'She-Hulk' Biffed the Opportunity to Ditch That Awful Name

·2 min read
Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

What's in a name? Ever since the character's creation in the late '70s, the title "She-Hulk" has remained the worst aspect of Jennifer Walters's story. "Look! It's an offshoot female sidekick for the beloved male character!" Not very forward-thinking. Marvel has had innumerable chances to change the character's name over the years, but we've always arrived right back at the goofy, limiting She-Hulk. That said, there was a time when writer John Byrne considered changing her name to something even worse like "Bombshell," so maybe we shouldn't poke the bear over at Marvel.

After originally mentioning that the name was "lazy, reductive, and straight-up garbage" in its first episode, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law pulled a 180 and pivoted hard in Episode Five. The latest story concerned Titania (Jameela Jamil) and her plan to trademark the name She-Hulk from under Jennifer Walters's (Tatiana Mosley) nose. Jen takes her to court to win back her name, deciding to accept and identify herself as She-Hulk. Really? Why choose to be called She-Hulk? Sure, in a way she must be called She-Hulk because it's right there in the title. Still, the show almost did what no one has been able to do thus far—fix that goddamn name.

The closest we've come to a permanent shift occurred during Mariko Tamaki's run in 2016, when the gendered moniker was dropped for a comic simply titled Hulk. But a year later, we were right back where we started when the legacy numbering transitioned back to She-Hulk #159. According to Decider, the whole ordeal over her name started during the original Incredible Hulk television show on CBS in 1979. Legendary Marvel writer Stan Lee was worried that Universal was going to try and create a rival TV series to Hulk with a female protagonist, so he quickly came up with the name and copyrighted it immediately. He had good reason for concern, apparently, because the Incredible Hulk's producer previously spun the network's Six Million Dollar Man into a series for Universal titled The Bionic Woman. Just a little over a dozen quick comic pages later and voila! She-Hulk was born.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law's latest episode may have been an in-house nod to her character's legal creation, but it also could have been a chance to fix the mistakes of the past. Why not let a silly character like Titania keep the She-Hulk name so that Jen could think of something better? "It stuck, so now whether I like it or not, I am forever She-Hulk," Jennifer Walters resigns in Episode Five—which is also titled "Mean, Green, and Straight Poured into These Jeans." Sad! A missed opportunity to really drive those light-feminist takes home and have the character redefine herself in 2022. More like mean, green, and demeaned.

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