More than a year since the debut of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law the Marvel Studios legal comedy is still the subject of much debate. Some fans adored the meta humor about the fans and the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. Others found it too oblique for their tastes, or they saw a bit too much of themselves in the series’ villains. In 2024, there’s been discussion about whether Jennifer Walters will return for Season 2, but there might be a more budget-conscious way to bring She-Hulk back.
The conversation around Marvel’s first superhero attorney started when lead actor Tatiana Maslany said Season 2 likely wasn’t happening. “I don’t think [She-Hulk: Attorney at Law] is coming back. I think we blew our budget, and Disney was like, ‘No thanks,'” she said on a Twitch stream. However, Disney’s public relations machine went to work and commented on background to other outlets, saying She-Hulk Season 2 may still happen. As with all things streaming, if fans of Shulkie stream the series repeatedly, Disney brass will realize there is a demand for more. Yet, like with all of Marvel Studios’ projects, the concerns aren’t really about reception but rather the cost. Perhaps instead of a second season, Marvel Studios specials are the answer.
Modern audiences have been served well when it comes to quality visual effects in both film and television productions. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was a nine-episode series with each installment running about a half hour. Yet, there were multiple fully computer-generated characters in episodes and sometimes in scenes together. Some episodes also featured the central character in She-Hulk form more than her human one. Thus, when Marvel VFX insiders say the budget was more than $25 million per episode, it’s easy to believe.
$25 million per episode is quite a lot for a television series, even though — with 137.7 million subscribers in 2022 — it represented a quarter of the monthly revenue for Disney+ while it was streaming. Still, overinflated budgets are a big problem across television and film, especially with how VFX-heavy MCU projects are. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is unique and if it was airing in 2024 instead of 2022, the finale’s message about how messy Marvel endings are with big CGI-infused battles might hit differently with audience members.
This was not to decry the miracles that digital VFX make happen on-screen, either. After all, She-Hulk was a fully computer-generated character. Bringing her to life that way was the only way it could’ve worked, especially over a series. Yet, perhaps the best way to keep both She-Hulk and Tatiana Maslany in the MCU loop during this time is to abandon the idea of a multi-episode series. Instead, a series of specials could keep Jennifer Walters’s brand of humor in the mix while also creating more connective tissue for the disparate stories in the era of the Marvel multiverse.
One thing comic book fans often complain about in the modern era of superhero films aplenty is how they deviate from the source material. This is the natural progression of adaptations, especially when the source material is decades old. Stories, characters and concepts that worked in the pages of comics in the 1980s may not play as well in live-action at the end of the first quarter of the 21st Century. Part of the reason these characters have persisted for more than 50 (or in the case of DC Comics, 80-plus) years is because they evolve with their audiences. Today, even the casual moviegoer is more well-versed in the high-concept sci-fi that makes up superhero stories.
The Sensational She-Hulk from the 1980s is a prime example. The story and character elements John Byrne mined for humor wouldn’t work for today’s audiences. Yet, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is perhaps one of the most spiritually honest adaptations of any Marvel project. From the fourth-wall breaking humor to the in-narrative critique of the genre’s tropes were all present in the show. Jennifer Walters famously said in one episode that superheroes were all “billionaires, narcissists and adult orphans,” which is a spot-on critique.