*Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 1*
Marvel fans get more Hulk smashing than the bargained for in the first episode of She-Hulk, as newly transformed Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) goes toe-to-green-toe with her cousin Bruce Banner. It’s a fun sequence that features as much banter as it does brawling, so to strengthen the spirit of the scene, director Kat Coiro made the actors play out as much of the action on set as possible.
“The philosophy with the VFX is always to capture as much of the actor’s genuine reaction as possible, so every beat of those scenes, we acted through – and a lot of that episode was influenced by Mark [Ruffalo] and Tatiana’s organic performance,” the Marry Me filmmaker tells Total Film. “One thing you can’t do is direct chemistry and as soon as I saw them together, I knew my life was going to be a lot easier because they have this incredible playfulness that’s really natural.
“We had them do everything,” she continues. “Are they leaping ten feet? No, but we’d have them jump as far as they could and bring all that intensity because what makes a great action scene is following the characters’ emotional arc through the action scene. Everything else is icing on the cake, really.”
At one point during the fight, which sees the pair of them destroy the beachside bar Bruce and Tony Stark lovingly made together, Bruce pushes Jen off of a cliff. In response, she flips the bird at her cuz as she falls – a giggle-worthy beat that “came about really late in preparation”, according to Coiro.
“My storyboard artist, Jeremy Simser, and I were going back and forth and talking about the attitude of the character. She’s a reluctant superhero, she doesn’t want to do it. He added the finger in his boards and it ended up making it all the way to the final shoot. It was very collaborative in that way.”
Jen’s insistence on not becoming an Avenger is what leads to her and Bruce’s bust-up in the first place. In an earlier sequence, the latter is shocked to learn that Jen can turn her alter ego off and on at will, which leads to her declaring she doesn’t need his training, saying she wants to return home, and storming out of Bruce’s hideout. Given that part of the story is technically told as a flashback, we know that Bruce lets her continue living life as a lawyer – but as he says in the opener, “weird stuff just kinda finds you when you’re a Hulk”…
Also starring Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Benedict Wong, Jon Bass, Jameela Jamil, and Tim Roth, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law continues next Thursday (August 25). While we wait for the next episode to land on Disney Plus, check out our breakdown of the Marvel timeline to get you up to speed on the MCU.