Marvel’s presence at Comic-Con in San Diego ramped up on Saturday with an incredible lineup of new reveals and first looks. Nestled among them was yet another look at the next show from the Phase 4 lineup: She-Hulk: Lawyer. Billed as the MCU’s first 30-minute legal comedy, the series stars Tatiana Maslany as the titular lawyer-turned-superhero Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk.
While much attention was (rightly) given to Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil surprise appearance at the end of the trailer, another standout feature was the much improved CGI of the She-Hulk form. from Jen.
The first trailer drew quite a bit of flak for its main character’s odd appearance, but it looks like Marvel has since been doing a series of cleanups in the run up to the show’s release. While that’s expected of any big project, it was certainly refreshing to see evidence of it in the new trailer.
On the floor of SDCC, both director and creator of She-Hulk were asked about the unique challenge of bringing such a CGI-heavy character to life.
The unprecedented visuals of She-Hulk
In a video posted on IGN’s YouTube channel, She-Hulk director Kat Coiro and creator/head writer/executive producer Jessica Gao talked about how they approached adding Jen to the MCU.
Coiro noted that “One of the coolest things about working with Marvel is that you get to try every tool out there.” When it came to achieving their goal of capturing the “the honesty of the actors”, the manager said that “It didn’t even feel like a challenge at the end of the day.”
Jessica Gao spoke a little more candidly about the process and called the creation of the show “unprecedented:”
“It was unprecedented, you know, because [Marvel has] never did a TV show where the main character is completely CG when she’s the main character.”
Gao added that the team “really didn’t have a plan” when it was first about writing the CGI-heavy character with the visual constraints in mind, and instead worked to design a story that felt authentic and let the designers understand things around her.
“…When we started, we really didn’t have a plan or how we were going to do it. We just knew we were going to do it and I just thought, ‘Look, this is Marvel, they know what they’re doing, they’re gonna find out. I’m just gonna let them. I’m just gonna write my little scripts.”
The resulting process involved many “trial and error” and there was “lots of growing pains” along the way. Gao concluded by expressing regret over how the process went, noting that in hindsight, “If we were to do it again, we’d probably think long and hard about how often we want a CG character on screen, but it all worked out.”
Will She-Hulk’s “Growing Pains” CGI Hurt the Series?
Despite Coiro’s assertion that the production She-Hulk wasn’t a challenge, it’s clear from Gao’s statements that it was understandably quite difficult to create a show that involved so much CGI. While it’s certainly not uncommon to see purely CG characters in MCU films, putting one as the titular character in a TV series is an entirely different ballgame. The odd nature of Jen’s appearance in the series’ first trailer is proof of that.
With the release of the new trailer, it seems fair to say that it all really worked out, as Gao claimed. Jen’s She-Hulk form looks a lot more natural and fits quite well alongside Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, who has appeared in MCU films since. The Avengers a decade ago. To accomplish this on a budget worthy of a 30-minute comedy TV show for a streaming service is quite a remarkable feat.
If the show proves to be a success, it will mark an important step in the development of Marvel’s projects on Disney+. If the She-Hulk the bet pays off, the doors may be open for the studio to dive into other mostly CGI characters on the platform or to give them more screen time in movies. Marvel has always been at the forefront of innovation in this area, and it stands to reason that they’ll continue to push the boundaries as the universe expands.
While people will certainly talk about the quality of the writing and all the thrilling cameos the series has in store, She-Hulk will likely be made or broken by how the team brings the main character to life. If fans can’t get past a weird lawyer, they might not continue to tune in just to see Daredevil or potential mutant references.
She-Hulk: Lawyer is ready to break down barriers (and the fourth wall) when its first episode drops August 17, only on Disney+.