It shows that “Moon Knight” wasn’t just a fluke as Marvel-sized disappointments go, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” is as bright, colorful, and goofy as it gets. Bending the mold is fine in theory, but gamma-irradiated powers and sitcom tropes result in a series that is too weak to do much damage.
Interestingly, ahead of its premiere, the most talked-about element — its computer-generated title character — is the least of the show’s concerns. In general, those scenes are fine, perhaps reminding us of “Avatar” in how the Hulks tower over ordinary folk.
It’s not easy being green comedy bogs down the show instead. It focuses on quirkiness, and after the required origin story, it feels episodic at best. Although there’s nothing wrong with screwball office comedy, based on the four episodes previewed, it’s hardly Marvel’s forte.
Those unfamiliar with the character, Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters is the cousin of Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), accidentally mixing her blood with his, giving her incredible strength and size (6’7″, in her case, so a little more down to Earth).
Unfortunately, in that episode, Jessica also begins to break the fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience. This tired-enough device is incredibly awkward in this context, requiring her to switch back and forth between her superpowered and ordinary selves.
“There is no going back to what you were before,” the Hulk tells her, yet She-Hulk’s DNA ensures she gradually recognizes the positive features of her larger-than-life personality.
“She-Hulk” offers a mainstream, TMZ-inspired view of the superhero world, with Jessica, the hesitant newcomer, acting as a mentor. If the idea has promise, but the execution falls short.
Scriptwriter Jessica Gao and director Kat Coiro (whose recent credits include the Jennifer Lopez movie “Marry Me”) play with the Marvel-ness.
There are a variety of cameos and references to early Hulk movies without Mark Ruffalo to Jessica’s unwholesome curiosity about Captain America’s personal life. But unfortunately, the chameleon-like star of “Orphan Black” also has an influential role that doesn’t allow her to flex those muscles.
The main problem is that there is little to drive the narrative, with Jameela Jamil, as the superpowered influencer Titania, barely featuring in the opening installments, each of which features a mid-credit gag.
The concept behind Marvel’s Disney+ series has hinged on the ability to tell stories, characters, and tones that wouldn’t have the weight or appeal for a big-screen adaptation, again, an approach not without merit. The late effect, however, after a promising start, seems to dilute the flagship brand rather than expand it.
While the early series had flaws, they provided enough excitement to justify the hype. By contrast, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” makes a flimsy case for staying around. Even though the remaining episodes could overturn that judgment, it lacks the appeal to succeed on appeal.
“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” will premiere on August 18 on Disney+.