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First, director Kat Coiro responded to those who have chided the show for not making star Tatiana Maslany’s green alter ego even bulkier.
“In terms of the CGI being critiqued, I think that has to do with our culture’s belief in its ownership of women’s bodies,” Coiro said at the show’s Television Critics Association press tour panel Wednesday. “I think a lot of the critique comes from feeling like they’re able to tear apart the CGI woman. There’s a lot of talk about her body type, and we based it on Olympian athletes and not bodybuilders. But I think if we had gone the other way, we would be facing the same critique. I think it’s very hard to win when you make women’s bodies.”
The team also responded to a question about how VFX artists have accused Marvel of overwhelming their companies with demands that cause them to work an unsustainable number of hours, resulting in second-rate visual effects and mistreated staff.
“This is a massive undertaking to have a show where the main character is CG,” head writer Jessica Gao said. “It’s terrible that a lot of artists feel rushed and feel that the workload is too massive. I think everybody on this panel stands in solidarity with all workers.”
“We stand in solidarity with what they say the truth is,” Coiro added. “We work with them, but we’re not behind the scenes on these long nights and days. If they’re feeling pressure, we stand with them and we listen to them.”
“I feel incredibly deferential to how talented these artists are and how quickly they have to work,” Maslany says. “Obviously, much [less time] than probably should be given to them in terms of like, churning these things out. We have to be super-conscious of the work conditions, which aren’t always optimal.”
The team also said the show’s fourth-wall-breaking — with Jen/She-Hulk talking directly to the camera — will be “not overpowering” as the series goes on. “It was tricky finding the balance because if I had my way, she’d be breaking the fourth wall every other sentence,” Gao said. “Everybody had to pull me back a little bit more from it.”
“She-Hulk was breaking the fourth wall way before Deadpool and way before Fleabag,” added Coiro. “Back in the comics, she was always very meta and she was always kind of taking control of her story and her narrative.”
Otherwise, Maslany expressed her excitement for the character, which follows Jennifer Walters as “she navigates the complicated life of a single, 30-something attorney who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7 superpowered hulk.”
“Jen has had her life planned out for her and has worked really hard to get to where she is as a lawyer, and to have this thing happen to her that sort of derails everything,” Maslany said. “It is a bit of an identity crisis. And what I find really compelling about the story is when she’s She-Hulk she’s treated very differently than when she’s Jen. There’s a lot of having to affirm her intelligence when she’s Jen and assert her role and trying to get respect, whereas when she’s She-Hulk there’s this inherent sort of awe inspired by her that’s at odds with how she wants to be perceived. … Her anger, her largeness, her taking up space in a room, is all fertile ground for us to play with, flip the standard on its head so you can laugh at it. … We’re so fixated on women’s bodies, whether it’s aesthetically or politically or in terms of rights or in terms of autonomy, I think what we do in this show is in touch with all of these concepts.”
The nine-episode series co-stars MCU veterans Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky and Benedict Wong as Wong. Also in the cast are Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Jameela Jamil, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry.
Gao is the head writer. Executive producers are Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Coiro and Gao. Co-executive producers are Wendy Jacobson and Jennifer Booth.
She-Hulk premieres Aug. 17 on Disney+.
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