‘She-Hulk’: The Creative Team On Merging a Comedic “Lawyer Show” With the MCU
Hey, even Super Heroes need legal help.
Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk is now in session and that can only mean one thing: The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get bigger, greener, and weirder.
The series, revolving around unassuming 30-something Jennifer Walters, follows her through her day-to-day in Los Angeles as she tries to be the best lawyer she can be, while also struggling with her personal love life. That’s made even more difficult after she’s involved in a car accident with her cousin Bruce Banner — yes, that Bruce Banner — and some of his gamma-laced blood gets into her system. Now, whether Jen likes it or not, she’s a Hulk, too.
But, all Jen wants to do is practice law! She wants to be normal! She doesn’t want to be a Hulk! Can she go back to being a run-of-the-mill lawyer while also being a 6’7” towering green lady? Umm….probably not. So meet the MCU’s first “Lawyer Show” which just also happens to have a Hulk in it, too.
Head writer Jessica Gao has long loved She-Hulk and has been working for years to get her into the MCU, even before the character was ready to join the MCU. Way back when, Gao actually pitched on Black Widow during its development stage, and put Jen Walters in the movie, too.
“I had She-Hulk in my Black Widow pitch and [Marvel] was like, ‘It kind of feels like you're trying to pitch a She-Hulk movie with Black Widow in it,’” Gao recalls with a laugh. “I was like, guilty! So big shocker, they didn't hire me for that. When I didn't get the job, I said, just so you know, She-Hulk is my favorite character, obviously. If you ever do a She-Hulk movie, you have to call me.”
Fast forward a few years and Gao, who’s background is in TV comedies, happened to catch word of what was happening at D23 Expo 2019. “[Marvel Studios President] Kevin [Feige] announces that not only are they doing a She-Hulk project, but it's going to be a TV series, my entire background is TV comedies! I was like, oh my god, they didn't call me!”
Thankfully, two days later her phone rang. “They called me and said, do you want to pitch on She-Hulk? And I said, yes, of course. Of course I want to pitch on She-Hulk.”
Right from the start, Gao had “a very clear sense of what type of show I wanted it to be…I knew the exact kind of comedic tone that I wanted for the show.” Half lawyer, half Hulk, all around hilarious. Because honestly, what isn’t funny about a Hulk trying to practice law for other Super Heroes?
Star Tatiana Maslany, who plays the titular She-Hulk, credits Gao with this balance of comedy-lawyer-and-MCU content, explaining, “The writing is the reason I wanted to do this show, because it was so smart and so funny and really not what I expected.”
“The MCU feels like this huge thing, but this was like we were talking about minutia, everyday stuff and weird questions about Captain America's sex life,” She continues. “That's how my brain works too, and so it was fun — it felt effortless to get into [Jen] and to relate to her.” Maslany also credits Gao’s love of She-Hulk and comics in general (hello, fourth wall breaks) for setting a perfect tone for the series.
“Jessica just really wanted to pay homage to the comics, which is sort of tear it all down, and really look at the mechanism in which She-Hulk is operating…I think that was the mischief underneath of the intention behind the show.”
However, even though She-Hulk is a Lawyer Show, it still needs to fit into the greater Marvel world. Director Kat Coiro was more than game to bridge these two very distinct ideas together into one show. “That was part of my responsibility, to visually keep it cinematic in scope and to make sure that we always balance the comedy with other elements that are an intrinsic part of the MCU.”
“There was so much talk about what was different [in the show] that part of my job was to keep the project within the world of the MCU,” she continues. “We obviously are exploring themes and we're exploring tone and we're exploring very everyday comedic moments, but we still need it to feel like it's part of the MCU.”
This huge scope also lends itself to a vast rotating door of Marvel characters, and Coiro adds that she’s excited for the “audience’s imagination” to fill in who viewers might see next.
“I think the idea that we are in this world where the superhuman law firm exists and any existing character from the MCU can organically come into the picture and it won't feel like a gratuitous cameo. It feels like, hey, even Super Heroes need legal help. I just love the possibilities of that, and we see a lot of them come through the doors of the law firm.”
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres is now streaming on Disney+.
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