Popular ‘Star Wars’ Series Given a Fraction of Marvel’s ‘She-Hulk’ Budget

in Entertainment, Marvel, Star Wars

Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters (AKA She-Hulk) in 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law'

Credit: Marvel Studios

According to a new report, a surprising MCU miniseries released in 2022 cost Marvel Studios and its parent company, Disney, more money than you might’ve expected, leaving some fans scratching their heads as to why the project still left something to be desired despite having a hefty budget.

Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Odds are, you’re familiar with the controversy surrounding the Tatiana Maslany-fronted She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, a legal comedy set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that follows lawyer Jennifer Walters’ unlikely transformation into the Green Goliath. Well, a version of the hero, at least, after she’s dosed with the gamma-irradiated blood of her Avenger cousin, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), in a last-ditch effort to save her life.

She-Hulk was, to say the least, an ambitious outing on Marvel’s behalf, not shying away from exposing a more adult-centric corner of the MCU (AKA, that Megan Thee Stallion twerking scene you’ve probably seen all over Twitter). Unapologetically feminist and not afraid to get a little raunchy, the show had some serious potential to turn things around for Marvel’s Phase Four while appealing to more mature audiences. But, well, we already know how this story ends. Spoiler alert: near-disaster.

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk roaring in She-Hulk Attorney at Law
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Longtime comic book fans didn’t hesitate to rip into She-Hulk when it landed on Disney+ in August 2022, even after it brought franchise veteran Charlie Cox’s Daredevil into the mix while also providing some clever satire on the MCU. Still, its distractingly poor CGI, pushed “woman good, man bad” narrative, and lackluster villain — or lack thereof — didn’t exactly win audiences over, landing it near the bottom of Marvel’s growing list of Disney+ entries.

With a measly 32% average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, She-Hulk‘s abysmal ratings continued an especially troubling trend for the MCU, which has largely failed to find its footing following the conclusion of the critically acclaimed Infinity Saga in Avengers: Endgame (2019).

She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) and Daredevil (Charlie Cox) chat in Marvel's 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law'
Credit: Marvel Studios

And as the superhero studio deals with even more chaos on their newer TV shows thanks to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, a recent exposé published by Variety revealed She-Hulk‘s staggeringly high price tag, proving once and for all that there was really no good reason for the series to fail.

Based on sources close to the production, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law had a reported budget of $25 million for a single episode, potentially totaling $225 million for the full nine-part season. For context, Moon Knight Season 1, which brought Oscar Isaac into the MCU and featured six episodes, reportedly cost Marvel Studios $147.9 million, meaning each episode cost around $24.6 million.

Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Credit: Marvel Studios

Even more damning is the comparison of She-Hulk to Lucasfilm’s highly-anticipated Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, which debuted on Disney+ in May 2022. While the show was a mixed bag with audiences, it did see the return of fan-favorite Star Wars Prequel Trilogy actors Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, with its premiere raking in millions of viewers.

Despite holding the crown for the most-watched Disney+ original series premiere globally, Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s budget doesn’t hold a candle to She-Hulk‘s, which, according to previous reports, was only given a budget of $90 million total — nearly a third of the cost of Jennifer Walters’ first MCU outing.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Credit: Lucasfilm

It’s hard to say whether or not these sources are to be 100% trusted, but rumors of She-Hulk having such an expensive production do align with Disney’s recent history of throwing, frankly, obscene amounts of money toward releases such as Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) with hundreds of millions of dollars being funneled into their marketing campaigns alone.

She-Hulk is also, for better or worse, an extremely VFX-heavy show, which tends to get pricey (and unpredictable) the more a project relies on it. But it doesn’t explain why high-caliber shows like WandaVision and Hawkeye reportedly cost the same as She-Hulk, given that these TV entries used primarily practical sets and didn’t require much of any CGI or extensive VFX work. Did Marvel not give She-Hulk enough resources for such an ambitious project, or was the budget just poorly allocated?

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk marvel
Credit: Marvel Studios

It’s surprising to learn that even Obi-Wan Kenobi, which was over 17 years in the making and brought back two of the most iconic Star Wars characters of all time, was given such a low budget, as seen through its limited sets, dull action sequences, and, unremarkable VFX — not to the extent of She-Hulk, of course, but still a shadow of what Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic used to be just years prior.

Could this be a sign that Disney is electing to pump more money into Marvel moving forward, leaving Star Wars with scraps? Well, not necessarily, as Lucasfilm does have several exciting projects on the horizon, including Dave Filoni’s “Mando-Verse” crossover event and Daisy Ridley’s return as Rey in her upcoming solo movie. Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s budget likely suffered from it being a Disney+ original, with TV entries historically costing less than most blockbusters — until recently, that is.

grand inquisitor (left) and darth vader (right) in obi-wan kenobi
Credit: Lucasfilm

There’s still been no word on whether Marvel is choosing to go forward with another season of Obi-Wan Kenobi or She-Hulk. Similarly to their MCU predecessor, Moon Knight, it’s unclear what will happen to the casts of these shows as new episodes have yet to be greenlit.

Either way, Disney certainly isn’t picking favorites when it comes to its two most lucrative IPs and is likely looking to reevaluate its release strategy and financing as part of the company’s cost-cutting initiative. Hopefully, this means putting money into more sound investments like theatrical releases, which are much more likely to garner interest and earn back their budgets, given the unpredictable nature of the streaming model.

Obi-Wan and Leia in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Ultimately, one thing’s for sure: being more selective with their franchise content and hiring crafty filmmakers that can make magic happen with smaller budgets will only help Disney and its subsidiaries moving forward, and could save the studio’s TV business from inevitable demise. But giving larger budgets to a show as eagerly-awaited as Obi-Wan Kenobi should’ve been part of the plan from day one.

Do you think She-Hulk receiving a higher budget than Obi-Wan Kenobi was fair? Let us know in the comments below!

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