So many superhero stories are wish-fulfillment tales – what if a nerd could fly, or a weedy-but-good-hearted man became super-strong? In the MCU’s next Disney+ series, though, we’re about to meet a character who never wanted anything to do with the realm of super-powers – and is more interested in fighting crime within the boundaries of the legal system. She-Hulk: Attorney At Law not only gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe its first proper courtroom drama (Daredevil doesn’t count… yet), but in Jennifer Walters it gets an especially reluctant hero. Played by Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin who becomes imbued with some of his hulking powers – turning her into a six-foot-plus green meanie. It’s not the sort of transformation most would wish for.
For Maslany, it was a chance to play a different kind of comic book character. “She really is the antithesis of most superhero narratives,” she tells Empire. Most notably, Walters is someone who really tries to run from her newfound abilities. “There’s this great element of denial in her that’s relatable. For me, it was about rejecting what’s happened for as long as I could, as that’s what causes the fun tension between Jennifer and She-Hulk.” That’s not the only tension here either, with her transformation also affecting her career as a high-flying lawyer – cue a pivot to taking on superhuman law cases. “She’s in a career that’s male-dominated and incredibly vicious and hierarchal,” Maslany explains. “When she’s heading this superhuman firm, that’s where we get some really fun characters that she’s either defending or in opposition of. It’s like this really absurd take on a legal show.”
Immersing herself in the MCU and She-Hulk in particular meant plenty of palling around with Mark Ruffalo (“We were so goofy, like two kids who had been handed shovels by our parents and told to go and play in the sandbox”), taking a deep-dive into the comics – and finding inspiration in cult musician Sophie. “I always come back to Sophie, who’s this amazing trans artist who unfortunately died last year,” she says. “What I love about Sophie’s music is this combo of organic and electrical, industrial-type sounds that felt connected to She-Hulk.” Stay tuned to find out if She-Hulk will be as much of a smash as her cousin.
Read Empire’s full She-Hulk: Attorney At Law story in the upcoming Avatar: The Way Of Water issue, on sale Thursday 7 July and available to pre-order online here. She-Hulk starts streaming on Disney+ from 17 August.