She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

Over the course of the weekend, Marvel fans have been processing the ending of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. In ways it was unexpected and, in others, it perfectly kept faith with She-Hulk’s adventures in the comics. Either way, it defied expectations and left many to confront what they wanted from the ending versus what Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) wanted and broke a streaming platform to get.

Yes, this particular case file may get a little meta.

Spoiler alert: The following contains details about the season 1 finale of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. If you have not watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers, stop reading here.

But before we start indulging in some of that meta-ness, let’s start with something truly concrete: that moment when Jen looks back at her empty apartment. It is a gut punch and, according to episode director Kat Coiro, something she had to fight for.

“Our schedule was very tight and it seemed like, ‘It’s an empty apartment, what’s the big deal?'” she explained. “We felt very adamantly that it was a huge key to showing how much she has lost. For anyone who’s ever had their own apartment and had a job to support that apartment and decorated it and felt really at home — and we get to see her really at home throughout the series — to strip that all away and leave the key on the window sill just feels heartbreaking.”

“It’s good when you stick up for something that seems so minor and then it does resonate,” she added.

Coiro and Maslany — along with head writer Jessica Gao and actor Jon Bass — spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about the finale, Jen’s decision to literally take control of the show, and just how easy it is to get into HulkKing’s mindset. They may have also offered a few thoughts on a potential second season.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

For Maslany, the ending — which saw Jen smashing through the Disney+ interface to solve her issues with the way the episode was unfolding — was “very unexpected,” but at the same time, she said, “When I read it, I was like, ‘This totally makes sense. Of course, we went this way.’ Yeah, it feels irreverent. It feels like it doesn’t fall into the pattern of the superhero shows that we’ve seen. It really does comment on them and try a different tack.”

Jen’s decision to make her way into the reality where the show’s writers and the mysterious story droid K.E.V.I.N. (a still-uncredited voice performance) reside is a very pointed (and funny) criticism of an emerging storytelling pattern we will call the “Marvel Method.” The term was previously used in comic book circles to describe the peculiar way Marvel Comics were written, but it serves pretty well here for the tendency of Marvel Studios productions to end with big brawls — often featuring a hero fighting a mirror of their own persona. Beyond that, Gao added that K.E.V.I.N.’s attempt to explain it away as a data-driven, algorithmically approved system also applies to the challenges in crafting stories within Hollywood.

Nevertheless, trying to push against this version of the Marvel Method is tough as it is, ultimately a powerful and successful storytelling force.

“I think with everything, you can spread your wings and try new things and color outside of the lines, but it doesn’t mean that all borders disappear and you’re always still bound by certain realities,” Gao said. “But it’s always fun and groundbreaking when you get to push past a couple of boundaries and get to wade around in new territory.”

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/Marvel Studios)

Of course, one of those boundaries is the heavier implication of the campaign Todd (Bass), aka HulkKing, orchestrated against Jen – something set aside in favor of She-Hulk‘s lighter and more meta approach.

“Even if it does deal with a lot of very real themes,” Gao said, “The show is for people who just want to have a good time, who just want to show up, watch something that’s just fun.”

Fun is the reverse of what Bass did to get into Todd’s mindset.

“It’s just so prevalent,” he said of the thought processes behind Todd’s attempts to assassinate Jen’s character and obtain her powers. And while not pleasant, he added, “It’s not like I have to do a swath of research in order to figure out how these guys work or what’s really behind it. It’s sort of all there. It’s sort of surface.”

More fun was the way Todd inverts a lot of the Marvel Method’s tropes regarding big bads. Although, he admitted to a little trepidation in playing a character who is both largely absent throughout the season and, perhaps, the most impotent of the villains featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.

“I don’t know if I would call it fear of how people are going to react to it, but there’s a little bit of fear of people being like, ‘You suck,'” he said. “But the good thing is Todd sucks. You know what I mean?”

Todd’s position as a sort of “non-big bad” also puts him on the list of things Jen is forced to deal with throughout the season.

“There’s so many points where she doesn’t have a choice in what happens to her, whether it’s becoming a Hulk, taking that job, [representing certain clients] … many moments where her choice is removed from the equation,” Maslany said. “For her, at the end, when her Hulkness is removed from her, that choice is taken away from her. She’s like, ‘No, no, wait. I’m going to actually choose to make this my story again. And I’m going to decide what happens.’ And I just love that.”

Coiro added that while “there are times she has actively controlled the narrative of her life,” the way she pushes pause on the spectacle happening around her halfway through the episode is “the first time she is taking control of the show, wrangled it away from the writers and going directly to the source.”

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law key art

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

The sequence of events embraces the more meta aspects of the characters. While a straight-forward Marvel hero when she debuted in 1980, she would claw her way out of her own comic book before the decade’s end to air her grievances with then-writer John Byrne. While it represented a curious relationship between the writer and the character being written, it also established that Jen is not only aware of her fictional nature, but her ability to directly confront those charting her life.

This proved irresistible to Gao and her writing team when breaking the season, who reshaped it into one of the most involved meta-gags in any television show or movie: Jen not only smashing through the Disney+ Marvel hub, but roaming the Walt Disney Studios in search of the writers (some of whom played themselves) and the Marvel offices to talk to K.E.V.I.N., himself charged with being the ultimate creative authority for the MCU (and, presumably, nearby variant realities along the Multiverse).

In realizing the sequence, Coiro brought Maslany to the Disney lot in Burbank, California, after making some attempts at recreating a portion of the historic property in Atlanta, where the rest of filming took place.

Related: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Case Files: What the Finale Reveals About What’s Next for Jennifer Walters

“When you have a character who’s dropping out of her show and into reality, you have to make reality real,” she explained. Beyond the verisimilitude of the Disney lot, Coiro and her production team also made some other tweaks to distinguish between the MCU and “K.E.V.I.N.’s world.”

“We changed the aspect ratio, we changed the shooting style,” she explained. And though the writers’ world is meant to be more real than MCU, there is one specific thing meant to be more Marvel within it: Jen’s fight with security.

“That was a direct homage to Black Widow beating up the security guards [in Iron Man 2],” Coiro said. “It was just another little, ‘Hey, if we’re going to go into Marvel world, let’s go fully into Marvel World.'”

And though K.E.V.I.N.  claims the glitch which allowed Jen to jump realities is fixed, Gao said, “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once that knowledge is there.” Despite the apparent patch to the Disney+ software, “it doesn’t change the fact that she has now interacted with K.E.V.I.N. She knows who he is and what he is, and she knows he is the source now. And so with that knowledge, I think comes a certain amount of power.”

in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law poster

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

But unlike Jen’s relationship to K.E.V.I.N. — or Byrne, for that matter — Gao believes she’s made a “ride-or-die” friend with She-Hulk.

“I hope that audiences watching feel this way about her too,” she added. “She’s our bestie.”

Maslany expressed a similar sentiment.

“I feel very close to her,” she said. “I’m so lucky that Jessica and my sense of humor is the same, and that she was so willing to take a risk on having me in this part because Jessica wrote such a beautiful script, and she’s got such a strong voice and such a strong connection to She-Hulk.”

Looking forward, Maslany is fairly certain Jen will not return to GLK/H.


(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

“I think the fact that she was picked only for her Hulkness is incongruent with who she is, which is a much more complicated person than just that,” she said. Nevertheless, she expects Jen will maintain friendships with Pug (Josh Segarra), and Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry) — to say nothing of her ride-or-die bestie, Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga).

“I think she would continue to be close to those people,” she said.

One option for Jen is to start her own firm. It has a precedent in the comics via a 12-issue run written by Charles Soule, which follows Jen’s legal adventures after GLK/H lets her go. As it happens, Soule worked as a consultant on the television series.

“He provided a lot of valuable legal consultation, especially, because he used to be a lawyer. And I think that’s one of the reasons why his run is so amazing,” Gao said.

Of course, there are other avenues for a potential second season to explore.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

“The She-Hulk comics go everywhere,” Maslany said. “They’re not always in the courtroom … [and] there all kinds of different places that She-Hulk exists.”

Back in the comics, Jen has done stints with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four (among other teams), leaned far more into the superhero aspect of her life, and pulled away from it to do more personal development. She’s even wandered a bit closer to being a mindless Hulk. That malleability excited Maslany to begin with — right down to noting how “she is just explored differently visually” by artists Javier Pulido and Ronald Wimberly in the Soule She-Hulk comics — and it is something she hopes to continue in subsequent appearances and, if it happens, another season.

“I want it to be surprising, and I want it to be as like, ‘Oh my God, they’re doing that!?’ as this season was,” she said.

79% She-Hulk: Attorney at Law: Season 1 (2022) is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

In an exclusive sneak peek at the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finale, Jennifer (Tatiana Maslany) and Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) map out Intelligencia’s connections. Nikki reports that the process of finding the players running the hate-speech site, including site administrator HulkKing, has hit one dead end after another. The site’s ownership is registered outside of US jurisdiction, which is annoying because Nikki wants to “find them and destroy them by any and all means,” but Jen, of course, wants to sue.

79% She-Hulk: Attorney at Law: Season 1 (2022) finale streams on Thursday, October 13 on Disney+.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.