By now you’ve probably watched the debut episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. If so you’ve seen the cheeky meta-series take on Jennifer Walters, the cousin of Bruce Banner. But if you haven’t had the chance to catch up on her comic book history, we’re here to answer all your burning questions. What are She-Hulk’s powers? Can She-Hulk fly? What were She-Hulk’s powers in the comics? And how does the Disney+ She-Hulk series change them? We’re about to dive deep into the world of gamma radiation, attempted mob hits, and more to find out the truth!
What Is She-Hulk’s Origins and Power Set in the Marvel Comics?
Jennifer Walters debuted in Savage She-Hulk #1. The cousin of Bruce Banner and a successful lawyer, Jen gained her powers after a failed mob hit. She was shot in the early pages of the comics by some criminals she was prosecuting. Luckily, Bruce was in the car with her. So like any normal person, he immediately took her into the house and gave her a makeshift blood transfusion! He quickly realized that while his blood saved her life, it also transformed her. When she’s attacked in the hospital, she transforms. Her powers are similar to Bruce’s. Massive strength, immense power. But there’s one big difference: Jen keeps her own personality while she Hulks out. So, yes, that has been a key tenet of She-Hulk since her inception.
As She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters has impenetrable skin. And while she cannot technically fly, Jen can jump incredibly high, leaping huge distances. In the comics she’s fought against many of Marvel’s strongest characters including her cousin. But what really gives her the edge is the ability to keep her Jen consciousness when she’s in her She-Hulk form.
How Does the MCU Change She-Hulk’s Origin and Powers?
In this version of Jen’s story the creative team reimagines her Hulk origin. The first episode does away with the failed mob hit and replaces it with something that more deeply connects to the MCU. As Bruce and Jen are on a road trip together they’re waylaid by a Sakaarian ship. You might recognize it from Thor: Ragnarok. The unexpected alien appearance surprises Jen enough that she veers off the road. Soon Bruce is bleeding into her wounds and almost instantly she begins to Hulk out. That moment replaces the blood transfusion from the original. It’s not long before we learn just how powerful Jen is as Bruce takes her to his beach hideaway to train. While Bruce expects Jen to be like he was as Hulk—two separate personalities battling for control—she is, just like the comics, almost immediately just herself but big and green.
While her origin may have changed, her powers are comics accurate. In fact we get to see her do some pretty classic Hulk moves during her training. Not only does she do the infamous Hulk clap, but we also see her Hulk smash, throw some very heavy boulders, and generally show her cousin just how much of a Hulk she is. It’s really fun to see two powerful Hulks fight, and the premiere absolutely delivers on that front. Another thing that the show adds to the She-Hulk canon is an explanation as to why Jen can control her powers. It’s simple—as a woman, she’s been angry pretty much all of her life. So she’s gotten very good at controlling her feelings. Another interesting tidbit is that the combination of her blood with Bruce’s blood is so powerful that it enables Bruce to heal his injuries from using the Infinity Gauntlet.
What Does Red She-Hulk Have to Do with She-Hulk?
Isn’t this the big question! This is one of the more interesting elements of the Hulk family. In the comics it’s not Jennifer Walters who becomes the Red She-Hulk. Instead it’s Hulk’s on-again off-again lover Betty Ross. Yep, the daughter of Thunderbolt Ross—who himself took on the Red Hulk mantle—was the rage-filled anti-hero. It was during the 2009 Hulk series when the female Red Hulk first debuted. At first her identity was a mystery, but she was later revealed to be a mutated version of Bruce Banner’s first love. During this arc she came up against Bruce, his son Skarr, and She-Hulk, as well as ultimately battling her father in Red Hulk form.
During the Incredible Hulks series, Betty’s Red Hulk took on an antagonist role. Her complex history and connections to Bruce mean the MCU is likely to pursue this avenue soon. The question is whether Liv Tyler will come back to play Betty. We know that She-Hulk sees the return of Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, so it really doesn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility. And to be honest we would absolutely love to see Tyler come back for this unexpected role. Could that happen as early as She-Hulk: Attorney at Law? It seems unlikely. But with rumors about multiple different members of the Hulk family appearing, perhaps Red She-Hulk could debut there!
Featured Image: Marvel Comics/Marvel Studios