Wednesday, May 18, 2022

It's Not Easy Being Green

From the moment that a She-Hulk series was announced, it was a given that the title character would be a CGI creation. Even though attorney Jennifer Walters' Gamma Goddess alter ego transforms into a slimmer, more human scaled Hulk than her cousin Bruce, she's still a Hulk and putting green make-up on actress Tatiana Maslany wasn't going to cut it for a modern audience. 

This isn't a situation like Zoe Saldana's Gamora. Here there's a transformation that has to take place. Multiple transformations per episode, as Maslany will continually be going between her Jennifer Walters persona and her Hulk mode. And that Hulk mode won't always be the same. Maslany will be fully Hulking out and becoming physically bigger in some scenes so rather than going back and forth from make-up and prosthetic appliances to digital, you have go with consistency. Digital can cover everything that has to be done with the character, make-up can't.

The thing is, we've had almost twenty years of CGI Hulks by now, starting with Eric Bana in 2003's Hulk, then with Ed Norton in 2008's The Incredible Hulk and on to Mark Ruffalo starting in 2012's The Avengers and continuing on through his many MCU appearances since then. So this is very familiar territory by now, with none of these Hulks completely transcending their CGI nature but with fans being fairly cool with that but from the reaction to the She-Hulk trailer, you'd think that fans had been thrust into uncharted territory, forced to wrap their brains around a digital Hulk for the first time. 

While many did greet the trailer with excitement, recognizing that it captures the feel of writer Dan Slott's She-Hulk comic run, and that it displays the kind of light touch that suits the character, the whining about the CGI used to bring Maslany's She-Hulk form to life was immediate, with armchair animators tweeting that it looked terrible, that her face was too uncanny valley and so on. I say bullshit, she looks every bit as good as any of the CGI Hulks we've had. 

Many who did enjoy the trailer pointed out that the show's release is still months away and that the final product would no doubt be improved as animators continued to work on it. While there might be some truth to that, I think the correct response is not to apologize for how the CGI looks in the trailer or to attempt to assure that it'll look better when it's done but to say "Wait, what the fuck are you even bitching about?" Because that is definitely the first thing that comes to my mind: what the fuck are you bitching about?

Watching the trailer, I was not convinced that this was a flawlessly lifelike rendition of She-Hulk. But that's fine. What I care about is the humor, the personality, the general vibe of the show and all of that feels very on point to me. If the CGI is not rendered with absolute realism down to the last frame, I can get past that and enjoy the show. If the performances are appealing, if the scripts are sharp, that's what matters. If they aren't, that will take me out of what's happening far faster than any dodgy CGI. And for the record, I don't think what we see in this She-Hulk trailer is even dodgy. It's freaking fine.

Back in the early '90s we almost got a She-Hulk movie with Brigitte Nielsen. It would have looked cheesy as hell but I'm so bummed it never happened. However it came out, whatever short comings it would have surely had, it would have been so cool just to have it exist as an actual film. So am I going to complain now because the incredibly advanced, feature film quality CGI used to bring this She-Hulk to life may not be slick enough to make me forget that it's CGI? Hell no. 

The fact that we're getting a She-Hulk show - one that also will feature Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk and Tim Roth as The Abomination (and it wouldn't shock me if Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock showed up too) is cause for celebration but all some people can do is bitch about the CGI. The CGI, by the way, that is completely on par with what we've gotten in blockbuster movies! I don't know, man. People can be tiring.

I may end up liking She-Hulk, I may not, but the CGI look for the Jade Giantess isn't making me jaded. As long as she's green, we're good.

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