With the Incredible Hulk TV series blowing up ratings-wise in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Marvel Comics began to worry that CBS might try to spin off a female-led series (in the same vein as Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man). In order to retain control, Marvel beat them to the punch and created She-Hulk before a female Hulk TV series or TV movie could go into development. Now, 40 years later, the TV show Marvel once worried about, is becoming a reality, and She Hulk fans are the ones who are beginning to worry.
The lead actress for the upcoming She-Hulk series has been announced to be the petite ‘Orphan Black’ star Tatiana Maslany, reminding us the She-Hulk is still set to make her live-action TV debut, 40 years after her first comic book appearance back in 1980. It was originally rumored that Marvel was looking for someone like Glow‘s Alison Brie, but how often is CBR right?
She-Hulk is reportedly set to begin shooting in Atlanta, Georgia in February 2021. And while Marvel is still finalizing the casting, there still have been no indications are that the TV series will stick closely to the comic book mythology created by the late, great Stan Lee. Let’s take a closer look at the production in order to inform what fans can expect on the small screen. Will we be getting the empowered, funny, attractive version of She-Hulk or the new, ugly, dreary version like was seen in last summer’s Avengers #20?
In addition to the cast, the writers room had one writer who was a very open, white male hater. Dana Schwartz, has not only been a writer for the show, she’s very prolific on Twitter, where she compares men to garbage, wants all literature by straight white males barred from Pulitzer consideration, and claimed it was sexist to question her about her credentials that landed her the She-Hulk gig. While filming hasn’t begun on She-Hulk, it was recently revealed by screenwriter Dana Schwartz that the entirety of Season 1 has been written.
The She-Hulk room ended so if you happen to be a showrunner looking for a writer who makes jokes and writes books and knows a lot of historical fun facts, hit me up!!!!
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) May 5, 2020
Rick and Morty writer Jessica Gao has also been tapped to lead the writers room after Dana Schwartz had apparently just completed the first script. We’ve already covered our concerns about Ms. Schwartz here. Youtube commenter MechaRandom42 goes into in more depth.
As Mecha points out, the lead actress on the show is hard-left in her politics, with her social media constantly promoting ‘Defund the Police,’ BLM, trans-activists charities, and the general “Orange Man Bad” derangement that we’re already used to by the actor that plays Jennifer Walters’ cousin Bruce Banner, Mark Ruffalo.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) September 17, 2020
We also learned this month that there would, of course, be a female director. With her film “Marry Me” landing on Valentine’s Day weekend 2021 slot, director Kat Coiro is headed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is in negotiations to direct the pilot and several other episodes of Marvel’s She-Hulk series for Disney+. Coiro will also serve as an executive producer on the series. The director has helmed many popular shows including ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’, ‘Shameless’ and ‘Brooklyn 99’.
As the last major character to be co-created by Stan Lee for Marvel, She-Hulk is Jennifer Walters, an attorney and cousin of Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk. She Hulk aka Jennifer Walters aka Bruce Banner’s cousin, first appeared in Marvel Comics after receiving a blood transfusion from her cousin during her debut in the 80s. Back then she was a svelte, sexy, lean, and powerful green giant that was introduced in her original Savage She Hulk title and was carried on with even more aplomb in the classic John Byrne run and Dan Slott volumes, quickly becoming one of Marvel Comics’ strongest female characters and breaking the fourth wall of meta-comedy way before Deadpool was even a poorly conceived idea by Rob Liefeld.
John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk series was never afraid to try out some new and interesting things, and the title’s acclaimed 1980s run is known for establishing much of the personality and look fans have come to love about Jennifer Walters. Since she works as an attorney, Sensational She-Hulk cast the green superheroine as a fashion icon of sorts, drawing comparisons to Melanie Griffith. When she wasn’t out busting up super villains, she was wearing stylish dresses and pantsuits or classic 1980s garb stylish for the era—a character trait that’s continued through subsequent iterations of the character.
Shulkie grew into her own defined character, something different from just a Hulk knock off, eventually becoming an occasional Avengers member, and well respected attorney. John Byrne seemed to be going out of his way almost immediately to make Jennifer Walters more glamorous and appealing. While still seven feet tall and unquestionably muscular, Byrne made her a bit more slender and gave her a somewhat more feminine figure. And Byrne, who has unfairly struggled against the incorrect slam that “all of his women look alike,” created a distinct, extremely attractive face for She-Hulk, which provided the vehicle for Byrne to do some of the most expressive penciling of his career.
Under Byrne’s pen, She-Hulk was beautiful, intelligent, and possessed a wicked sense of humor. Byrne’s refinement of the character was so striking that he often gets full credit for saving the character from her failed solo series, a compliment that Byrne continually deflects, citing AVENGERS writer Roger Stern’s use of her in AVENGERS, as a character who actually seemed to have fun being the Hulk, unlike her more famous cousin, as the reason he wanted to induct her in the Fantastic Four to begin with. The complete package, of She-Hulk’s redesigned visuals and refined personality, stands out has the most fully realized characterization of Byrne’s career, in my opinion.
However, three decades since she first appeared in Savage She-Hulk #1, writers (especially John Byrne) worked to develop the character into someone who is not merely a shadow of a male character. In fact, by the time Dan Slott got around to writing her solo title in 2005, the character’s winking reference to her own status as a comic book character became one of her defining features, and Slott developed this into a knowing and charming run, that represents some of Marvel’s best output in the 21st century. Slott’s She-Hulk series tells some interesting stories and uses its self-awareness to explore some of the mature notions of sex and sexuality in Marvel Comics.
While not part of her original conception, She-Hulk’s transformations seemed to have a lot more to do with uninhibited sexuality and sexual appetite than with anger. Sure, She-Hulk gets mad and smashes stuff, but since for the most part she can control her transformation and even prefers her She-Hulk identity – remaining in that form for months or years at a time, anger has less to do it with than her desire. Slott’s run on the title explored Jennifer Walters’s desire to escape her petite less assertive human form, and her social inhibitions.
But in the twenty-first century, Marvel decided to take things in a different direction for She Hulk. After her short 2014 Marvel Now run, which brought her back to her roots, but in decidedly ugly, or far less sexy, fashion. No one seemed to miss her when She Hulk disappeared from the scene for a while as the art on her solo book got worse and worse. Ronald Wimberly, an accomplished artist, brought potentially the least appealing art I had ever seen on the character.
I thought it couldn’t get worse after the Charles Soule run, particularly because of the Pulido art, but it did, when did a couple of fill-in issues. It was then that I knew they just didn’t care about Shulkie. I was encouraged when indie comics creator Mariko Tamaki was put on the next volume, which began in the aftermath of the character being put into a coma by Thanos in the Civil War II lead-in, waking up to discover that her cousin, Bruce Banner, was shot in the head and killed by Hawkeye. The Deconstructed arc follows Jen as she deals with her grief, gets back to lawyering and helps out a new client whose landlord is trying to evict them.
The writing was so bad that the editor was regularly filling plot holes in the credits page. Marvel Comics normally went the light-hearted route with She-Hulk, and I hope they do in the TV show. It’s served them well in the past. That’s what Charles Soule’s She-Hulk run went for, and did it well (other than the art). But Tamaki’s She-Hulk was depressing, gloomy, sad, miserable, and generally just a downer the whole time. It’s unfortunate that Tamaki turned out to be an incompetent writer whose feeble story was dreary at best. Nico Leon’s art is pretty unremarkable, and definitely not an attractive version of She Hulk.
As She-Hulk, one of Marvel’s most fun characters, prepares to take on an even bigger role in Marvel’s comics universe, I remain hopeful that the show will hearken back to the Byrne era of whimsy and empowerment, as opposed to the current form that is very masculine, brutish, ugly, and hostile. The Tanner Twins has noticed this attitude and mean-spiritedness permeating the comics as well.
She-Hulk will take place in Phase Four of the MCU, which includes other Marvel TV series like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wandavision and Hawkeye. Will it wind up being some kind of angry statement and commentary on women’s issues, or will it be both humorous, empowering, and light-hearted, just like Shulkie’s best era in the comics? Hoping for the latter, but expecting the former.
What would you like to see?