Can the She-Hulk Series Escape Its Comic Book Issues?

This week Marvel released the first full-length trailer for their upcoming nine-episode she hulk series and the reactions among fans were decidedly mixed. I consider myself something of a “Marvel cynic,” so it should come as no surprise that I watched the trailer and was left feeling sorely disappointed. Tatiana Maslany is an incredible pick for Jennifer Walters, the tone of the trailer offers up a nice departure from some previous Disney+ series, and the dynamic between Jennifer and her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) seems promising, but everything else feels like a fever dream conjured up on Reddit. Sure, one could argue that judging a series by its trailer is a lot like judging a book by its cover—but most people choose books based on what the cover is selling them, and this trailer is selling the worst elements from the comics alongside a heaping helping of unholy uncanny valley designs.


I want to preface this by saying that VFX artists are sorely mistreated in the film industry. They are tasked with quick turnarounds, long hours, and underfunded teams, and they are not covered by the same union regulations and protections as most of the industry, which results in rampant exploitation. Despite the fact that VFX artists are the driving force behind most blockbuster features and television shows currently, their work is often scrutinized because they are working in such untenable conditions. In recent years, there have been situations like the Sonic backlash, which resulted in the VFX artists going back to the drawing board to correct the Sonic renderings on a significantly truncated timeline.

Since her introduction in The Savage She-Hulk #1 In the 1980s, Jennifer Walters has been a frustrating character for a lot of comic readers because she is surrounded by regressive stereotypes. While Bruce Banner becomes a massive, mostly terrifying, green monster when he hulks out, Jennifer transforms into a sexy 6’7” muscular green lady that is almost always drawn in perverse, sexualized poses. Most of her de ella comic de ella runs de ella feature her half-dressed, shielding her naked body with a newspaper, or bikini-clad on the covers. She often looks like the nighttime fantasies of a particular subset of comic book readers. Like most of the women in Marvel Comics, she has also been romantically linked with a long list of partners, and even referred to as “sloppy seconds” when torn between prominent Marvel characters. the she hulk trailer doesn’t seem to shy away from that, unfortunately, they just repackage it in slightly more appealing ways. It’s a woman that compliments Jennifer on her ass! Jennifer finds a guy to date that seems okay with her bridal carrying him! The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not quite at a point with its female characters where it can play with subversive stereotypes, without running the risk of grandiose errors.

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Marvel’s VFX team has had 10 years to perfect Bruce Banner’s transformation, and it shows. in the she hulk trailer, Ruffalo manages to retain a sense of realism as he lumbers around his lab, but the second Maslany transforms into She-Hulk something deeply unsettling happens. Her short curly-haired look of her becomes long, smooth waves; her facial features of her transform as her strong jawline gets softened to make She-Hulk more conventionally appealing. Sure, there are some details of Maslany that are recognizable in the transformation, but they still get lost in the jarring design choices. Maybe it’s a byproduct of the uncanny valley-ness of the character design, but each glamified She-Hulk scene shown in the trailer looks like an entirely different actress being rendered.

In more recent she hulk comics, things haven’t gotten better entirely, but they have allowed her to be a little more like her cousin. Her transformations of her do n’t make her more sexually appealing, she is allowed to be more grotesque and less aimed toward the male gaze. Marvel has an issue with reducing female characters to ideas that exist along a binary—Black Widow viewed herself as a monster for being forcibly sterilized in Age of UltronWanda’s main motivation is wanting to be a mother in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessSprite’s source of anger in Eternals was being unable to look like an adult woman that would appeal to Ikaris. None of these things is necessarily bad in isolation—but when weighed against the in-depth, fully updated storylines of their male counterparts, it becomes a pattern.

I hope that the trailer is highlighting a few of these moments to play into the sitcom vibes, and that the actual series will delve deeper. There is a very compelling story to be told by Jennifer Walters about body image issues and dysmorphia. Changing from a petite woman into a giant, hulking green lady is a shock to the system, and trying to reclaim your confidence in your appearance is a very relevant and relatable story. Balancing all of that with the pressures of being an accomplished lawyer and a visible superhero in the post-Sokovian Accords world is a lot to manage. Hopefully, the writing team recognizes that and does their due diligence to play into that, rather than playing it up for jokes. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get glammed up and go on dates, but female characters have to have more substance to that, or we’ll never escape the echo chamber the MCU is trapped in with its female heroes.

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