

 

Review: ‘She-Hulk’ Transforms Between Light-Hearted and Heavy-Handed 

The first episode of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” Marvel Studios’ latest streaming offering on Disney+, tells the origin story of how fourth wall-breaking lawyer Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) became a Hulk. 

Meta commentary on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a light-hearted tone makes the pilot enjoyable to watch.

While the CGI for She-Hulk and her transformations are choppy at times, the visuals don’t distract from the storytelling. 

Episode one features a welcome guest appearance from Walters’ cousin, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who attempts to help her transition from regular lawyer to superhero. 

Walters learns to channel her rage more quickly than Banner did when he first transformed, thanks in large part to her experience holding back anger in her day-to-day life as a female attorney.

The writers attempt to weave moments of social commentary into the show’s snappy dialogue, and while at times those can feel heavy-handed, they characterize Walters and differentiate her from Banner’s Hulk. 

The show nestles into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with references to familiar characters like Captain America and Iron Man as well as the events of “Thor: Ragnarok.” While these references could be seen by some as clumsy, they work as world-building that make the Los Angeles-set show feel connected to the larger franchise. This feels necessary considering the direction the show appears to be headed in, positioning Walters as a lawyer handling cases that involve characters from past installments. —Stuart Steele

Review: Humor, Fourth Wall Flounder in ‘She-Hulk’ Pilot

Marvel is the fast-food joint of the media world. Its content satiates, but has no savor; it fills, but does not fulfill, and its formulaic, cookie-cutter plotlines can be mimicked by anyone who wanders into the director’s chair.  

Yet, one can’t help but feel that the pilot episode of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” could have used more time in the fryer.    

The new Disney+ show is touted as a “comedy series,” but such a label seems to be the only thing laugable about the show. Jokes flounder about in the first episode before drowning in the stale, mirthless air. 

Marvel’s humor has never been “funny” to me, rather well-timed, placed right after intense scenes in movies to relieve tension and catch the audience off-guard. “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” showcases how well Marvel’s humor stands on its own: that is, not well at all.    

The acting in ‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,’ much like its comedy, is also lacking.

Its lead, Tatiana Maslany (Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk), goes for a cheeky, irreverent, stick-it-to-the-patriarchy performance; however, such a performance could be delivered better by other actresses (Aubrey Plaza from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” perhaps). 

Maslany’s performance in the pilot lacks the necessary edge for a lot of what the writers attempt – particularly the fourth-wall breaks, which are not so much creative decisions as they are the artifices of lazy writers. –Justin Morris

Reviews written by journalism majors in Professor Lori Johnston’s critical writing course.

 

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