Monday, September 19, 2022

REVIEW: 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law' - Jen Fights for the She-Hulk Moniker in 'Mean, Green, and Straight Poured Into These Jeans'

Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law - Episode 1.05 "Mean, Green, and Straight Poured Into These Jeans"

She-Hulk discovers Titania owns the name "She-Hulk" and is suing her for trademark infringement.

"Mean, Green, and Straight Poured Into These Jeans" was written by Dana Schwartz and directed by Anu Valia

Jen has been conflicted about her identity from the moment an accident turned her into a Hulk. Holden Holliway expects her to balance every aspect of her life before it compromises the firm in some way. Jen never thought about trademarking the name "She-Hulk." It was a moniker given to her by the media. It's the only one she has actually used. She thought it was derivative in the beginning. It has grown on her. She associates with it now. That's a step towards acceptance. She fights for the right to the name. It is under attack. It's not some elaborate action sequence that dominates so many of the conflicts in the Marvel universe. Instead, it all plays out in the courtroom. That's the environment Jen feels the most powerful in. She's still insecure. People are constantly pointing out her flaws. She has more opportunities now because She-Hulk presents as an alluring figure. People want to know this person who stands out amongst humanity. Very few are willing to stick around and see the woman behind it all. Jen wants that duality. She wants to spend life equally as Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk. She doesn't have to choose one over the other. The world wants her to be a hero. She could join the Avengers and save the world from existential threats. That's not the life she wants. She wants to make a difference within the criminal justice system. That pursuit of justice can be just as valid. It's not all that exciting to a population that has grown accustomed to how heroes are now quantified. To them, it's about the physical displays of prowess. People were so eager to support She-Hulk when it came to defeating Titania once she crashed into the room. Hardly no one is there when the law could take this identity away. Titania is once again at the forefront of the conflict. She positions herself as the enemy who needs to defeat She-Hulk. She failed to do so in her first endeavor. She comes up short once again. This time she goes to Jen's playing field. It's all about using the law to make Jen suffer. Titania can trademark "She-Hulk" and make a ton of money from exploiting it. It all seemingly happens overnight. Titania has that kind of empire. It may be completely empty. Her products don't actually do anything. She is desirable. People want whatever she is selling. Meanwhile, She-Hulk is the frumpy lawyer who doesn't know who she is. She's gullible. She didn't think to pursue sensible endeavors to ensure this new identity could withstand all that pop culture could throw at her. Bootleggers prey on slightly discounted versions of famous visuals. With She-Hulk, the name and her likeness are used for profit. It doesn't last. Mallory prevails. That too showcases how shallow Titania is with her pursuits. All of this can be neatly resolved. It still creates uncertainty for Jen.

In order to prove her personal attachment to She-Hulk, Jen must put a line-up of failed suitors on the stand to talk about what they hoped for by getting to date She-Hulk. It's a novel strategy. It's a way for Jen to showcase to the public how much she has come to accept this name. It's also incredibly humiliating. It's what must be done in order to win the case. Mallory respects that. She knows no one else in the office would have the strength to endure that kind of public shaming. Jen lives in the spotlight. These details will be noticed. It's all about winning the case. It still stings. She has value outside of being a superhero. Being She-Hulk doesn't have to be the most interesting thing about her. People should want to get to know her beyond seeing her fighting with demons. She wants her skills in the courtroom to be acknowledged just as much. She has found a way to navigate what her job requires of her. She is comfortable being She-Hulk throughout the building. That's how she has to present herself in order to be desirable. She exists as a much more nuanced character than that though. In fact, this episode is a huge advancement in helping the show establish its own identity. Previously, so much was determined by the cameos from characters elsewhere in this universe. It made it seem like She-Hulk was a supporting character in her own show. She wasn't the attraction that lured everyone in. Instead, it was about Wong suing people abusing their access to the Mystic Arts or Emil Blonsky being released on parole. Jen has been integral to those storylines. However, her personal stories were very much on the sidelines. That also didn't leave enough time for the show to flesh out its own cast of supporting characters. Nikki and Pug still frequently come across as people who are enthusiastic about what Jen can do as She-Hulk. Their lives exist in service to helping her succeed. That's a consequence of simply having little time for anything else. Meanwhile, Mallory only made a brief cameo in a previous episode. This is her first big spotlight. She wants to treat Jen as another ordinary client. She ends up respecting her colleague. They form a bond over acknowledging the treatment they endure simply by being women in this profession. It's the start of a relationship of trust. Obviously, Jen reads too much into it. That, in turn, sends Mallory away. Jen is still growing. She's finding her place in this world. She doesn't have it all figured out. She's still professional enough to know how to make a difference. She is doing it according to her own terms. Of course, the show is much more interested in teasing future cameos than providing satisfaction to what's unique in Jen's personal exploits. The episode talked up Jen's new wardrobe only to withhold the ultimate reveal in service to a tease for who else Luke has designed a super-suit.