Well, nobody can accuse Marvel Studios of not having their finger on the pulse! Sometimes this can go a little too far, as at least one major sequence in the recently-released "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" ended up carrying a whiff of fan-pleasing desperation (to be fair, Marvel isn’t alone in resorting to these measures). But otherwise, this mostly just proves that Kevin Feige and his team of storytellers have crunched the numbers and figured out the formula to ensure an unparalleled degree of fandom loyalty and pop culture dominance. You see, taking over the box office on a yearly basis just wasn’t enough. Now, they’ve expanded to streaming with their various Disney+ shows and guaranteed that, more often than not, a Marvel superhero story will be all anyone’s talking about.
With yesterday’s trailer debut for "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," the studio has once again displayed an uncanny ability to deliver on what audiences so clearly want. In this case, the super-sized series is very clearly riding the wave of two major factors: the well-earned goodwill stemming from recent comic storylines written by John Byrne, Dan Slott, and Chris Claremont … and the internet’s overriding horniness for abnormally large femdom figures who could snap you in half without breaking a sweat. (Need I even remind anyone of the state of social media when we first got a look at the Tall Vampire Lady in "Resident Evil Village"?)
With everything that "She-Hulk" has going for it — not least of all the immense talent of "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters — the series couldn’t possibly be better positioned for a successful debut, introducing yet another new superhero into a Marvel Cinematic Universe that could desperately use some new and exciting fresh blood (even if it’s of the greenish variety). So on that note, let’s take a deep dive into everything the trailer revealed.
Trial by fire
We open with a voiceover narration by none other than Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, the other big green guy we’ve become well-acquainted with throughout the MCU. "Being a superhero is a trial by fire," Banner (presumably) tells Jennifer while the trailer flashes brief snippets of soldiers with some pretty nifty-looking advanced weaponry, a ballroom drenched in red hues, a quartet of threatening henchmen (one of whom is armed with a crossbow!), and a wrecked SUV careening off a road to underline his point. "Who’s gonna protect the world without people like you?"
Although those out of the loop could interpret the big guy’s presence in this series as a sign of lacking confidence in this new story, this is one crossover that makes perfect sense. Comic fans will need no reminder that the source material establishes Jennifer Walters as Bruce Banner’s more mild-mannered cousin. While he was out Avenging and saving the world from Thanos’ wrath in "Avengers: Endgame," the fun-loving Jennifer was busy with her nose in her law books as a practicing attorney.
Meet Jennifer Walters
Attorney by day and, well, attorney by night, too. That’s kind of her entire deal. We’re quickly introduced to Jennifer Walters by Jennifer herself, who lays out her "demanding" occupation, her "great friends," and her "frustrating family" that all keep her occupied. It seems this little self-intro is taking place at a bar and I’d wager this is a blind date of sorts, which would contrast nicely with the ending moments of the trailer (but more on that later). Here we find out that her law firm boss has set up a "Superhuman Law Division," a neat way to integrate her comic counterpart’s traditional area of focus with the vastly different way that the MCU has developed (I’d say the development of a division like this is about a decade or so too late, but better late than never!), and guess who has been specifically chosen to lead it?
Here, we also get a quick look at a returning Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination, though now in his familiar human form. Technically, his grand return after first appearing in 2008’s "The Incredible Hulk" took place in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," with that underground super-powered fight club sequence between him and Wong (Benedict Wong). In a neat bit of interconnectivity, Abomination promptly left that movie by stepping into a portal conjured by Wong … which just so happened to tease the exact same containment unit we see Blonsky residing in here. If he turns out to be Jennifer’s first case in this new gig, well, talk about throwing her right into the fire.
Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em
Speaking of family, we then cut to Bruce Banner who notably still remains in Professor Hulk mode after the events of "Endgame." I’ve sort of given up on trying to track this character’s arc throughout the MCU, as so much of his development has taken place entirely off-screen and in-between appearances (him figuring out how to integrate Bruce Banner with Hulk in the five-year time jump in "Endgame" is a particularly egregious example of this). But confusingly enough, our last look at Banner happened to be in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which oddly showed him in puny Banner mode with his arm in a sling — leaving us to assume that this was a lingering injury from wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. Here, however, he’s still Hulked out and appears to be perfectly fine physically (you know, other than the Hulk of it all). There’s still some wiggle room in terms of exactly when these post-"Endgame" movies and shows take place in the MCU timeline, but I’ll leave that to smarter folks to figure out!
Anyway, this meet-up appears to be set in some tropical paradise, far away from the prying eyes. Hulk has probably earned a bit of a vacation after nearly losing his arm reversing Thanos’ snap, wouldn’t you say? "You didn’t ask for this, but you still gotta deal with it," he tells his cousin, likely providing some much-needed advice for the busy and overworked lawyer. The famously anger-driven hero is right in the middle of teaching Jennifer some form of meditation, which will probably come in handy with what happens next.
Anger and fear
In the comics, a blood transfusion with Bruce leads to Jennifer becoming imbued with similar powers to himself. Here, the transformation process (triggered by "anger and fear," as Bruce warns her) seems to involve some high-tech science gadgetry, a terrifying-looking room full of spinning blades, and a gawking Professor Banner in the background, who seems a little too bemused about subjecting his family to this ordeal. But the bottom line is that it works! She-Hulk is well and truly born, for reasons that will either be lifted directly from the comics or given a quintessential MCU twist.
In the immediate aftermath, Jennifer seems to struggle with balancing her newfound fame with her desire to "just want to be a normal, anonymous lawyer." The series has been previously billed as a "half-hour legal comedy," so we wouldn’t quite expect a dark and serious examination of how these powers will affect someone like Jennifer. On the face of it, the fun and breezy tone would seem to match exactly what readers would want from an adaptation of the fan-favorite comic runs. And as someone who has been largely enjoying Marvel’s recent Disney+ offerings, this already feels like yet another winner.
‘You’re a story now’
Okay, it’s probably time to stop ignoring the elephant in the room here. Yeah, the VFX work on display in this trailer feels … incomplete, to put it mildly. Though it’s way too early for this narrative to overshadow everything that looks genuinely entertaining about this series (I’m a little hesitant about burying Tatiana Maslany’s natural charisma underneath layers of uncanny valley CGI, admittedly), it’s also true that Marvel’s track record in this department throughout the past several years has felt rather lackluster. Given how much time Jennifer will spend in her She-Hulk persona here, that’s probably an issue that the creative team will want to get out in front of by the time this series debuts. Unfortunately, this is simply the kind of thing that happens when overworked and underpaid VFX vendors are tasked with completing multiple different movies and shows all at the same time and on an absurdly compact schedule.
But back to "She-Hulk," a montage of public appearances show Jennifer managing to enjoy all the attention she’s getting and, more to the point, all the ways that her newfound powers help with her legal interests. It’s probably not strictly procedure to introduce a bit of fisticuffs in courtroom settings ("She-Hulk"/"Better Call Saul" crossover WHEN?), but I for one am looking forward to a nice blind of legal drama and superheroics. The trailer crescendos with more of the Hulk and She-Hulk’s training, a blink-and-miss flash of Jameela Jamil’s villainous Titania (whom She-Hulk appears to be fighting in that above screenshot), and most importantly Frog-Man!
Maybe there IS horniness in the MCU, after all
Alright, you got me. This entire breakdown was just an excuse to talk about how hilarious and amazing it is that the big concluding moment of this "She-Hulk" trailer is just about Jennifer Walters wanting to get laid by a guy who isn’t intimidated by her appearance, for a change. Dating is a pain, man! I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it would be as an intelligent lawyer with very little free time and who also happens to be blessed (cursed?) with Hulk-like abilities.
An endless tidal wave of fan-art and fanfic was probably birthed by the sole image of Jennifer carrying her date to bed, and for once I have to wonder if Marvel themselves are prepared for what they’ve just unleashed. Either way, it’s actually kind of a relief to see the normally buttoned-up and profoundly sexless franchise actually bother to acknowledge that one of these extremely attractive adults might want to, you know, have some fun once in a while. If this ends up upsetting the bizarre contingent of online viewers who insist that we’re overrun by "useless sex scenes" (it’s actually quite the opposite, I can’t emphasize this enough!), all the better.
"She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" will debut on Disney+ August 17, 2022.