If there’s one thing that can be said of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s this: women. Beginning with “Black Widow,” the women of the universe are taking the spotlight, leading us to the premiere of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” this Thursday. And for series star Tatiana Maslany, the female energy driving the show felt “revolutionary.”
The show, premiering exclusively on Disney+ Aug. 18, follows Jennifer Walters (Maslany), cousin to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). After an incident where they’re both injured, Jen herself turns into a Hulk, and has to figure out how to navigate her new life. Fortunately, it goes a bit smoother for her than it did for Bruce. Jen is almost immediately able to maintain her own consciousness in She-Hulk’s body, and quickly returns to her life as a lawyer. With the assistance of her best friend and paralegal Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga), Jen is mostly able to go back to normal.
Along with those leading ladies, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” is run behind the camera by director Kat Coiro (who most recently directed the Jennifer Lopez-starring rom-com “Marry Me”) and head writer and executive producer Jessica Gao. According to Maslany, there was definitely a “joyful feminine energy” fueling the story that felt exciting, given the MCU’s typical environment.
“I mean, the first day was Ginger Gonzaga and I in a corner booth at the bar, and she’s trying to teach me how to swipe date. And I’ve got a stack of work this high in front of me,” Maslany recalled to TheWrap. “It was all of these scenes about friendship, and these scenes about connection, and these scenes about what your friends do to draw you out and how you have ideas about who you are, and you struggle to push through those. So it’s all these very relatable things.”
Maslany continued: “It was with this joyful, feminine energy that we played in those spaces. And for me, I’ve always had a deeply internalized misogyny about femininity, you know? I have, just like our culture, looked at it in a certain way. And to be able to embody it in this character and to feel my own femininity and express it with this joy was just – it’s a wonderful gift. You know, it’s a bit of a boys club, the Marvel world, a little bit, so it feels kind of revolutionary to have it in there.”
For Gao, having women represented accurately and abundantly on “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” was always a focus in crafting the show, because “having so many different women really created a much fuller and real world.”
“I really strongly believe that the representation behind the camera has to match the representation in front of the camera. There are life experiences and very lived-in feelings that you can’t really replicate or fake, that you would just not have a knowledge of if you hadn’t experienced something of that level,” Gao explained.
In the premiere episode of “She-Hulk,” there’s a particularly raw moment for Jen, as she explains to her cousin why exactly she’s able to control her Hulk rage almost immediately. It’s because, as a woman, she’s always had to manage her rage in public, Hulk or not. That scene was one that Gao took extra seriously.
“We always want to be very real about these very female-centric themes and lived-in experiences, but it’s never coming from a place of trying to give a TED Talk on what it’s like to be women for men,” Gao said. “That’s never what this was. So that’s never the tone or the vibe of the show. It’s always for women to feel seen, and to feel like they can relate, and feel like they’re getting their little corner of the MCU that is going to tackle issues that are true to them.”
The first episode of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” premieres on Disney+ on Thursday, Aug. 18.