Despite lackluster fan reaction, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is well on its way to wrapping up its first nine-episode run. While introducing audiences to Tatiana Maslany's Jennifer Walters, the show pays homage to much of the MCU that came before it, including references to the likes of Captain America, Tony Stark/Iron Man, and of course Bruce Banner himself, The Hulk.
The series wears its influences on its sleeves but is still a unique product, serving as the next step in the MCU story, while also being "the antithesis of most superhero narratives." It's a mix that has hit some, but not others.
However, it turns out that fans may have a beloved Marvel Studios classic to thank for the wild comedic mix She-Hulk.
Taking Inspo from Taika
In an appearance on the Friends From Work podcast, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law director Anu Valia revealed that she took inspiration from Taika Waititi and his work on Thor: Ragnarok for the Disney show.
Valia said that she "[looked] to what Taika Waititi did with Thor[: Ragnarok]" for her work on She-Hulk, praising Waititi's prowess in balancing "the comedic tone" and the "emotional crux" of the project.
"(laughs)… And it’s funny because, as a fan, you also… you wanna do service to the fans, but you also wanna create something new and not come from a place of fear… Just from a place of story… in a truthful and funny way. I feel like I was really… the comedic tone, balancing that and the emotional crux of the show, Jessica and Kat laid such a groundwork that I just built off of that. But I know personally, I was looking, I feel everybody feels this way, I was looking to what Taika Waititi did with Thor[: Ragnarok]… Like, he balanced that so well. I think that was maybe, out of the Marvel films, that was like the most forefront of my mind… Even the technical thing of like improvizing with a CGI character, that type of stuff. So personally, that movie was on my mind a lot. But I can’t say that I created the tone or anything, but it was sorta like building off.”
The director also addressed what drew her to the project, mentioning that she "grew up reading 'The Incredible Hulk' comics" and was a fan, noting that she had "watched not all of the movies, but a lot of them:"
“I was definitely a fan, you know, I was a fan, I watched not all of the movies, but a lot of them. I was watching the TV series, and I was definitely a fan. I grew up reading The Incredible Hulk comics… yeah, that was the one I read. My brother and I were obsessed with it. It was like that and Batman. Those were the two things that we read… I know, it’s DC. But you know what, it’s all good.”
Walking in the Steps of Ragnarok
When it comes to comedy in the MCU, there is probably no one better to follow in the footsteps of than Taika Waititi. He, along with James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, have helped to define what a straight comedy at Marvel Studios can look like.
It is interesting though that it wasn't the punchlines specifically that Valia calls out, it was that balance between the comedy and the more serious stuff.
That is something that Waititi has done so well in his time at the MCU. Sure, all of his projects wear their funny bone on their sleeves, but they are also not afraid to deal with some pretty heavy subject matter (i.e. the Jane Foster storyline in Love and Thunder).
This is a tightrope that She-Hulk has been trying to talk, offering up plenty of laugh-out-loud moments while also dealing with the pretty serious identity crisis that Jennifer Walters is facing with her newly acquired Hulk powers.
The first five episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are streaming now on Disney+.