‘She-Hulk’ is big and colorful, but the Marvel comic is too weak to be a smash



Ironically, the most buzzed-about aspect of the premiere — how the computer-generated title character will look — is the least of the show’s worries. For the most part those scenes are good, maybe a little reminiscent of “Avatar” in the way the Hulk towers over the common folk.

Instead, the show delves into not-so-easy comedy and emphasizes spectacle, feeling intensely episodic once the obligatory origin story gets out of the way. While there’s nothing wrong with a screwball office comedy, based on the four episodes previewed, that genre hardly plays to Marvel’s strengths.

For those unfamiliar with the character, the premiere sets up Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters as the cousin of Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who accidentally brings his blood with him, with extraordinary strength and size (6’7″, in her case, a little more down to earth).

Unfortunately, that same episode also establishes that Jessica will occasionally break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience, a tired-enough device that proves especially awkward in this case, as she adjusts to her superpowers and switches back and forth between them. Ordinary people.

“You don’t go back to what you were before,” Hulk tells her, though she gradually recognizes some beneficial aspects of her larger-than-life personality as part of She-Hulk’s DNA.

“She-Hulk” thus offers a tabloid-esque, TMZ-informed view of the superhero world, with Jessica, a reluctant newcomer, acting as a de facto guide. If the idea holds promise, the execution falls short despite the occasional laugh.

Comedy writer Jessica Gao and director Cat Coiro (whose recent credits include the Jennifer Lopez film “Marry Me”) have some fun with all the Marvel-ness, from various cameos to references to the early Hulk movies to Ruffalo and Jessica’s unhealthy interest in Captain America’s personal life. In Maslany, the chameleon-like star of “Orphan Black,” he’s a solid lead, without the kind of substance that flexes those muscles.

The main problem is that, with Jameela Jamil, the super-powered influencer Titania, barely registering in the early episodes, there’s nothing to drive the narrative, each with a mid-credits joke.

The underlying proposition of Marvel’s Disney+ series relies on the opportunity to contain stories, characters and tones that lack the weight or appeal to carry a big-screen incarnation, again, an unqualified approach. However, the late impact, after an auspicious start, is more inclined towards weakening rather than enhancing the flagship brand.

Even though early series have their flaws, they usually contain enough thrills to justify the hype. In contrast, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” presents a weak case for sticking around until the end. While the rest of the issue could reverse that summary judgment, so far, it doesn’t have the appeal to win on appeal.

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” premieres August 18 on Disney+.



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