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Benedict Wong is a sick DJ and 8 other things we learned from the 'She-Hulk' making-of doc
The latest episode of Assembled peels back on the curtain on Marvel's Attorney at Law.
The legal and crime-fighting exploits of Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) get even more meta in the latest installment of Marvel Studios: Assembled, which peels back the curtain on the production of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (now streaming). The 53-minute documentary takes a deep dive into every facet of the recent Disney+ series — from the formation of the characters, to the look of the sets and costumes, to the return of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, to that gonzo season finale.
Head below for nine pieces of mean, green trivia we learned from the new special…
The show almost went with two actors for Jen and She-Hulk
As executive producer Wendy Jacobson states in the documentary:
"There was conversation even in the methodology about how we shoot this. At one point, we talked about, 'Are we gonna go old school and do it like Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno? Find a great actor who's of a certain height and then have a bodybuilder playing She-Hulk?' There were so many different discussions [and] we went down so many different paths. And the end of the day, it really landed with, 'We really need to find the best actor for this job, who's gonna bring the most to the role. Because ultimately, she's going to be a six-foot-seven green computer-generated image and we all need to feel like this is a real human being and buy what she's selling.'"
The show ended up paying homage to the Bixby-Ferrigno era in its finale episode with a nod to the campiness and tacky fashion choices of the late '70s.
Maslany & Ruffalo got to do their own stunts for their big Hulk fight
Since the Hulk-related side of their performances would later be rendered in CGI, Tatiana Maslany and Mark Ruffalo got to act out the fight between Jennifer and Bruce in the season opener without the use of stunt doubles. After all, they were well-protected in a pair of pajama-like motion-capture suits. "We got to do all our own stunts," Ruffalo says. "We got to do a big stunt fight scene together."
"We did these drills where they're competing, throwing boulders and she's winning. It was one of my favorite moments of the whole shoot where they just kind of went crazy and let loose," adds director Kat Coiro, who helmed Episodes 1-4, as well as 8 and 9.
Emily Blonsky was "more likable" in the script
Jen receives quite the shock from her new employer in Episode 2 when she's asked to represent Emil Blonsky, aka Abomination, aka the dude who nearly killed her cousin all the way back in Phase 1 of the MCU. "It's a fine line between embarrassing and pretentious and villainous," explains Tim Roth, who returned to play the character after all these years. Emil's finally up for parole, but there's just one snag: he's been violating his strict prison sentence by sneaking out (with some help from Sorcerer Supreme, Wong) to fight in underground arenas like the one we saw in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
"On the page, he was much more likable and straightforward," says Coiro of Blonsky, who seems both repentant and aloof. "And Tim brought these layers where you don't know if she should trust him, but at the same time, he still deserves justice. I think it makes her character very sympathetic because she's like, 'Uhhh, I don't really want to do this. This guy tried to kill my cousin, but what happened to him was wrong.' To me, that really harkened back to the comics, to the Jen Walters who will fight for what is right, no matter what."
Benedict Wong set up a DJ booth on his last day of filming
Benedict Wong isn't just a Master of the Mystic Arts, he's also a pretty sick DJ. According to Maslany, the actor closed out his final day of shooting with an impromptu music festival for the cast and crew. "On his last day, quietly, suddenly, there was a DJ booth up on a set we weren't using," the actress recalls in the doc. "And Benedict was DJ'ing ... He's the best. He is like such a dream."
Donny Blaze actor got advice from a real magician
The She-Hulk writing team trolled all of the Ghost Rider fans in the audience with the introduction of Donny Blaze (played by director Kat Coiro's husband, Rhys Coiro), a two-bit magician who essentially failed out of Kamar-Taj. When his old tricks begin to fall flat, Donny calls on his brief training in the Mystic Arts and chaos ensues, prompting Wong to take him to court. "We wanted the magic and the character to stand on its own, so we actually found a professional magician to advise [Rhys] and consult with him," Jacobsen reveals. "Rhys has been working with him super diligently: card tricks, rabbits, doves, smoke bombs."
Luke actor visited a Marvel costume "warehouse" for inspiration
To help him prepare for his role as Luke Jacobson (the premiere costume designer for the superhero community), actor Griffin Matthews was given access to a "Marvel warehouse in an undisclosed location," where all the costumes for the MCU are fabricated. "I got to tour [it] and I saw all of the incredible tailors and designers making the actual costumes," he says. "I learned a lot. There's a lot of precision, there's a lot of artistry. So it just informed my character." Matthews also looked at the work of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and "went down a rabbit hole of Black hairstyles," ultimately coming to the conclusion that Luke is "halfway in the past and he's in the future."
Leap-Frog's HQ was based on poisonous amphibians
It's time to ribbit and rip it! The headquarters for Leap-Frog (Brandon Stanley) and his henchman started off as a "very dark, stereotypical villain's lair" at a "used auto part place," states Coiro. Kevin Feige liked the baseline idea, but suggested adding "another layer," the director remembers. "And when he said that, we kind of went crazy with this frog theme."
"If you think about poison frogs, they are all colorful — a strong yellow or blue. So that was kind of an inspiration for that environment," continues production designer, Elena Albanese.
Charlie Cox thought Kevin Feige's offer to return as Daredevil was a prank
How can you have a legal-based Marvel show without Matt Murdock? It's like Thanos without the Infinity Gauntlet. "We really thought a lot of the magic of the show, aside from living in Jen's world, would be tying it to the larger MCU with all of these different court cases. I think we put Daredevil on kind of a wishlist because we were all fans of Charlie's and of the original [Netflix] show."
When Feige called up Mr. Cox with an offer to return, the actor seriously thought he was being pranked. "Kevin said that they had some plans for me and wanted me to potentially do a couple of things and he just wanted to check and see if I was interested and willing to come back and be part of the MCU, which was not a hard question to answer."
Despite being out of the vigilante game for several years, Cox immediately snapped back into the character once he put on the costume. "It'd been so long since I played the character, that it was a little bit like, 'God, I still hope I remember how this guy is and if I can still find the feelings.' But the suit really helped that. I put that on and was like, 'Ah, yeah, I kind of remember this.'"
He initially assumed the project would make use of the original Netflix costume, but was disabused of this notion when he traveled to Los Angeles for a fitting and learned of their plans to make use of a new suit that incorporated the yellow and red aesthetic from the comics. "It feels like this is the first step in an evolution of this suit, which is why it has the gold panels in there," explains costume designer, Ann Foley. "It's almost meant to feel a little bit like a primer part of the suit and it's really fun seeing Charlie in that suit."
Head writer wanted Jon Hamm or George Clooney to play Feige in the finale
Per head writer/executive producer Jessica Gao, the She-Hulk finale was molded in the vein of other MCU climaxes: a big, CGI fight scene with the central antagonist. Episode 9 tees up that audience expectation before shattering it into a million pieces as Jen makes her way into the real world and convinces the show's writers to come up with a less hackneyed conclusion.
She ends up speaking with the head of Marvel Studios, a sentient storytelling machine dubbed K.E.V.I.N., which the finale script described as "Akira meets HAL 9000." However, the lead writer's first instinct was to lean into a bit of crazy stunt cast with Jon Hamm or George Clooney — "some debonair man in a tuxedo — playing Feige. Gao thought a machine would be funnier, especially if it wore one of Feige's signature baseball caps.
"Visual development was doing different concept drawings of K.E.V.I.N. and he always had a little black baseball cap and then when the real Kevin saw it, he was like, 'Well, that doesn't make any sense. Why would a machine [wear] a hat?' And I was like, 'That's what you have a problem with?! That's where you draw the line with logic? That the machine that is you, who is behind the entire Marvel Universe, is wearing a baseball hat?'"
In the end, a visor-like aesthetic was built into the inherent design of the machine. If you look at the episode again, you'll notice how the three-lenses that serve as K.E.V.I.N.'s eyes are shaded by a little brim. It's kind of adorable.
All nine episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are now streaming on Disney+.