She Hulk: Expectations

The latest Marvel series on Disney Plus premieres this Thursday (August 18th) to high and mixed expectations. She-Hulk tells the story of Jennifer Walters, a young female lawyer who is turned into a Hulk after a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, the original Hulk. The comics originally started with Walters essentially being a female version of her cousin but then morphed into an exploration and development of her own character and life focusing on her role as a lawyer taking on oddball and intriguing super related cases. This turn in the comics also brought about more levity and humor to the character and story that the live action adaptation seemingly will carry on.

Obviously, there are some changes to source material, as there is with any adaptation, and even more so as Marvel continues to expand and grow its universe and brand; however, the announced cast is all top tier with Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black fame playing the titular role, Mark Ruffalo making cameos as the Hulk, and several established stars (Ginger Gonzaga, Jameela Jamil, etc.) rounding out the cast. As well, there seems to be several cameos and crossovers with other Marvel characters and properties making appearances to expand the world(s) of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Of course, as with most of the Disney Plus Marvel series, and to some extent with live action Marvel in general, there have already been some discourse and discontentment expressed.

I am sure this role will launch Maslany into the stratosphere and give her an abundance of fans from some very specific groups on the internet.

The major complaints have been along the lines of look and tone which are understandable. Having fully CGI characters will always be a challenge especially on a non big budget movie budget, but there has been apparent and noteworthy improvements in the looks of She-Hulk, Hulk, and other effects, at least from what can be extracted from the few trailers and scenes that have been released. Furthermore, the humorous tone and fourth wall narrative breaks are par for the course for comic stories and specifically for She-Hulk and Jennifer Walters. While there is an annoying vocal minority who criticize any frivolity or color or glee in the comic medium, in any form, actual reception of these types of series have proven them wrong or, at least, of little consequence. Even if existing in the same universe, different characters and different shows should have differing perspectives and aesthetics and tones because of course they would. This is essential to the potential longevity of the expanding universe.

More importantly, having variety adds to the quality of the series and ever growing universe. Along with the fourth wall breaking, Easter eggs, and humor, She-Hulk managed to give depth and dimension to the world and narratives of the comics by focusing on lesser seen aspects and elements of the larger comic stories. Elements such as the legalities of the aftermath of superhero battles, engagement of the common populace in relation to the antics of the supers (both hero and villain), and how much commonality the lesser known and street level supers and villains actually posses. In short, there was a sense of elevated adult (for lack of a better term) material amid the jokes.

This has been somewhat of a missing element of the MCU which we have only begun to really experience through the DisneyPlus series like Wandavision and Falcon and Winter Soldier. She-Hulk can add to this momentum and delve into the legalities and consequences for regular folks when capes and villains do their thing. And if given the same care as the most recent series, Ms. Marvel, I have high hopes for the potential of what this show and character can be solely based on the lead. Because, if nothing else, Tatiana Maslany has more than proven herself as a legitimate powerhouse talent that can vacillate from drama to comedy to action without issue. If the series simply lets Maslany act, it will be great. If it actually takes advantage of her skills and dives into the complications and politics and underlying tensions of the world of the MCU, then there is high possibility that it will become one of the best shows in the MCU canon.

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