Why She-Hulk's Low Stakes Sets It Apart From Other Marvel TV

As Marvel's eighth total series since leaving the confines of Netflix and network television in favor of the greener pastures of streaming, "She-Hulk: Attorney At Law" could very well have run the risk of feeling a little stale.

All of the major Disney+ shows to this point — "WandaVision," "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," and "Loki" among them — have generally followed the same old pattern established by the movies. Despite the appearance of playing around in different genres, the main focus always comes back to the familiar arena of heroes (and former villains) coming up against greater enemies, most of which pose significant or even universe-altering threats. Even the stories that opened up genuinely new corners of the universe, like "Moon Knight" and "Ms. Marvel," ultimately derived their stakes from gods and djinns who were hellbent on total destruction. Skeptical viewers would be well within their rights to question whether any real creative spark was on the horizon.

And then there's "She-Hulk," the Tatiana Maslany-starring series about a lawyer just trying to live her life despite such inconvenient powers. Simply by virtue of setting such relatively minor stakes, the series can't help but feel like a breath of fresh air compared to the endless fisticuffs and obligatory end-of-the-world schemes featured elsewhere. Admittedly, even this show hasn't been above some typical Marvel shortcomings like glaring stumbles in the early going or resorting to familiar franchise tricks like headline-grabbing cameos and Easter eggs galore.

However, its consistently relaxed tone and delightfully breezy stakes prove that it's never too late to shake up the formula.

Going big vs. staying small

Conventional blockbuster wisdom would seem to dictate that the bigger you go, the more viewers will care. Marvel has certainly embraced this philosophy on several occasions, which is why it's so refreshing that "She-Hulk" has thus far managed to zig when fans expect it to zag. In other words, how fitting is it that the show all about reconciling Jennifer Walters' comparatively small-stakes concerns with the (literally!) larger-than-life issues brought on by She-Hulk would handle this dynamic so well?

That's not to say that everyone will be on board with this approach, of course. Some viewers conditioned to a certain level of familiarity may have begun to feel a little antsy and put off by the fact that, as of the fifth installment of this nine-episode series, it would appear that "She-Hulk" has neglected to set up any major, overarching villainous plot. Setting aside the fact that this isn't entirely true on multiple fronts, it is clear that many may be struggling with the idea of a largely episodic storyline that emphasizes personal conflicts and obstacles at the expense of some grand, central antagonistic scheme.

Things may certainly change in the back half of this season, of course, but after the first several episodes have brought such humor and life to a universe that usually has no time for the human moments behinds its heroes ... would such a swerve really be for the best?

Lawyer show!

Jennifer Walters is a Marvel superhero whose biggest challenges so far have been reconnecting with her more famous cousin, navigating the minefield known as the modern dating scene, winning cases for her most difficult clients, and most recently fending off a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit while searching for Hulk-sized clothes. We'll gladly take four more episodes of these low stakes, please.

New episodes of "She-Hulk" stream on Disney+ every Thursday.