Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

MCU Review: She-Hulk, Attorney at Law (SPOILERS)

Greetings Traveler!
So last night, I had the chance to watch the premier of Marvel's new She-Hulk, Attorney-at-Law on Disney+, a thoroughly enjoyable 38-minute episode starring the delightful Tatiana Maslany, perhaps best known for her stint on Orphan Black. My impressions are a bit spoilery, so join me after the break if you're interested.
I was kind of excited for this show, especially as I heard more about it: a quirky half-hour lawyer comedy, a la Ally McBeal. The first episode, while enjoyable, was not that. At all. And I'll get to why that may be in a minute.

So after a brief introduction of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Walters and her best friend/paralegal Nikki Ramos, along with her ADA rival, Dennis Bukowski, we are whisked off to a flashback that lasts most of the episode. Jennifer and her cousin Bruce are driving down a wooded road, when they encounter a sudden obstacle that causes Jen to swerve and roll the car off the side of the road and down an embankment. Both Jen and Bruce are pretty banged up, and he accidentally bleeds into one of her wounds, causing her to hulk out. After a couple harrowing experiences, she wakes up at Bruce's retreat and lab in Mexico. He attempts to train her in the ways of the Hulk, but she turns out to be adept at controlling her anger and therefore her Hulk persona, something that has taken Bruce well over a decade. We end in the courtroom of the case we saw Jen practicing for at the beginning of the episode, where a super-human woman, Titania, literally busts in and threatens the proceedings, forcing Jen to hulk out in order to protect those in attendance, particularly the jury.
The first episode was not what I was expecting from the series. And I found out that She-Hulk's origin story was supposed to happen later in the series, not the first episode, making me wonder about the decision made. Then I read about the IMDB rating:
Right now, She-Hulk has the highest percentage of Rating 1 in the MCU, right behind Ms. Marvel, another show centered around a female super-hero coming into her powers. I bet you can guess what movie is third. Frankly, this kind of brigading is silly—and yet angering (is that a word?), as well. A bunch of privileged a-holes think the girls are invading their clubhouse. Again. It's hard to believe that consumers have been able to form that strong an opinion based on a single episode, even one that hasn't really demonstrated the stated premise of the show. Which brings me to my earlier speculation. I think the creators sort of anticipated the backlash from the man-children out there, and attempted to frontload a little more Ruffa-Hulk (Hulk-alo?) into the premier. It wasn't necessarily the wrong decision, but it may have been made for the wrong reasons.

Personally, I liked the first episode, and I think the premise shows great promise. Once again, we're being treated to a different angle on the MCU. And I for one, while not normally a watcher of female lawyer comedies—or dramas—look forward to the ride. And even if She-Hulk gets pushed off a cliff by the meathead brigade, I think she has the perfect response for those troglodytes:

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  1. As a lifelong comics fan I find all of this almost incomprehensibly weird. I remember when She Hulk was created. I have her first appearances somewhere in the house. I remember reading the first-run series of her own title. I was active in comics fandom at the time and while I remember there being some chatter over the general advisability or otherwise of cloning existing characters in reverse gender, I absolutely do not recall any of it being centered around the idea that "girls can't be superheros".

    That was not something anyone thought. FFS, the biggest deal in the entire superhero universe, the WoW of its day, was the XMen, which was positively stuffed with female characters, some of them among the strongest in the MCU (As we didn't call it then.) - Storm, Rogue, Phoenix... Even the more obviously girly female X-Men came to be much-loved characters - Kitty Pride (Shadowcat as she became), Jubilee...

    Chris Claremont, who wrote all the X-Men books for years and was for a decade the most high-profile writer of superhero comics in the world, was known for being "a woman's writer" in that he focused heavily on female characters and storylines. I'm certainly not going to claim he was actually good at it - he always seemed like a man making a point to me - but it was known and almost unquestioningly accepted that it's what he was doing and no-one I can remember was going around trying to get him to stop.

    I could go much deeper with this because, while there were apalling issues of (mis)representation, while almost everything was done from an almost stereotypically male perspective and while there were way, way too few actual women writing the stories, male comics fans as a whole did not, when I was part of the group, have any conceptual objections to girls joining their club. (Not to mention that, in my personal comics fan peer group, which was extensive, women were very well-represented, present, active and in many cases leading.)

    Where this current hatred of women comes from I have no idea but I don't believe it comes from what I would have considered to be genuine comics fans. I think the fans I knew at that time would almost universally have been appalled by it.

    1. Yes, I think the world you and I grew up in was very different. For instance, Scooter was the tabletop gamer growing up. While it was something that interested me somewhat, I was never part of the social circle. I know couples that met through online gaming. But in this last decade or so, the man-trolls have really kicked it up a notch, questioning female gamer cred, going after female creators, and collectively whining about any female influence or representation in entertainment.

      I liked this first episode, but I also liked Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, so what do I know?