Proving that it ain’t easy being green, Jessica Gao’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is destined to flex its muscles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The eight-part series will Hulk-smash its way onto Disney+ from 18 August, with Tatiana Maslany suiting up as Jennifer Walters.
The clue is in the name, but juggling her life as a superhero and an attorney means She-Hulk is effectively Ally McBeal with a Marvel twist.
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While Walters doesn’t have as long a comic legacy as the classic Incredible Hulk, she’s an icon in her own right and is sure to be part of the MCU’s female-first future. But, just who is Jennifer Walters, how strong is she, and how does her complicated backstory tie to Bruce Banner?
Who plays She-Hulk?
Taking the lead in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Tatiana Maslany landed the role after an extensive search. Fan castings and rumours tipped everyone from Rosario Dawson to Alison Brie for Walters, while Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz took herself out of the running because of scheduling conflicts. Now, we have our She-Hulk in the form of Maslany.
Known for her starring role as Sarah Manning and her clones in Orphan Black, Maslany has also starred in the 2020 reboot of Perry Mason and trod the boards alongside Bryan Cranston for the Broadway adaptation of Network.
Following She-Hulk's announcement in 2019, Mark Ruffalo admitted he was in talks to reprise his role as Banner in 2020. Despite reports that Maslany had been cast that September, she originally denied the claim. As the rumour mill went into overdrive, Maslany and MCU overlord Kevin Feige confirmed she’d nabbed the lucrative role.
Speaking to Empire, Maslany described Walters as the 'antithesis of most superhero narratives' because she’s happy with her life before She-Hulk and tries to pull away from her powers. Things sound like they change when she heads up a superhuman law firm, where Maslany says we’ll meet the 'really fun characters'.
Balancing more serious themes with the MCU’s first-ever sitcom, the star describes it as an 'absurd take on a legal show'.
How strong is She-Hulk?
Introduced in 1980’s The Savage She-Hulk #1, She-Hulk’s origin is tied to Walter’s role as a hot-shot lawyer. Although She-Hulk isn’t as strong as Hulk, she outshines him in a number of other ways. Namely, she gets to keep her intelligence when she transforms, which is unlike the thuggish Hulk.
The MCU has already solved the problem of Hulk blundering around thanks to the introduction of Professor Hulk in Avengers: Endgame. From what we’ve seen of Banner in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ post-credit scene and She-Hulk, he’s managed to master controlling the Green Meanie.
The She-Hulk trailer shows Banner in both human and Prof Hulk form, with the latter training Walters. Other clips have shown a brand-new ability, as it seems She-Hulk can drink a load of alcohol without getting drunk.
If you want to know exactly how strong She-Hulk is, 1983’s Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (Vol. 1) claims that she can press 50 tons (although later issues upgraded that to 75) and use her powerful legs to leap 1000 ft.
The first She-Hulk: Attorney at Law trailers have shown her doing just that. She might lack the primal rage of Bruce’s Hulk to help improve her strength, but still, she can survive extreme heat and cold, as well as a direct hit from an artillery cannon. Bear in mind that these stats are from the ‘80s and she’s been buffed since then.
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In the comics, She-Hulk has proved her strength time and time again. Whether it’s snapping a conference table in half with the tap of a finger or knocking a chunk off Mount Rushmore by pummelling Red Hulk, she’s also ripped Vision to pieces and kicked Death (literally).
She-Hulk has even taken on the powers of a Celestial to grow to a ridiculous size. While we presumably won’t see most of these play out in the series, trust us when we say she’s seriously strong.
How does She-Hulk get her powers?
The MCU likes to mix its origin stories, but unlike She-Hulk getting her powers from the Terrigen Mist or an Infinity Stone, her backstory is pretty grounded.
Even though She-Hulk isn’t giving us the same jaw-dropping origin overhaul as Ms. Marvel being a mutant, her debut is a different take on the comics. That being said, the trailers mention a rise in 'eccentric superhumans', suggesting that Walters could be helping some mutants take the stand.
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As for She-Hulk’s powers, let’s turn to the comics. Traditionally, Walters gained her She-Hulk abilities after undergoing a blood transfusion with Bruce Banner. When Walters potentially had evidence to incriminate crime boss Nicholas Trask, he sent his agents to mortally wound her. Jennifer survived the gunshot but needed a blood transfusion. Bruce was the only viable donor around, so had to give his gamma-infected blood to his cousin.
Watch a trailer for She-Hulk
Revamping her origin for the MCU, footage from Attorney at Law shows Bruce and Jennifer being involved in a car accident. The Entertainment Tonight featurette shows how Bruce’s blood has got into her veins as a result of their injuries.
During the clip, Maslany herself says, “Jennifer Walters is an attorney who has accidentally taken in the Hulk's blood and has become [a She-Hulk].” It’s not exactly a perfect setup, and we’re left asking that after all the fights Hulk has been in over the first four phases, are we supposed to believe no one else has been splashed with his tainted blood?
What other Marvel characters appear in She-Hulk: Attorney At Law?
Don’t expect She-Hulk’s new-found powers to affect Walters’ abilities in the courtroom, but it will lead to her representing the villainous Abomination (Tim Roth) — who returns from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.
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If that wasn’t enough, there’s Doctor Strange favourite Wong (Benedict Wong) — who is something of a mystical Nick Fury these days — and the much-hyped return of Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil.
Finally, the cast is rounded off by Jameela Jamil’s Titania, who is another retooling of her comic book counterpart when she appears as a social media influencer obsessed with She-Hulk.
While some MCU shows like WandaVision were pitched as standalone miniseries, She-Hulk is lumped in the same boat as Loki and Moon Knight as those with potential for multi-season orders.
Rights issues with Universal mean Disney hasn’t moved forward with a Hulk standalone since 2008, and although there’s talk about a full-blown World War Hulk movie that would certainly bring back Maslany, those at the top are yet to confirm it.
For the time being, get ready for this lean, green, fighting machine to make her mark, and see a lot more of Maslany in the world’s highest-grossing franchise.
She-Hulk is streaming on Disney+ from 18 August, with new episodes every Thursday.