She-Hulk: Attorney At Law – Season 1 Episode 5

Sep 15, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“Mean, Green, and Straight Poured into These Jeans”

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law directly addresses the question of identity when Jennifer has to legally fight to use the She-Hulk name.

Exploring the concept of identity is a natural fit for a superhero story. Many origin stories deal with the hero acclimating to their powers and figuring out how to integrate them into their life. Having powers changes them and they have to figure out who they are following such a significant change. This show is well placed to add to that through questions of the legal entitlement to use the name originally coined by the media. Superheroes are a brand. They have a catchy name they’re known by, their costume is their image and their actions are under strict scrutiny from those who observe them. Comic stories have taken this idea further such as when Wilson Fisk registered Spider-Man as a trademark in Ultimate Spider-Man or Superman donating his share of the royalties gained through the use of his name and image to charity.


Patent not pending

This show turns the notion of branding and ownership into an episode plot when Titania (Jameela Jamil) registers the name She-Hulk as a trademark before suing her for misuse of that trademark. Jennifer has to fight for the legal right to be herself and questions who she is in the process. Early in the episode, she mentions that Jennifer Walters is who she is and She-Hulk is something that happened to her. It’s a simple separation of her two selves and likely a defence mechanism designed to disguise her true feelings about having a part of herself trademarked and taken from her. It’s as if she’s trying to reassure herself that nothing has been lost.

Reclaiming the name becomes urgent when losing it risks damaging the brand of the Superhuman Law division that was set up with the intent of She-Hulk being the face. That falls apart if the She-Hulk name legally belongs to someone else so Jennifer is forced to confront those issues of identity in both a legal and personal context. There is a slight shift in format for this episode as Jennifer is the client rather than the lawyer. Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry) steps in to represent her and the basis of her argument is that Jennifer was using the name She-Hulk prior to the trademark being registered so the name is connected to her regardless of who legally registered it.

It’s a simple argument but requires evidence to prove. A clip is shown of her denying the name but that was early on and the narrative has shifted since then. A counter is from her interview where she talks about the name sticking after being given it by the media. The interview clip shows acceptance and comfort with the name as well as ownership of a sort. It’s proof that Jennifer identifies as She-Hulk and that predates the trademark so there’s certainly something to work with.


Representing the off-brand

Not being a lawyer I have no idea how the legalities of this case work so I’m not in a position to comment on whether that by itself should be enough. I am, however, in a position to comment on character-driven storytelling and this episode uses the legal challenge as an excuse to have Jennifer explore her identity through the choices she made. More proof is required to prove that she has embraced the name so her She-Hulk dating profile becomes part of the conversation. Since she created the profile as She-Hulk the task becomes to prove whether those she went out with heard her identify as She-Hulk. This means dredging up her dates as witnesses and exposing her to the embarrassment of revisiting those experiences in order to win the case.

This is perfect fodder for comedy as Jennifer has mostly bad experiences on those dates so having them paraded in front of her in a public setting is inherently mortifying. Strangely, the episode doesn’t exploit this to its full potential. It’s mostly matter-of-fact about the dates taking place and Jennifer self-identifying as She-Hulk during them. She even gets a form of closure on the one that went well and ended badly for her in the form of an apology from the man who admits that Jennifer in her original body isn’t his type by She-Hulk is. It’s not easy to hear but it’s the truth and it’s something that she can understand. Regardless of what she might want there is a difference between the two personas as far as others are concerned and she will have to accept that because she isn’t in control of that.

One question the episode tackles to an extent is Jennifer’s comfort level with being She-Hulk. It’s clear she’s adjusting to it from her admission that she likes aspects of it such as the strength, hair and being able to walk home at night without being afraid. There are advantages to being She-Hulk and she is beginning to embrace them rather than seeing it as a curse that was forced on her. She didn’t have an ideal start as the transformation happened to her outwith her control and she is forced to embody She-Hulk in the workplace so that road to comfort is a long one. Accepting that the She-Hulk form is more desired than the Jennifer one will be difficult by itself and may hinder her from making a real connection with someone if her insecurity over her Human form is amplified by She-Hulk being far more desirable to others. It’s likely the conclusion of this arc will be her fully embracing being She-Hulk and seeing no difference between the two forms are both equally valid as far as Jennifer Walters is concerned. Jennifer Walters is who she is and She-Hulk is the brand but regardless of the form she takes she will likely be wholly confident in her own identity.


In a different chair

My review of the previous episode pointed out that the case of the week was far too complex for what this show wants to be. It brought up fascinating ideas that demanded more exploration than this show is prepared to deliver. This case works better because it’s far more simple and doesn’t have the same level of widespread implications. It’s a question of ownership and identity so it’s far more straightforward because the details are self-evident and personally connected to Jennifer. Despite the shallow coverage of Jennifer’s dates as She-Hulk, the episode does deliver on the questions of identity really well and subtly portrays Jennifer’s increasing comfort with being She-Hulk though for now, it’s at the expense of the Jennifer side of herself so there is work to be done.

The episode falters in the portrayal of Titania. She is a very shallow antagonist who exists to do nothing more than create the problem that needs to be solved. All of her lines are vitriolic and no attempt is made to develop her beyond what she exists to do in the episode. The focus is on the issue and how Jennifer connects to it but it’s a waste to have a character with clear potential reduced to nothing more than a bland antagonistic presence. She uses buzzwords in keeping with modern pop culture and projects an air of arrogance that is believable thanks to Jameela Jamil elevating the material she is given but no effort is made to explain why she would appropriate the She-Hulk name beyond the obvious bitterness following her defeat and subsequent legal troubles. It still isn’t known why she attacked the courthouse in the first place and no attempt is made to actually characterise her. This may come in later episodes but as far as this episode is concerned Titania could be anyone because she has absolutely no connection to the narrative at hand other than being the catalyst for it.

Titania could actually be a case study for an extreme example of what Jennifer could become if bereft of humility. All evidence points to Titania being defined by the brand with the real person being all but smothered by the public persona that has been created. She is referred to as an entity rather than a person with the suggestion that she is defined by the business she has created. If not careful then Jennifer could go down the same path and lose herself to the brand and idea of She-Hulk. This clearly isn’t something she’s interested in but the episode fails to explore why that is and what it means to be entirely consumed by a brand. It wouldn’t be specifically relevant to the case but some exploration of how Titania ended up like this might have been interesting from a characterisation point of ,view especially as a cautionary tale to Jennifer.


Victory drinks

Connecting to the identity theme in a subtle way is the search for clothing more in keeping with Jennifer’s size when she is She-Hulk. This allows for the episode to showcase Pug and Nikki’s engaging dynamic as well as elicit some genuine laughs with the introduction of off-brand Avengers merchandise. The plot addresses a common conversation that goes on among fans of superheroes around costuming. Some costumes are homemade -believably or otherwise- and some are supplied either by a generous benefactor or an employer. Either way, they are part of the brand and very important. This show reveals that there is someone who secretly specialises in tailoring for superheroes and agrees to put together clothing for Jennifer that accommodates both bodies. The clothing isn’t shown as the reveal is likely being saved for the next episode but there is definitely a market for this and the clientele is clearly very exclusive given the reluctance to do the work until being told that Jennifer is an Avenger and the Hulk’s cousin. The reveal of the Daredevil helmet in the closing moments shows that it’s a viable business with a variety of customers.

This connects to Jennifer’s search for a strong sense of identity as her clothes play an important part in that. She remarked in an earlier episode that it’s hard to find clothes for her Hulk form and Nikki takes this a step further by seeking out custom clothing for her. Jennifer is lacking comfort in her own skin and her clothing is a big part of that as she can’t find any that feels like it truly fits. Having something appropriately tailored will likely help with the confidence and comfort as the She-Hulk form will be less of an inconvenience if she can wear comfortable clothing. Whether it’s successful or not is left for the following episode so it’s a subplot with limited payoff but it does feed naturally into what the rest of the episode is saying about identity albeit in a more oblique way.


He’s coming


An engaging episode that tackles Jennifer’s identity arc in ways that make good use of the legal framework the show is built on and develops it naturally. Jennifer has to fight for the legal right to be herself and questions who she is in the process. She still sees the She-Hulk form as a hindrance though is starting to see the advantages that come with it. This is likely a step in the journey to full acceptance of who she is but at this point she still struggles with it. Parading the men she dated as She-Hulk is prime fodder for comedic embarrassment that the show fails to capitalise on. The point is to prove that she self-identified as She-Hulk prior to the trademark being filed and it accomplishes that but no more than that. Titania is a shallow antagonist with nothing beneath the surface and obvious potential to be a cautionary tale for Jennifer that isn’t utilised. The subplot detailing looking for clothing to match her stature as She-Hulk subtly connects to the search for identity with the implication that more appropriate and comfortable clothes with help with that self-acceptance. It also allows the episode to make use of the engaging Pug/Nikki dynamic. The clothing reveal is left for the next episode so it’s a subplot with limited payoff but it does feed naturally into what the rest of the episode is saying about identity albeit in a more oblique way.

  • 8/10
    Mean, Green, and Straight Poured into These Jeans" - 8/10


Kneel Before…

  • using the legal framework of the show to explore Jennifer’s identity arc in an interesting way
  • commentary on the idea of superheroes as a brand
  • Jennifer’s evolving comfort level with being She-Hulk
  • clear barriers for Jennifer to overcome before achieving self-acceptance
  • subtly feeding into the identity arc through the importance of clothing
  • the Pug/Nikki dynamic


Rise Against…

  • not exploiting the comedic potential of the dates being paraded in front of Jennifer
  • Titania being nothing more than a shallow antagonist used as a catalyst for the plot


What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

User Review
8.25/10 (2 votes)

We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box

If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.