She-Hulk: Superhuman Law

Hey, so I’m part of the MCU now, right? Do I get points or merchandising or anything?

Jennifer Walters has had her origin and become the newest MCU hero, as the unassuming attorney is now also very publicly She-Hulk. Bruce gave her a lot of warnings in the first episode that she mocked and ignored, and is now finding out he was right on many fronts. We see a new chapter in her life, some family developments, an old villain returning, and a lot of meta-jokes and links to other bits of the MCU. Jennifer Walters now enters the exciting world of “Superhuman Law.”

The episode starts with news coverage of the She-Hulk/Titania fight. While the courtroom artist work is stunning, the fight itself is made to seem as ridiculous as possible, especially considering what apparently started the villain (sorry, social influencer) running in the first place. Jennifer gets dragged out for a celebratory night by her friend and paralegal Nikki, and is persuaded to go in as her green alter ego. The two banter about details in the Avengers’ lives as they drink. While things start off well, she has a meeting with her boss that goes poorly, but I have to say I understand his point of view.

Nikki, indefatigable friend that she is, immediately helps Jen look for a new job. Whatever else the show may be about, the friendship between these two is a great thing. Who wouldn’t want a Nikki in their corner? Jen’s job search also lets the show sneak some interesting links onto her computer screen, including the first time the events of Eternals have been referenced outside their movie, and what seems like a reference to a certain clawed Canadian mutant. Jen gets invited to family dinner, and Nikki wisely bails, claiming she has a date. I have no idea if she did or not, but I’d have come up with an excuse, too. The dinner is a scene out of a low-key hell, with Jennifer dealing with assorted annoying relatives, including her well-meaning mother who is way too friendly with strangers. They could have played the entire evening for laughs and/or to show how miserable Jennifer’s family life is, but instead, there’s a great scene at the end of the night. It starts off seeming like another “now that you have powers, can you…?” kind of thing, but instead it’s a very nice scene with Jennifer and her father, played by Mark Linn-Baker, best known from the sitcom Perfect Strangers.

Later, Jennifer quite understandably stops by the bar she was in before, in a much less celebratory mood. She gets an unexpected visit and even more unexpected offer from a recent adversary, and things just might be looking up for the gamma-powered attorney. As an aside, one thing they keep getting wrong: a mistrial isn’t a loss. It means the case needs to get heard over again. It’s a big difference the writers don’t seem to grasp. Maybe do some research if you’re writing a “fun lawyer show?” Monday morning, Jennifer goes to her new job and gets a lot of surprises, most of which she doesn’t like. There are conditions to her employment, ranging from her appearance to her first case. There’s a fourth wall breaking rant about her new restrictions, but she has managed to bring Nikki with her, makes a new work friend, and has a great office. Nikki is relentlessly upbeat, and brings a counter up for every one of Jen’s complaints. One nice touch: the law firm is Goodman, Leiber, Kurtzman, and Holloway. The first three are the real names of the founders of Marvel Comics (a lot of people don’t realize Stan Lee was a pen name for young Stanley Leiber, and Jack Kirby was a similar alias for Kurtzman).

Later, Holloway calls Jen in for a meeting, and she’s clearly not used to the trappings of a luxury office. Her enjoyment gets cut a bit short when she finds out her first client is going to be Emil Blonsky, AKA The Abomination, the villain from the Hulk movie that’s part of the MCU. Jennifer has some understandable qualms about this, but Holloway has anticipated all this and has prepared for it. He’s ruthless and manipulative, without doubt, but the man is very smart. Pressured into it, Jen goes to see Emil. I’m not sure where this is supposed to be; we’ve seen the Raft a few times and this definitely isn’t it, nor does it appear to be either the Vault or the Maximum Security wing of Rikers Island, as seen in the comics.

The prison is a very serious place, and Jen’s Silence of the Lambs quips aren’t well received. She goes in to meet Emil, and he’s not at all what she was expecting on any level. As he outlines his story from his point of view, you can see the wheels start turning in her head. Jennifer clearly goes from “I don’t want to do this,” to “Hey, I can win this.” Once she gets home, Jennifer calls Bruce and they confer about the job and the case. There’s a nice nod to the recasting of Bruce Banner, and we see what might be a set up for the Hulk’s next big adventure, and get a pretty good indication we might not see him again in this series.

With all the big issues dealt with, Jennifer makes a decision and an important phone call. Her new upbeat disposition lasts until partway through the call. Her new client has made the news, not at all in a good way, and we get a tie-in to Shang-Chi’s excellent movie. The episode closes on another break the fourth wall moment, and the end credits show some new illustrations from this episode, as well as some bits of Jennifer with her family.

What I Liked: Humor in hero shows can be a difficult line to walk, and they do it well here. It wasn’t overly heavy handed to the point of derailing either plot or character development. The fourth wall moments are entertaining, and very in keeping with a lot of her comic book run. I’m very intrigued by what’s up with Bruce. The nods to the wider MCU were nice, as was the hint about Wolverine. Between this and Ms. Marvel’s final scene, we are slowly getting teases about the X-Men finally joining the MCU.

What I Didn’t: They really needed to research the mistrial vs loss issue. I’d have liked for them to have identified the prison Emil was in. I know we’re supposed to, but I really loathed cousin Ched. And the Department of Damage Control is looking more and more villainous as time passes. I miss SHIELD.

This was a fun episode with some great ties to the larger world it’s in. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5, and am very much looking forward to Daredevil showing up, and seeing if a few other rumors pan out.