She-Hulk Is At Its Best When It Lets Jennifer And Bruce Hulk It Out

Considering the mainstream superhero content we are surrounded by today, we've grown accustomed to watching our favorite superpowered beings sacrifice everything (and often, everyone) they love for the greater good. They have one job — to save the world and its inhabitants. And in the rare occasion that they manage to lead dual lives, one always overwhelms the other out of existence. You know which is which.

"She-Hulk" is different. 

It differs from all the other Disney+ MCU shows that came before because it makes an active choice to let its titular character have fun. Jennifer Walters transforms into a gamma-powered six-foot-seven superhero after accidentally coming into contact with her cousin Bruce Banner's gamma-irradiated blood. It is an understatement to say that her life changes. She stops losing sleep over her six-figure student loan and starts worrying about controlling her rage. What's so different about this variation of the Hulk is that Jennifer retains her personality, conscience, and intelligence even in her superhero form. Her first instinct isn't "Hulk Smash!" She doesn't have an alter ego to battle with, and she might have a thing or two to teach her cousin, even though he has been Hulk-ing around for far longer. And that's when "She-Hulk" is at its strongest — when it chooses to let Jennifer and Bruce have a blast instead of immediately burying them under the weight of their superhero responsibilities. From navigating her city's dating scene to working on superhuman legal cases and throwing boulders with/at Bruce, "She-Hulk" is the most fun when it lets the Hulks Hulk out.

Spoilers for the first episode of "She-Hulk" follow.

Transforming into a Gamma-powered superhero is not easy

One day you're an attorney preparing your monologue for a career-defining case, another day, you become an accidental superhero. Jennifer Walters' transformation into She-Hulk occurs within the show's first few minutes. Her life is altered forever when she gets into an accident with her cousin after a Sakaarian spaceship of sorts makes a sudden appearance before her car. Jennifer and Bruce are both injured, and his inhibitor (a device that keeps him in human form) takes a hit. Bruce's blood unexpectedly mingles with his cousin's, causing her to immediately transform into She-Hulk, the MCU's newest female superhero.

There's a lot that happens in the first four episodes, but its premiere is easily the strongest episode yet. It's lighthearted, and it doesn't take itself seriously. It is bursting with MCU Easter eggs and references, and culminates with the cousins being heavily intoxicated, entertaining a discussion about Steve Rogers' virginity. "She-Hulk" is attempting to be the MCU's funniest show so far — and in many ways, it succeeds. The series feels refreshing for exploring an almost-goofy, unseen side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because of how it allows its superheroes to have a blast. You know it because you do too. The show (for now) is light on the action and heavy on Jennifer's life as an attorney of superhuman law; it can sometimes feel gimmicky with its many cameos. Its fourth-wall-breaking sequences and punchlines don't always land ... but the show's greatest strength lies in the unexpected, endearing dynamic shared by Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) and Jen as a family. And Hulks.

Superheroes have fun, too

Being a superhero is dangerous, sure, but it's also pretty rad. The reason why we've witnessed the former so often and the latter so rarely is because the MCU hasn't been plain bonkers for a long time (besides those in "Thor: Love and Thunder" and "Ms. Marvel," you'd think every other Phase 4 character has forgotten to laugh). Mainstream superhero content should be fun; it's one of the world's most successful entertainment mediums for a reason. And Marvel Studios is finally listening and not just turning a deaf ear to this requirement — it wants its heroes to have fun. "She-Hulk" is proof of it.

Somehow, "She-Hulk" is both — classic MCU and yet, nothing like it. It features cameo after cameo, and it name drops multiple Avengers. It asks hilarious but very important questions: Did Steve Rogers have a girlfriend before he went into service? Does Hawkeye walk around collecting his arrows after he's done shooting them? The show makes Bruce and Jennifer do the most outlandish things: eat Cheetos with chopsticks (an idea that I will be borrowing), indulge in a burping contest of sorts, practice (and fail at) dialectical behavioral therapy, work out, practice balancing stances and try out sunrise yoga, crack knuckles ... and get very, very drunk. The Hulks get competitive, throw boulders into the sky, and beat each other up.

A good time during a hard time

Jennifer's life has changed forever — she isn't just Jennifer Walters, attorney at law, anymore. She's adjusted to her new life pretty quickly and has accepted there will be times when she needs to step up as a superhero. The single most incredible thing about "She-Hulk" is that it has room for her to do both: enjoy the best and worst parts of being the Hulk. "She-Hulk" lets its hair down and is so brave, so unafraid to let loose, shattering most already-existing perceptions about it. Tatiana Maslany shines as Jennifer Walters, and her chemistry with Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner is one of the strongest Avenger pairings we've seen yet.

Jennifer Walters might eventually have to find her way, a balance between her two very different lives. But that's for later. The series isn't rushing her to make a decision or to choose a side. In its own way, "She-Hulk" contains a sweet message that we simply cannot overlook — we don't always have to see superheroes saving the world. Watching them being competitive and debating over who can throw a boulder further away than the other is good enough.

"She-Hulk" is now streaming on Disney+