In the past few years, it seems like the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken over our screens. And recently, it’s also taken over the courtroom.
In Disney+’s new series ‘She-Hulk: Attorney At Law’ starring Tatiana Maslany and Ginger Gonzaga, Maslany plays Jen Walters, a 30-something attorney who’s worked hard to get where she’s at, but she also happens to have another side—a quite large side rather, as a 6-foot-7-inch super-powered hulk.
Based on the comics of the same name, the new series is written by ‘Rick and Morty’ alum Jessica Gao, and directed by Kat Coiro for many episodes of the first season.
“I remember very vividly being a little girl and seeing the cover of a ‘She-Hulk’ comic amidst the sea of male comics,” says Coiro in a global press conference. “And just not knowing who she was or what this was, but knowing that I was moved by it. Taking up space was something that really resonated with me. And I remember, I bought that comic book. And so, when this show came along, it was really the culmination of a real dream.”
Gao also resonated with that sentiment of taking on a woman in action. Although Marvel does have female superheroes, this is one of the first endeavors that shows a character in a new light—a realistic light (despite the jolly green aspect) where life is shown as complicated, heartbreaking and also, really funny.
“You know, it was just so lighthearted and fun and refreshing. So that was always kind of a foundational element,” explains Gao. “And for me, because I come from TV comedy, the comedy was a priority.”
But as Gao puts it, the show also shines a light on a powerful woman who still has to maneuver in a world full of dating, friendships and swiping left or right. Which we see Jen do, and then some. And she does it all after having this hulk-like ability thrust upon her.
“Women are so often depicted as being catty, and b*tchy,” Gao continues. “It was actually [Jen’s] conflict with it all that I found most interesting…Her resistance to it. She’s built this life for herself that she does not want to let go of, she’s worked so hard to be a lawyer and she has to constantly prove herself. So she’s in this path, and then when this thing happens to her, she has to contend with a whole other perception being placed on top of her and expectations societally of how she should be and who she should be.”
For this role, Maslany had to instill elements that are still fairly new to the Marvel world, like breaking the fourth wall (“we did it before ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Fleabag’,” the cast jokes.) But similar to other films and TV, there are some also familiar characters that make appearances. Such as She-Hulks’s counterpart, Hulk.
“When Mark [Ruffalo] comes to set and it’s Mark and I are doing these kind of sibling scenes, where we’re ripping each other, but we also love each other very much,” explains Maslany. “It was a very easy dynamic to bring to camera because it just was right. It just made sense, you know what I mean? And I feel like a lot of the characters in this show have that ring of truth that’s very easy to bring.”
Staying true to the story and its elements was also a focal point for Cairo when directing, especially when it came to melding the comedy and the action.
“You know, it was one of the biggest challenges of the series. Absolutely. Because action and CGI take a lot of rigid preparedness, and a comedy is the opposite, where you want looseness and you want to be able to play a little,” Coiro explains.
Ultimately, ‘She-Hulk’ paints an interesting portrait of a woman who is part superhuman with mortal problems. Luckily, she has supportive friends (Nikki, played by Gonzaga) and a powerful will to help her conquer her life and problems both in and out of the courtroom.
“To navigate those two versions: The outside perception of [Jen,] that to me was super interesting and that’s why I [wanted to sign on],” finishes Maslany. “And honestly, when I read the pilot, I wanted so badly to audition for this because it’s so funny and it’s mundane and small…You know, in a way that I’ve always dreamed of watching a superhero show that had the in-between moments. That to me is engaging cinema.”
‘She-Hulk: Attorney At Law’ streams exclusively on Disney+ starting Aug. 17.
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