Marvel Studios' She-Hulk is the show that the MCU needs, even though it may feel like the hype isn't exactly strong. The most notable thing about She-Hulk when its first trailers came out were how much people lambasted the CGI. But since She-Hulk stars Tatiana Maslany — who made her name as a chameleon in Orphan Black — it already felt like a must-watch. And as Jennifer Walters, the cousin of Bruce Banner, Maslany really makes She-Hulk a great show.
Yes, She-Hulk may seem like just another origin story in a sea full of them. Except it's far better than your average "This is how I became super-powered" story. This time, a spoon-full of comedy makes the super-powered complexity go down very smoothly.
For as much as I loved Ms. Marvel (and enjoyed Moon Knight as well), I'm more than aware that MCU fatigue is real, and that each of those shows weren't exactly what all audiences wanted. Some didn't want a teen's story, and made the mistake of overlooking Kamala Khan's adventure. And Moon Knight? Well, I liked how serpentine and odd its storytelling was, but that didn't really match expectations for the MCU. She-Hulk, however, feels perfectly at home in the MCU, despite it treading new ground in its format.
So, for this She-Hulk review (which covers episodes 1 through 4 of the new MCU show), I thought I'd explain why I'm so desperate to see episode 5. Also, this is a spoiler-free review, so don't worry about me spilling plot points that will take away from the experience. If you have watched the episodes, though, check out our guide to all the She-Hulk post-credit scenes and Easter eggs.
Oh, and a bit of breaking news: Mark Ruffalo says expect She-Hulk in the next Avengers movies.
She-Hulk episode 1 review: Easing us in with two familiar faces
The first Marvel shows on Disney Plus — WandaVision and The Falcon & The Winter Soldier — offered us more of characters who weren't fully explored in the MCU. And She-Hulk slyly gives us that with more Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Hulk (well, Smart Hulk) than you might expect. He's here in the first episode of this new series, helping Jen figure out how to be a Hulk. That said, the whole process of her becoming a Hulk feels a little slap-dash, but the show doesn't linger on it, so you might not even think about it for too long.
And while this may seem like a trick to get people in the door — hey, here's a beloved Avenger who never got his proper shine with a standalone movie — it also works fantastically well. Of course Bruce would want to help his cousin out, as she's going through something only he has experienced.
Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for these two), Jen and Bruce do not get along. And we get a bunch of hilarious scenes where training montages and playful familial bickering get a bit destructive. Imagine if Thor and Loki had a healthy relationship, and you know where I'm going. The two argue about whose way is right, Jen doesn't want the life Bruce led, and surprises about how Jen can handle her powers abound.
All throughout, Jen is breaking the fourth wall in a way that feels natural for TV and surprising for the MCU. Make sure to stay for the credits scene, though. It's fantastic.
She-Hulk review: About that CGI
One of the biggest topics of debate in the lead-up to She-Hulk was that her CGI supposedly looked bad. I've never been a huge critic of the CGI in the MCU, but when Hulk and She-Hulk are side by side, you can tell that Marvel's had a head-start on Ruffalo's Hulk.
That said, I never once felt distracted by She-Hulk's look. The character and Maslany's performance are so engaging that I was too focused on what she was doing to spend much thought on how she looked.
She-Hulk episode 2 review: Going deeper into the MCU
Now that we've (mostly) used up our time with Bruce Banner, She-Hulk's second episode brings us to the meat of the series. Jennifer Walters — now dubbed She-Hulk — is working within the legal world of the MCU. Jen's unease with being defined as She-Hulk is front and center in this outing, and it makes this series feel like more than just a vehicle for cameos. Jen's frustrations with being She-Hulk are overall one of the best parts of the show, as Maslany makes the character more relatable.
Of course, since every single Marvel movie or show has a villain or two (or three), it's always been obvious that She-Hulk will never be short on potential bad guys. This time, we start a bit close to home with Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. The Abomination (Tim Roth). Last seen fighting in Shang-Chi (and first seen in The Incredible Hulk, that Edward Norton-led MCU movie we never talk about), this guy actually tried to kill Hulk/Bruce Banner, an obvious conflict-of-interest.
That said, Roth's take on Blonsky — who's been living in the DODC supermax prison — is hilarious. I'm not sure every Marvel villain will be able to be as comical as Blonsky, but I'm seriously impressed with what the She-Hulk team's come up with here. Especially when they pull out a reference that I won't even begin to spoil here.
This episode is also where we reintroduce the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Wong (Benedict Wong). While Wong has been playing a great (often small) part in the MCU up until now, She-Hulk is giving him the opportunities to really let loose comedically.
We also finally get to meet some of Jen and Bruce's relatives in this episode, and they unfortunately ring as a little too thinly written and comical. This will possibly improve (at least for Jen's father, played by Mark Linn Baker), but these performances had me aching for the Khan family. My issues with these and other tertiary characters may just highlight a truth about some sitcoms, but these characters kinda stand out in a bad way.
She-Hulk episode 3 review: A case (and cast) builds
The third and final episode released in the first batch is all about the trial of Emil Blonsky. After another excellent bit of fourth-wall breaking, we start to spend more time at the legal firm where She-Hulk is working.
This means we get to spend more time around the annoying Dennis (Drew Matthews), likable colleague Augustus "Pug" Pugliese (Josh Segarra) and Jen's best friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga), who also happens to be a paralegal. Much like Jen's parents, Nikki seems a bit under-written, but Dennis and Pug seem to be right on point. We also meet one of She-Hulk's possible rivals in this episode, as fellow superhuman lawyer Mallory Book is casually introduced.
If She-Hulk is going to be a legal-case-of-the-week show, episode 3 is arguably the strongest proof that this show will be great. A case of super-powered catfishing gives everyone opportunity to have fun with chaos, and it's an easy to watch half-hour of amusing TV.
When it comes to who gets the best lines, Wong probably benefits the most from all the goings-on. Some of his lines are nice nods to the past, but it's amazing to watch him continue to fit into the legal world.
She-Hulk episode 4 review: Wong needs help
The first episode that will be released on its own week feels like another step forward into showing us what She-Hulk will be going forward. Wong is the only MCU character to cameo this time, as the rest of the space is filled up by a cornball magician who is wreaking havoc and a list of annoying men that Jen and She-Hulk go on dates with.
Yes, dating apps and swiping come into play, in scenes that make She-Hulk feel more like a normal sitcom — in a good way — than most before them. Much like how the little things of Kamala Khan's high school life made that show feel more alive, the disaster of dating in your 30s makes She-Hulk feel more like an everyday sitcom.
And that's especially the case when Jen has to juggle her responsibilities as She-Hulk with her want to have a personal life. It all meshes really well.
Outlook: Can She-Hulk keep this up?
Having only seen four out of nine episodes, I'm writing this She-Hulk review with a bit of cautious optimism. As the first MCU sitcom, She-Hulk is creating a new path. And so far it's a "HULK SMASH" of a show, even just off of Tatiana Maslany's charisma and skills alone.
I'm not saying She-Hulk needs all these MCU tie-ins — we're going to get another big MCU cameo soon, as an appearance from Daredevil (Charlie Cox) is already confirmed — but they certainly help make She-Hulk more interesting. If She-Hulk sustains its quality and energy, it will definitely be a top three Marvel Disney Plus show (WandaVision and Ms. Marvel, in that order, are my top two at the moment). I'm very curious about where this show is headed, and not just because that's my job.
Right now, it seems like Titania (Jameela Jamil) will be the big bad of the series, and Jamil's work on The Good Place gives us reason to trust her in that role. There's also a small band of weirdos that may play a larger role, but I can't really say much about them without risking spoilers. If She-Hulk can still be an entertaining show without big cameos, that's when we'll know that Jen's no longer stuck as a derivative of her cousin and the MCU at large.
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