Thursday, August 25, 2022

REVIEW: 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law' - A New Job Requires Jen to Embrace Being a Lawyer With Heroic Abilities in 'Superhuman Law'

Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law - Episode 1.02 "Superhuman Law"

Jen is hired at a prestigious law firm but must practice as She-Hulk and rep a complicated client.

"Superhuman Law" was written by Jessica Gao and directed by Kat Coiro

When Titania stormed into the courtroom, Jen did the right thing by protecting the people in there. That had the unfortunate consequence of destroying her case. She was about to give her closing argument. Instead, a mistrial was declared because the jury would be biased towards the woman who just saved their lives. The opposing counsel was thrilled over this development because they knew they were going to lose. Jen is ultimately the person who loses everything she wants. She doesn't want to be a superhero. She wants to be a lawyer. Bruce told her she had to accept these abilities because her life would immediately change as a result of having them. She refused to believe that was inevitable. She could keep her transformation under control and maintain her normal life. Circumstances required her to emerge as She-Hulk. Now, she hates that name. It's derivative and unimaginative. The world only wishes to view her as the female version of a superhero they already know and love. Of course, it also serves as an extension of Bruce's world that has never been accessible before. That has been a crucial element of this narrative as well. The focus isn't directly on Bruce and how he continues to develop. This is very much Jen's journey of discovery as a hero. And yet, the consequences are still profound throughout this universe. Jen has practical questions about what it means to be an Avenger. She doesn't aspire to join the team like so many in this world do. She doesn't know if they get paid for their work or are even offered health insurance. She has student loans hanging over her head. And now, no one is willing to hire her because she presents as a liability. She did the right thing. The world needed She-Hulk in that moment. That was still costly for the District Attorney's office with the case now being extended. The public has a right to speedy justice. Jen's efforts are appreciated. Her visibility in public service can be a detriment. And so, she's fired and can't find a business willing to hire her. Even when a job presents itself, it's offered to She-Hulk not Jennifer Walters. That's not the identity Jen is confident operating in. Of course, the world thinks it's cool. She can move between these identities with relative ease. She doesn't have to suffer many consequences as a result of that transition. She's also being handed a job solely for the publicity of having a superhero leading up a newly formed superhero law division. Sure, that introduces many fascinating legal concepts into this world. This is a universe where a lot of chaos and destruction has happened. No one can feel safe for very long before some new threat emerges. And yet, it's all intended to play out in the same criminal justice system that has dominated American governance for centuries. It's not perfect. Superheroes have been around long enough for the system to adapt. It's still imperfect with opinions being even more heightened given the threats involved.

Jen's first case for her new job is managing the parole hearing for Emil Blonsky. Her family has a personal history with the villain. The Hulk and Abomination once fought. However, that was over 15 years ago. That's no longer a priority for Bruce. The world has changed so much for him since those early days of being the Hulk. He has transformed in more ways than one. He has traveled to alien planets. In fact, he's journeying back to space. Of course, that's a curious detail given he makes the voyage in an alien ship that resembles the one that caused the accident and exposed Jen to these powers. The viewer shouldn't be comfortable in accepting these details. This extended universe requires the audience to always be questioning what's happening. At the moment, Bruce and Jen are destined to follow different paths. That was already laid out in the premiere as Jen quickly controlled her abilities while recognizing she didn't want to be idolized as a hero like her cousin. The world still sees her as such. The priority for her is the law. She wants to maintain her world. It's difficult because she is expected to be She-Hulk at work. She can't visit Blonsky in that state though. She is tentative about taking this case. She listens to his appeal and believes she can present a solid case on his behalf. It's something she wants to do. She has made that decision before she checks with Bruce. She takes control over her narrative. She is aware of how her actions affect the people she loves. She also deserves the agency to find her own place in this world. Nothing is ever quite as simple as that though. Blonsky presents as someone truly remorseful for his actions. He's also an innocent victim of the government's experimentations. Bruce already shared the necessity of keeping the science behind the Hulk abilities a secret. It can't fall into the wrong hands. That would only create more chaos and destruction. Blonsky serves as evidence of those past exploits. He's been held accountable. He wasn't solely responsible. He still deserved some form of punishment. Jen can recognize his humanity while balancing all of those conflicting ideas. Again, that's easier to do because both are in their human forms. It's required at the prison. The visibility in the outside world is more complicated though. It's good that Jen is She-Hulk. The world lifts her up as such. The world needs to believe in her inherent goodness. Meanwhile, Abomination is a monster who continues to exist as such. Jen can't hide from that fact. Those opinions are already set. Her new client may be complicit in this deception or he could be yet another victim to the heinous ways the world treats the incarcerated. All of that is left for Jen to explore, with the audience along for the ride as her confidant when she breaks the fourth wall seeking someone to co-sign on the craziness of what life has become.