With high expectations and a sprawling scope of storytelling, directing anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would seem daunting. For Kat Coiro, an executive producer and director on the series "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," it was only scary before Tatiana Maslany was cast in the lead role.
"As soon as the idea of Tatiana came into the sphere of the show and then she actually auditioned for us, all the fear went out the window. I said, 'Oh, we've got her.' She is an actress who understands things on an intellectual macro level, but then also understands things on a very emotional, engaged level. And we needed somebody with that intelligence ... vulnerability," said Coiro, who directed six of the show's nine episodes and worked closely with writer Jessica Gao.
While it's noteworthy that the show's filmmakers are female, at San Diego's International Comic-Con in July, Maslany said she was more drawn to working with talented people behind the camera, who happened to be women.
"I'm just excited that I get to work with people who I'm like, 'You're (expletive) cool,' you know what I mean?"
In "She-Hulk," which premiered Thursday (8/18), Maslany plays Jennifer Walters, an attorney to the superhuman who, like her cousin Bruce Banner — played by Mark Ruffalo — turns into a Hulk when she gets angry. The series, with its legal cases and winky commentary, is different than other Marvel projects.
To prepare, Coiro, who was already a fan of the Marvel movies, revisited each title.
"After I got the job, I sat down and I watched everything in chronological order. And it was pretty revelatory because I realized that unlike anything that has ever been done before, the MCU is this ever-evolving organism that kind of draws inspiration from the audience and from what fans want," Coiro said. "When you look, for example, at the evolution of 'Thor,' it starts out pretty serious. And now we are in, you know, the most recent installment ("Thor: Love and Thunder") that is just so goofy and out there. And I think that has a lot to do with feedback and with listening to the fans.
"On 'She-Hulk,' we have this character who is very self-aware and because there is a meta level to the show, we get to directly engage with fans and play around with the idea that like, 'We know Twitter. You're out there, we know you're listening.'"
Coiro, who recently directed Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson in the rom-com "Marry Me," says "She-Hulk" was appealing because she prides herself on her "eclectic resume."
"I always look to Rob Reiner during the time when he did 'Misery' and 'The Princess Bride' and 'Spinal Tap' and 'Stand By Me,' and I go, 'Those are so wildly different but they all have themes about what it means to be a human being and these very elemental thematic undertones.' That's what excites me rather than one genre or one way of storytelling."
Upcoming projects include executive producing and directing two episodes of the YA fantasy series "The Spiderwick Chronicles" for Disney+ (based on the book series of the same name), and signing on to helm a buddy action, comedy movie called "Foreign Relations" starring Nick Jonas and Glen Powell.
"Nick saw 'Marry Me,' and the story is that he called Glen and said, 'You've got to check out 'Marry Me.' And they fell in love with the film. They called me and they said, 'Do you want to direct this?' We went out and sold it to Amazon. I'm so excited to work with them because they are just this charismatic duo."
Coiro will also adapt the Liane Moriarty novel "The Husband's Secret" for the big screen, which she describes as "a sexy murder mystery thriller that is a throwback to those big, cinematic films of the '80s and '90s."
With movie star looks herself, it should come as no surprise that Coiro began her career in showbiz as an actor, but she quickly became intrigued with everybody's jobs behind the scenes.
"I saw the directors and the producers and the writers and the cinematographers and I very quickly changed lanes and stopped acting and started directing. It's when I finally felt like I had arrived in the place I was meant to be. I was able to use the strengths that I had and tell the stories the way that I wanted to tell them."
Alicia Rancilio is an AP writer. Producer Krysta Fauria contributed to this report.