When discussing the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or any massive expansive franchise), there’s a huge temptation to declare an installment the best yet. There’s been many a meme on Twitter poking fun at this phenomenon. While I’m not ready to say that She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is the best yet, I think it’s done a fantastic job of propelling Jen’s story forward and advancing her arc while still giving fans some juicy MCU Easter Eggs thus far. The first two episodes are a great story in character development and should be celebrated for that.
[Warning: Spoilers for She-Hulk episode 2 below!]
In this review, I will primarily discuss the second episode, “Superhuman Law.” Consider that Tatiana Maslany is in just about every scene as Jen or She-Hulk. There’s nothing happening off-camera, no nefarious scheming without it. The story is revealed in this episode as Jen experiences it. And I qualify this with “just about” every scene because while she isn’t speaking in the news montage teaser, she’s still the focus, and it’s not revealing anything new.
The teaser is a neat little way to recap what happened in “A Normal Amount of Rage” while also giving a bit of the fallout from that episode. (The new season 3 premiere episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks uses their Federation News Network as a recap in a similar way.)
The elephant in the room – Bruce and The Hulk
In one of the second episode’s early scenes, Jen says, “I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk.” The show is self-aware on so many levels. The writers and team behind the episode had the foreknowledge that their show would face headwinds opposing their success.
You can look at the review bombing of the first episode on IMDB and the chatter on Facebook for just a taste of the negativity. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has been called all matter of nonsense just because it has the “audacity” to focus on a woman character. It’s unearned snark, and some of the commentaries have been disappointing.
Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and the Hulk are assuredly important to her journey, and it’s his radioactive blood that sends Jen off on this new heroine’s journey. Still, otherwise, Bruce’s superheroness isn’t the defining story here. Jen has to decide whether or not to accept the job at GLK and H and take on Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) as a client. Blonsky and the Hulk have history, and they address it, but it doesn’t take the focus off Jen and her story.
Jen is driving the narrative train here, and it’s shown so skillfully by the writers. Towards the end of the episode, Jen calls her cousin (who is, we find out later, on a Sakaar ship in space) to talk through her decision to take on Blonsky’s case. After all, Blonsky tried to kill the Hulk (ahem) in The Incredible Hulk, all while under the influence of the super soldier serum and in his Abomination form.
But as Bruce notes, she’s already made her choice. And besides, he’s literally a different person now – sorry, Edward Norton. But this phone call between Jen and Bruce is an excellent way of showing Jen’s inner thoughts and her inner turmoil. And although we get a taste of her running thoughts in She-Hulk when she breaks the fourth wall, the phone call scene is an adept and novel way of accomplishing that, too.
The greater MCU story and She-Hulk Easter Eggs
What I also appreciate about this episode is that the connections to the greater MCU are seamlessly interwoven, and at the same time, some of the moments that cause fans to gasp are not central to Jen’s story. The story’s primary focus is her life, struggles, and journey. You could technically cut out the other surface-level references, and it wouldn’t impact the story. They don’t slow the pace down at all and instead complement it.
The biggest MCU thing besides Blonsky’s new story with Jen, which we covered, is Bruce. Bruce is in Smart Hulk form and is in space on what looks like that Sakaar ship from the first episode. While I’m envious of his cell reception out there exploring the galaxy, this is a tidy way to tie up some of his story with She-Hulk while setting the stage for whatever comes next with his character. There have been rumors of a new Hulk movie – maybe a World War Hulk storyline – but we have yet to get official confirmation.
In addition to the bigger Blonsky parole story, there’s a call out to Abomination in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. His fight club participation is now public, and we’re led to believe that’s got something to do with his escape from the Department of Damage Control supermax facility.
Jen is fired from the DDA office and feels hopeless for part of the episode. In a moment with Nikki, while she and Jen are perusing the internet looking for jobs, there are a few big reveals. First, the Eternals are referenced in a headline on a webpage. There’s an explainer about the giant statue in the ocean – aka a Celestial- and the events of that movie’s ending.
— Lumi (@LumiTWT_) August 25, 2022
Second, there’s also a reference to the character of Wolverine. The headline states, “Man fights with metal claws in bar brawl.” This seems to make the adamantium-enhanced character canon. (And after all, Ms. Marvel showed us that Mutants exist in the MCU – so the fact we’re seeing more of them is not surprising.)
There are a few smaller call-outs in that same screenshot. For one, there are now Iron Man Three’s – so the Stark legacy lives on in sneaker form. There’s also a “Find Ant-Man” category and an “Avengers” category. Finally, there’s a QR code on the page. If you point your phone or QR code reader of choice at it, you get a surprise. Marvel likes to hide QR codes in their TV show episodes that lead to comics – and the one here leads to the 1st issue of She-Hulk (2004) by Slott, Bobillo, and Sosa. (Sadly, the Blonsky QR code I spotted in the original She-Hulk trailer doesn’t appear to lead anywhere.)
There’s also possibly a Moon Knight Easter Egg that piqued my interest. The top headline in the job browsing scene with all the other goodies is about available jobs as a “Swiss Village Mascot.” The picture is tiny, but it looks similar to the mysterious village Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) took over in Moon Knight.
At the time of the Moon Knight episode’s airing, there was a ton of chatter as to whether or not this could be Dr. Doom’s Latveria. There was talk about it being an Austrian village, among others. I’m curious to see if the folks behind the show shed any light on this and whether or not the Swiss Village looking for mascots is indeed the one Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) visited.
Titania and the next steps
This episode was short, but that was the plan for the show from the start. Jen’s character development was excellent, and I think the next episodes will continue to build on that while fleshing out some of the storylines from “A Normal Amount of Rage.”
The biggest storyline we’ll surely learn more about is Titania (Jameela Jamil) and what she wants. She was mentioned in the recap and was the catalyst for the events of this episode – Jen losing her job as Deputy District Attorney – but the villainess’s motivations weren’t made clear.
It’s hard to give space to the competing storylines with the short episode timing. Marvel seemingly acknowledged this by giving fans more of a taste of Titania with this episode’s marketing. Jameela Jamil, dressed as Titania, defaced a billboard for She-Hulk in a spot that rapidly made its way around Twitter and got millions of views.
umm… somebody’s mad ? pic.twitter.com/Gy7NwU4qvH
— She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (@SheHulkOfficial) August 24, 2022
In addition to Titania, we will surely learn more about Blonsky’s band of seven merry friends. The marketing for the show, in scenes we’ve yet to see, has him as a spiritual guru. Since he’s now on the lam and Jen has to deal with that, it’s a safe bet that the storyline will be fleshed out.
I also hope we get more of the friendship between Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) and Jen as we move forward. The humor and heart that have been a hallmark of their friendship so far have been wonderful.
It also seems as if the seed for a friendship with Pug (Josh Segarra) has been planted – I’m looking forward to that developing. In the comics, Pug is a lawyer, but we don’t know his true role within the firm in the show yet. We just know that he brings gift baskets and maps to the best bathrooms.
You can watch new episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law every Thursday on Disney+. “Superhuman Law” is available to stream now. And if you haven’t checked out any of the shows yet and are still on the fence, take a gander at our review of the first episode.
What do you think of the story so far? What’s coming next? Please share your thoughts on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus.