Marvel's presence at San Diego Comic-Con went into overdrive on Saturday with an incredible array of new reveals and first looks. Nestled among them was yet another look at the next show in the Phase 4 lineup: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Being billed as the MCU's first 30-minute legal comedy, the show stars Tatiana Maslany as lawyer-turned-titular-superhero Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk.
While a lot of attention is being paid (deservedly) to the surprise appearance of Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock/Daredevil at the end of the trailer, another standout feature was the markedly improved CGI of Jen's She-Hulk form.
The first trailer caught a fair bit of flak for the uncanny appearance of its title character, but it seems Marvel has since performed a round of clean-up as the show nears release. While this is to be expected of any big project, it was certainly refreshing to see proof of it in the new trailer.
On the floor at SDCC, both the director and creator of She-Hulk were asked about the unique challenge of bringing to life such a CGI-heavy character.
She-Hulk's Unprecedented Visuals
In a video posted to the IGN YouTube channel, She-Hulk director Kat Coiro and creator/head writer/executive producer Jessica Gao spoke on how they approached adding Jen to the MCU.
Coiro noted that "one of the coolest things about working with Marvel is that you get to try every tool that is out there." When it came to achieving their goal of capturing the "actors' honest performance," the director said that "it didn't even feel like a challenge at the end of the day."
Jessica Gao spoke a bit more candidly about the process and called the creation of the show "unprecedented:"
"This was unprecedented, you know, because [Marvel has] never made a TV show where the lead character is completely CG when she's the title character."
Gao added that the team "really didn't have a plan" when it first came to writing the CGI-heavy character with the visual restraints in mind, and instead worked to design a story that was authentic and let the designers figure things out around it.
"...When we first started, we really didn't have a plan or know how we were gonna do it. We just knew we were gonna do it and I just figured 'Look, it's Marvel, they know what they're doing, they're gonna figure it out. I'll just let them do it. I'll just write my little scripts.'"
The resulting process involved a lot of "trial and error" and there were "a lot of growing pains" along the way. Gao closed by expressing regret over how the process transpired, remarking that in hindsight, "if we had to do it again, we'd probably think long and hard about how often we want a CG character on screen, but it all worked out."
Will She-Hulk's CGI 'Growing Pains' Hurt the Show?
Despite Coiro's claim that producing She-Hulk wasn't a challenge, it's clear from Gao's statements that it was understandably rather difficult to create a show that involved so much CGI. While it's certainly not uncommon to see purely CG characters in MCU films, putting one as the titular character of a TV series is an entirely different ball game. The uncanny nature of Jen's appearance in the show's first trailer is a testament to that fact.
With the release of the new trailer, it seems fair to say that it really did all work out as Gao claimed. Jen's She-Hulk form looks much more natural and fits in quite well alongside Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, who has appeared in MCU films since The Avengers a decade ago. To have accomplished that on a budget befitting a 30-minute TV comedy for a streaming service is a pretty remarkable feat.
If the show proves to be a success, it will mark an important milestone in the development of Marvel's projects on Disney+. If the She-Hulk gamble does pay off, the doors may be opened for the studio to delve into other primarily CGI characters on the platform or to give them more screen time in films. Marvel has always been on the cutting edge of innovation in this field, and it stands to reason they're going to continue to push the boundaries as the universe expands.
While people will certainly be talking about the quality of the writing and any exciting cameos the show has in store, She-Hulk will likely be made or broken by how well the team brings the lead character to life. If fans can't get past an uncanny attorney, they may not keep tuning in just to see Daredevil or potential references to mutants.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is ready to break barriers (and the fourth wall) when its first episode debuts on August 17, only on Disney+.