She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, the latest offering from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), is about to hit Disney+ Hotstar Premium on August 18. The show sees Jennifer Walters (cousin to Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk) transform into the She-Hulk and navigate her newfound role as a superhero while simultaneously attempting to focus on her budding legal career. Having watched the first four episodes, I can say that She-Hulk is well… different. It has its own narrative and episodic style, unlike the rest of the MCU. Creator and head writer Jessica Gao spoke about her inspirations, pitching the show to Marvel and how the writing team figured out which cameos to include.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a very different show from what we've seen in the MCU so far, and I know you've spoken about Fleabag as one of your influences. Tell me more?
So when I pitched the show to Marvel, there were two other shows I used as reference points. One was, of course, Fleabag. That's such a wonderful show about a woman that is so real and raw. And there's the fourth-wall-breaking aspect too. In Fleabag, that was such a wonderful way to bring the audience into the internal side of the lead character – the parts that she didn't want to reveal to her world.
The other show that was a touchpoint was Better Call Saul, just because it's such a wonderful blend of drama and comedy and also the courtroom. So much interesting stuff happening outside of the courtroom as well. Those were the two shows I referenced in my pitch for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Talking about the fourth wall, how easy or difficult was it to convince Kevin Feige and everyone else at Marvel to let Jennifer Walters break the main MCU fourth wall before Deadpool does?
Well, the nice thing is that everyone is familiar with the comics and so everyone knew that Jennifer did it before Deadpool. I've said it once and I'll keep saying it till my dying day. To me, the John Burn run of the She-Hulk comics is the most iconic. That's why I consider her breaking the fourth wall an essential part of who she is, and foundational to her character. To me, there is no version of She-Hulk that doesn't break the fourth wall and Marvel was very supportive of this from the very beginning.
I also want to talk about the equation Bruce and Jennifer share. How did it go about creating that?
Oh, it was so great because I love writing family dynamics – that's probably my wheelhouse, if I had to pick one. It's so much fun writing these two cousins, because they are in this very unique position of having two Hulks in the same family. It's already so rare to have one person become a Hulk, to have two in the same family is just random and silly. However, at the end of the day, they are still cousins who have probably spent every family reunion together and most holidays together their entire lives.
What's wonderful about Tatiana Maslany and Mark Ruffalo is that from day one, they had this amazing chemistry. They instantly clicked and when you watch them, you totally believe that these two people are cousins. You'll believe that they've seen each other at their best and worst, they know what buttons to push, have their inside jokes and know each other's secrets.
Let's talk about all the cameos! You have a wide bunch of characters from all corners of the MCU coming into the show – how did you manage this balancing act?
The great thing about having a show that's a legal comedy is there's an in-built structure that lets you bring in all different kinds of people and characters for one or two episodes. We had so much fun in the writer's room because of that. We went through all the movies and the comics, and pulled out the characters we really wanted to use. And then we had the fun task of saying, 'What is a funny reason for them to be in legal trouble?' Why would they be in a courtroom? Why would they be at a trial? It was so much fun to do that exercise.