She-Hulk Episodes 1-4 review: A cameo-filled courtroom comedy

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
A still from She-Hulk

The first four episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, while nothing incredible (pardon the pun), shine as a quirky workplace romcom.

The first episode of Marvel‘s newest Disney+ series, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, has finally premiered. The show follows Jenn Walters (Tatiana Maslany), a lawyer who also happens to be a hulk, as she attempts to survive the courtroom, her dating life, and those who keep trying to attack her.

The show is clearly going for a more light-hearted affair than other MCU properties, which can be said of the critically acclaimed series Ms. Marvel. So, regarding the first four episodes, does She-Hulk keep up in terms of quality?

Now don’t worry, this will be a SPOILER FREE REVIEW, we’re gonna do our best to keep it vague, and only discuss what you’ve already seen in the trailers. But if you wanna know if the first four episodes are worth watching, then keep reading…

She-Hulk’s strength is its cast… and definitely not its CGI

Let’s get the best and the worst aspects out of the way first.

The cast for the show is great, namely Maslany. She shines as She-Hulk, portraying charm and personality, which is very much needed given that she is surrounded by subpar CGI most of the time.

The CGI is better looking than it was in the trailers – which makes us worry about the continued working conditions the effects team had to go through – but it still looks video game-esque, and Maslany’s performance is definitely great in spite of it.

The effects aren’t much better for the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); when Jenn goes to hug him it really looks like she’s hugging air. But Ruffalo is still great as ever in the role. While Episode 1, which focuses on Bruce Banner training Jenn, is arguably the weakest episode plot-wise, the brother-sister dynamic between the two is incredibly enjoyable to watch.

The rest of the cast manages to be charming and fun, which perfectly fits the vibe of the show. And the other uses of CGI aren’t quite as bad, thankfully.

She-Hulk shines as a light-hearted courtroom comedy… most of the time

One thing that sets She-Hulk apart is that she doesn’t want to be a superhero, she wants to remain a lawyer. Therefore, the story isn’t an epic tale, rather a fun slice of life show with superheroes and demons thrown in.

The series likes to focus on a particular court case in each episode, featuring super-beings that we’ve seen in other Marvel properties. You could almost imagine this show being a series of comedic YouTube shorts, as the setup for some of these cases is hilariously wacky. The show knows this, and totally leans in, even spoofing Law and Order in some of its promotional material.

And to be honest, this rom-com courtroom comedy atmosphere is an enjoyable atmosphere to be in, and doesn’t feel too far out of the MCU’s overall tone, even if some of the characters, especially Jenn’s best friend, feel like stereotypes of its genre. But when the show focuses on this style, rather than trying to link to any greater story in the franchise’s universe, that is where it shines most.

However, while this vibe makes the show fun to watch, it does fall into the trappings of the MCU, namely that it often undercuts genuine emotional pathos with stupid jokes.

The fourth-wall-breaking that She-Hulk does, while working in the comics, just doesn’t seem to fit here. Often Jenn is just relaying things that we already know, or it’s used as a defensive lampshade, with Jenn stating meta jokes before Twitter can. It gets a laugh once or twice, but mostly feels redundant and forced.

And the light-hearted tone does have its problems when you think about the lost potential. She-Hulk stands out from her male predecessor in that she is instantly able to control her anger, but this arguably takes away what made the Hulk so compelling. There’s no tension, no fear of the self, no angst. The decades of torment that Bruce went through are whisked away for Jenn with a training montage and some quips, which feels detrimental to the potential character arc that we could see Jenn have.

Now, to be fair, the show does explore how women have to control their emotions much more so than men for fear of being belittled or murdered, which is a theme that carries through the rest of the series.

She-Hulk’s feminist message isn’t just tacked on – it’s built into the story

The MCU and feminism have had a rocky road. Female heroes rarely get the spotlight, and when they do – like in that Endgame “she’s got help” sequence – it can feel patronisingly tacked on.

Naturally, in a show about how a woman suddenly becoming green, gigantic, and super strong may affect her dating and work life, feminist struggles do come up. Themes of tokenism, size fetishization, sexist injustice in the workplace, and sexual harassment are all explored, and they thankfully don’t feel tacked on. Rather, they feel like issues that everyday women face, well, every day.

Add in meta jokes about how female superheroes – and their actors – are treated by the media and the general public, and the show manages to say a lot about serious issues while also being a fun romp.

The series holds a fun place in the MCU

Now, as is the case with MCU projects, there are always cameos and Easter Eggs. She-Hulk seemed filled to the brim with these in the trailers, to the point where concern arose that they were over-compensating with fan service.

Thankfully, while there are a lot of references – be they humorous, emotional, or just plain bizarre – they don’t feel forced. As the series is about dealing with all walks of super-powered life, naturally some familiar faces are going to appear. Plus, they fit with the overall meta tone of the show.

Special mention goes to Wong (Benedict Wong) and the Abomination (Tim Roth), who are both delightful to watch.

Wong in the MCU
Wong is back, and better than ever.

Overall, while She-Hulk isn’t going to exactly shake the MCU up as of right now, the series is still worth a watch, and probably better than many critics expected.

The show is light-hearted and simple, but enough plot points have been introduced to keep you intrigued, and we’ll definitely be tuning in for the rest of the series.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Episode 2 will premiere on Disney+ on August 25.