Warning: this review contains spoilers from She-Hulk episode 2. If you have not watched the latest entry in the MCU, then turn back now!
She-Hulk has found its groove. After a premiere that was mainly origin story and notably light on Jennifer Walters’ lawyer life, the second episode enters pure legal comedy territory, resulting in a fun foray into Jen’s often hilarious life as a six-foot-seven green hulk. The tonal shift establishes the show as a lighter and sillier take on MCU – and it’s a breath of fresh air.
The episode opens in the aftermath of Titania’s explosive entrance into the courtroom and Jen’s subsequent ‘Hulking out’ to save the day. By the time the newly-minted She-Hulk makes it to her favorite bar to celebrate the win, she’s already made the news with a superhero nickname she loathes. However, Jen only gets a few minutes to enjoy her newfound notoriety – and the free drinks that come along with it – before her boss promptly fires her for proving a liability in the courtroom.
Freshly unemployed, Jen’s attempts to land a new job aren’t looking good as no one’s keen to hire a superpowered lawyer. Her family life isn’t much fun either as her parents aren’t exactly impressed that she’s a Hulk (“She’s not even the first Hulk in the family!”). Instead, she’s quizzed over her single status, unemployment, and her weight. Trust your family to keep you humble…
While the writing in these scenes sometimes lacks bite, often going for the obvious joke, Tatiana Maslany elevates the comedy with facial expressions and perfectly placed fourth-wall breaks. There are laugh-out-loud moments, and Maslany’s easy charm as Jen has you rooting for her. When Jen’s legal career is not completely over, then, it’s a relief. She’s offered a job working for the superhuman division at a new firm. The catch? She’s expected to show up in Hulk form whenever she’s in the office and representing her clients. Oh, and her first case is Emil Blonsky, AKA Abomination, AKA the guy that tried to kill her cousin Bruce.
Tim Roth is back fresh off his cameo in Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings. While he was barely used in that movie, that’s not the case here, with Roth proving a delight as the misunderstood supervillain trying to convince Jen he’s a changed man. There’s no keeping a straight face as he explains that he’s fallen in love with a group of “soulmates” and plans to move to a farm with them. Thank goodness head writer Jessica Gao has confirmed he’ll be in multiple episodes, because he’s a much-needed fun addition to the She-Hulk universe.
The Abomination storyline also leads to some great meta moments. For instance, when Jen is trying to work out whether she can morally take on the case, she calls up her cousin Bruce to monologue her thoughts at him. When he manages to get a word in, he reassures her that he’s “a completely different person now” in a fun nod to the Abomination fight happening back in The Incredible Hulk (2008) when Edward Norton played the green goliath. It’s a silly gag, sure, but the MCU is pretty silly. It constantly asks its viewers to accept recast actors, changing character personalities, and confusing plot lines shifting from one project to another. It’s a fun move to lean into the absurdity, rather than skirt around minor plot holes.
Some things that I had issues with in the opener are less frustrating here. The CGI looks much better now Jen’s not next to Ruffalo’s Hulk all the time. There are still moments that are slightly unnatural, but once the story took off, I found myself not really caring. The fourth-wall breaks are working well, too. They felt like an afterthought in the premiere, the writers trying to add some Fleabag magic, but they’re much more a part of Jen’s personality now, and they lead to some of the funniest gags.
By the end, Jen’s taken the new job – just in time for news to break that Abomination broke out of prison, as seen in Shang-Chi. Jen looks to camera in exasperation and it feels like She-Hulk, the show, has fully established itself as a fun take on the sometimes too serious business of being a superhero. Not everything has to be profound or have world-ending stakes in the MCU, sometimes you just need a half hour of legal puns and silly jokes about polyamory.
Make sure you don’t miss a moment of the Disney Plus series with out She-Hulk release guide. If you’re looking forward to what else is happening in the MCU, we’ve also compiled a guide to all of the upcoming Marvel shows and movies on the way.