She-Hulk is about to smash her cousin out of the spotlight in Marvel’s new Disney+ show, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. The half-hour live-action TV comedy is a first for the MCU and will follow Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), a lawyer by day who receives a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and goes on a journey to establish herself as the new queen of green.
Lifehacker Australia spoke with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law head writer Jessica Gao about She-Hulk’s unique tone, what fans can expect from Daredevil’s return and why the series changed its name.
Gao said it was John Byrne’s comic book run of She-Hulk that caught her attention thanks to its “fun and lighthearted” energy.
“It had this levity to it and also was just silly and didn’t take itself too seriously. I loved that it was really meta and I loved that she was super self-aware. She knew that she was in a comic. That just felt so new and different,” she said.
It was this combination of factors that Gao said made She-Hulk the perfect character for the MCU’s first half-hour TV comedy.
“She would argue with Byrne [in the comics], she would argue with the editor and she would also make fun of comic book tropes. So to me, that is the iconic essential She-Hulk and so, of course, that naturally lends itself to half-hour comedies,” Gao explained.
That same comic book tone is being carried over in She-Hulk’s screen debut with Walters often breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly.
The series also uses comedy to represent some of the issues modern-day women are facing, such as online dating and being a high-profile successful woman.
A writing staff that was majority women helped Gao achieve a well-rounded female perspective in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
“We all had these experiences, everyone had a different perspective and point of view and we just mined each other’s lives. A lot of the time it was just a lot of discussions about what it’s like being a woman and what it would be like to be a woman who is a superhero and in the public eye,” she said.
“You started seeing a lot of commonalities and a lot of themes emerge and those were the things we really infused into the show.”
In terms of timeline, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law takes place after Avengers: Endgame. But while the five-year blip is something that is referenced in the show, Gao said it was a “conscious and specific decision” not to make it a big deal.
“So many shows and movies in the MCU have already kind of covered that and, you know, it’s been talked about a lot that it just felt like, ok so many people have already covered that territory that we’ve accepted it. We live in a world where that’s already happened and people have already moved on,” she explained.
Despite She-Hulk: Attorney at Law very much being Jennifer Walter’s show, a lot of attention has been drawn to the anticipated return of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, which was confirmed in a trailer released at San Diego Comic-Con.
This will be Matt Murdock’s second appearance in the MCU after a brief cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Given the fact that Cox initially portrayed Daredevil in a Netflix show, there’s still some doubt as to whether that timeline is considered canon in the MCU.
Gao said that when it came to using the character in She-Hulk, the executives at Marvel didn’t have any specific rules.
“Usually how they do it is they kind of let us propose what we want to do rather than give us guidelines. When they first told us that [Daredevil] was a possibility we just couldn’t believe it. And as we were coming up with story and what we wanted him to do, the fact that they kept not saying no was shocking to us,” she said.
That being said, Marvel did have one non-negotiable when it came to Daredevil.
“The one thing that I didn’t have control of was the suit. They knew exactly what they wanted the suit to look like.”
Daredevil is just one of many recognisable characters appearing in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, which includes Marvel legends like Wong (Benedict Wong) and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner. However, Gao had a word of warning for fans that are hoping the series will continue the Disney+ tradition of including massive cameos in the final episodes, such as Jonathan Majors in Loki or Vincent D’Onofrio in Hawkeye.
“Do not set yourself up with big expectations to be disappointed,” she cautioned.
For the many faces She-Hulk does employ, Gao said audiences can expect to see a “different side” of these beloved characters.
“Because we have a very specific tone we’re able to pull these characters like Daredevil, like Abomination, like Wong who normally you’ve seen in very dramatic, very heavy, very serious projects, and bringing them into our world and letting them kind of play around in She-Hulk’s tone, so that it’s not completely changing the character but you do get to see a different side of them,” Gao said.
“You get to see a lighter side of them and part of that is because the universe isn’t in danger, it’s just a regular day for them, it’s a normal day. So you kind of get to see these people when they’re not worried about saving all humanity, they get to just deal with everyday stuff. It’s kind of like they get to take a comedy vacation in our show and then they can go back and do their serious stuff again.”
Another thing that surprised audiences earlier in the year was a name change for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
While the series had originally been titled simply She-Hulk after its lead character, it later received a name and logo shift to become She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Gao shared that it was a throwaway comment by Kevin Feige that lead to the new name.
“We always had the line in the show where Bruce says ‘She-Hulk attorney at law, it’s got a nice ring to it’. And one day we were watching cuts and when it got to that scene Kevin just said ‘that’s a great title for a show, that should be the title of the show’. And that’s it,” she said.
“You know when the golden tongue of Kevin Feige speaks then it becomes canon and that’s really how it happened.”
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres on Disney+ on August 18.