She-Hulk: Attorney At Law smashed onto our screens with its first episode on August 18. And her entrance was just as spectacular as I had hoped. Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters is funny, determined, and knocks it out of the park in both human and Hulk form. One particularly delightful aspect is the difference between the origins of the MCU’s She-Hulk and her comic book counterpart in the original run of The Savage She-Hulk. Comic She-Hulk doesn’t have the familial and friendship support she needs; however, the MCU She-Hulk is surrounded with support, love, and a lot of fun banter.
In The Savage She-Hulk, Jen had to fend for herself majority of the time. Bruce was there in her very first comic, providing the blood transfusion needed to turn her into the She-Hulk. But then he left and did not return all throughout the rest of her run. Indeed, the Jennifer Walters of The Savage She-Hulk spent a lot of time in isolation. She was subject to sexism via others in her field, a jealous stepmother, and a distant father who was leading a manhunt for She-Hulk. (For context: She-Hulk was the prime suspect in her best friend’s death. In reality, the culprit was a woman who died in a plot to murder Jen, therefore leaving She-Hulk to take the fall.)
In contrast, the MCU’s Jen becomes the She-Hulk simply by her open wound mixing with that of Bruce. Their genetic connection is enough that the combination produces the She-Hulk. Unlike in the comics, Bruce is there to guide Jen with her transition. He does his best to smooth Jen’s journey into becoming at peace with her Hulk form—something that took him 15 years. He goes so far as to share his syllabus with Jen. And, Bruce nurtures her abilities while still rough housing and taunting one another as cousins do.
Her transition into the She-Hulk different because Bruce comes to her immediate aid and guides her through the process of being a Hulk. In this capacity, Bruce is able to exert his influence on what kind of Hulk she becomes. He encourages Jen toward being a superhero rather than returning to her career as a lawyer. And, as we we see in episode one, she combines them together. In the comics, her superhero journey is more a stumble because of the unpredictable nature of her shifts and the situations she ends up in. Jen had to ultimately decide to use her powers to augment her time as a lawyer until the superheroring won out.
For comic book Jen, things come to an emotional standstill in issue #19 of The Savage She-Hulk. This issue is where she completely snaps and comes to believe that everyone in her life has either abandoned her, betrayed her, or died. Thus she embraces becoming the She-Hulk full time to escape her problems. Eventually there is a resolution, but she stays the She-Hulk, more comfortable in that persona.
It will be important to see in future episodes what causes Jen to embrace her She-Hulk personality more fully with her strong support system (at least in the initial episode). MCU Jen has more support not only in the form of Bruce but also from colleagues at her law practice. Her friend and colleague Nikki is well aware of her identity as the She-Hulk and very supportive. Meanwhile, Dennis Bukowski (though he only appeared briefly) appears to be much more mild in terms of how he treats Jen. This is vastly different from his comic book counterpart, the condescending and misogynistic Assistant District Attorney Buck Bukowski. In fact, Buck’s arrogance is why Jennifer’s best friend Jill died. The most critical aspect of Jen’s support system, however, is the presence of Bruce in her initial MCU journey.
She-Hulk and Hulk do reunite in several comics later on in She-Hulk’s chronology. But including Bruce at the beginning of She-Hulk’s MCU journey solidifies the idea of them as family. And it ties them closer together as Hulks. It also continues the Phase 4 MCU trend of focusing on family and identity. These have been core themes of every show Marvel has put out since WandaVision as well as movies like Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, Spiderman: No Way Home, and Thor: Love and Thunder. Making She-Hulk yet another show grounded in a close familial bond grounded in identity is not insignificant. It is a powerful move that gives She-Hulk a solid foundation. And I cannot wait to see what the future brings for Jennifer Walters and her fun lawyer show.
She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is currently airing weekly on Disney+.