Jessica Gao, the creator of She-Hulk who just started on Disney+, discusses the issue of special effects in the series and why many scenes were cut.
When the screenwriter and producer Jessica Gao entered Marvel Studios for the first time to talk about She-Hulk – Jennifer Walters, lawyer and cousin of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) – it was not for a series dedicated to the character.
In an interview at variety, she tells how the adventure started. “My first date was to talk about the movie Black Widow and actually She-Hulk was part of my pitch“, explains the young woman. “She was my favorite character from the comics, and I just wanted to see her in the MCU. At some point, I think it’s Brad Winderbaum [producteur exécutif chez Marvel, ndlr] who said, ‘It feels like you’re showing us a She-Hulk movie with Black Widow in it.’“
She laughed as she replied, “Guilty. But you know what, everything went well.“Gao eventually became the creator and showrunner of She-Hulk: Lawyerwith Tatiana Maslany (Emmy winner for Orphan Black) as Jennifer – alongside several other major MCU characters.
Except that She-Hulk represents a real challenge for the studio since it involves focusing on a green Hulk of more than 2 meters created thanks to complex techniques using motion capture on which are added expensive special effects.
Jessica Gao talks about a conversation with Kevin FeigeMarvel Studios honcho, and the last-minute changes she and her fellow writers faced during production on the show:
“I had produced for television before, so there’s always a part of my brain that imagines an executive producer yelling at me and blaming me for his ulcer. So while writing the show, I was very aware of that, but I had no idea how much the CGIs cost. I just knew it’s expensive. Early on, I asked Kevin Feige:
‘How much can we do? How cost conscious should I be? Give me some guidelines.’ And he said, ‘If I watch a show called She-Hulk, I want to see She-Hulk.’ It was a kind of carte blanche to write it as I wanted. And I distinctly remember thinking, ‘I hope we remember this conversation when the budgets come back and someone gets mad at me for it.“
Jessica Gao mentions that even after production began, she was asked to cut scenes with She-Hulk and write more with Jennifer Walters to save on the budget. In fact a lot of things have been changed shortly before the official release:
“Once we got into pre-production and during production itself, once somebody had to sit down and start costing all of this, every week I was like, ‘Can you cut more scenes from She-Hulk? Can you edit more scenes with Jen rather than She-Hulk? Can she be Jen in more scenes?’ So there were a lot of things that then had to be changed at the last minute to go from She-Hulk to Jen. Even in post-production, we had to cut a lot of shots just because it was She-Hulk.“
An instruction which obviously was not followed at least for the first episode which includes many scenes with She-Hulk while Jen discovers her powers. But it looks like the sequel will be more sparing on special effects.