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‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ Director Kat Coiro and Creator Jessica Gao on Adapting a Metafictional Comic to the Screen

The first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is just around the corner, and Awards Radar was lucky to have been able to attend the virtual press conference on the series, with showrunner Jessica Gao, co-director Kat Coiro, and stars Tatiana Maslany and Ginger Gonzaga in attendance.

What’s more, a question from Awards Radar was answered during the press conference, where it was asked to Coiro and Gao how one approaches adapting such a groundbreaking and metafictional Marvel comic to the screen and which elements they wanted to retain from the comics for the show.

For Gao, “foundationally, I felt like first and foremost was the fourth wall breaking and the kind of meta-humor and the self-awareness. Because it was the John Byrne run that made me fall in love with this character. It was so lighthearted and fun and refreshing. So that was always kind of a foundational element. And because I come from TV comedy, comedy was a priority. But what’s great about having such an incredible cast is that it feels like you’re cheating a little bit as a writer. Because they come in and they really just imbue this humanity and this realness to these characters. Where you were like, ‘Oh, I was kinda focused on jokes, but you guys made her a real person.’ “

On the other hand, Coiro said that the creators were always looking for “that balance between really honoring the comedy that was on the page and that the actors were bringing on the day. But also making something that fits into the MCU visually and feels cinematic. And it was just always going back and forth between those two things and finding ways to slot them both in.”

And in talking about her love for the She-Hulk comic, Coiro said that it started when she was a little girl and “seeing the cover of a She-Hulk comic amidst the sea of male comics. And just not knowing who she was or what this was, but knowing that I was moved by it. And that the idea of being large and in charge and taking control, taking up space, was something that really resonated with me. And I remember, I bought that comic book. And so, when this show came along, it was really the culmination of a real dream.”

Gao also said that the fact that She-Hulk is a television series allowed them to “have time and space to really sit with the character and learn more about them. And really get to know them as a fully fleshed-out person. And what’s great about Jen Walters, She-Hulk, is that she, because of Tatiana Maslany, I don’t know if you guys have heard of her, she was able to, immediately, from day one, make this feel like a real human being. You feel like she’s lived a life, she has life experiences, she has relationships, she has a family and she has friends. And also, she changes, she might feel different in the morning than she does in the evening. She might feel different today than she does yesterday. This is a real person who actually feels things and processes things and, like most people, has highs and lows.”

In playing She-Hulk and entering the world of the MCU, Tatiana Maslany said that “Going
to the courtroom was really exciting. It was fun to step into the world. What’s so great about the show is that it has all those huge Marvel elements to it. There are big set pieces. However, we also deal with She-Hulk swipe dating. And we deal with her helping her dad carry stuff into the garage. So, it’s those little sweet moments that really made me excited to do this show.”

And in attending Marvel Studios’ Panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Maslany said that she was “shaking before we got out there. First off, I remember the feeling that we all had, which was just buzzy, giggly, excited. Just so thrilled that we got to do this. But then also this very warm crowd who knows everything about this universe, way more than some of us do.”

Ginger Gonzaga plays Nikki, Jennifer Walters’ best friend and one of the MCU’s newest additions, and said that she would hang out the character in real life: ” I would hang out with Nikki in real life. Shamefully, I do feel like I’m kind of cheating on this show. I feel like Nikki’s pretty similar to me. But yeah. I like Nikki. She’s very free. She’s that person you want, who can get away with anything, and encourage you to do whatever.”

And in joining the MCU, Gonzaga couldn’t believe it: ” I was like, “Wow! I’m gonna be in the Marvel- verse. One sec, let me clean up after my puppy that I haven’t trained.” So, it was a very humbling instant thing afterwards for me.” She also praised Gao’s vision on the show, after being rejected by Marvel many times, stating that she was perfect for She-Hulk, “Jessica actually pitched herself by being like, “I know more about She Hulk than anyone,” which is the facts. And so, the universe waited for the one that was right for you.”

The first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is available to stream on August 18 on Disney+.


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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