When she was first introduced in 1980’s The Savage She-Hulk #1, Bruce’s cousin Jennifer Walters got her powers in a very specific and of-its-time fashion. As a righteous lawyer, Jen pisses off the wrong mobster and gets shot in a mob hit. Luckily Bruce is right there with her, quickly enacting an at-home blood transfusion. Of course, that leads to Jen becoming She-Hulk. In the first episode of the Disney+ She-Hulk series we’re quickly introduced to a new origin for the hero. Instead of the failed assassination, she’s on a road trip with Bruce when they’re waylaid by a Sakaaran spaceship. It’s a shocking moment that sends them veering off the road. And instead of that transfusion, Jen gets her powers when Bruce’s blood gets into her open wound.
It’s a change that makes a lot of sense for Jen, but also for Bruce. And as the women behind She-Hulk explain, it was always the plan to reimagine Jen’s origin for 2022.
While it’s a choice that feels totally natural for the show, it was one that began—as many MCU choices do—with the folks in charge of the sprawling franchise. “There were several factors at play,” She-Hulk head writer Jessica Gao told Nerdist during a recent press junket. “Number one, the head honchos at Marvel specifically didn’t want to do a mob hit. I think mostly because it just didn’t feel like it fit with the story or what we really wanted to do.”
That was something that the creative team agreed with, and that fit with the wider scope of what they wanted to do with She-Hulk. “We really wanted to reinvent this for a new audience, and also for the modern era,” She-Hulk director Kat Coiro said.
Although they were shifting her origin, they didn’t have any interest in changing what made Jen such a fan-favorite character. “The essence of the character remains intact,” she shared. “The foundational elements [are still there] like breaking the fourth wall, taking up space, and being someone who’s a really good lawyer and has passion as a human being.”
As Gao explained, the change was important as a way to stay true not just to their version of Jen, but also to the MCU’s Bruce. “Having watched all of the movies and having been on this multi-year journey watching Bruce deal with being a Hulk, it was very tortured for him, it tormented him, he saw it as a curse. This was not like a fun, joyful thing. We’ve watched him for more than a decade trying to deal with it, limiting himself from even having relationships. I just don’t see how a person like that would ever willingly pass it on to his cousin who he clearly loves and cares about, you know? It just didn’t make sense to me, it didn’t feel right for the character.”
In some ways the origin stays very true to the one from the comics in that they’re both incredibly quick, allowing Jen and her story to move on from the incident almost immediately. And that was absolutely intentional. “For a practical reason we just wanted something that was very quick so that we could really get to the part of the story that we wanted to get into,” Gao said, “which is seeing her deal with this thing that happened to her. But we didn’t want to have to spend half an hour setting up why she got into this accident. So it had to be really quick and simple so that we could really get into the meat of the stuff.”
Most importantly, though, is that it’s a change that fits Jen’s MCU story and her wider journey in the hilariously relatable show, as Coiro shared. “To me, at its heart this is a story about a woman juggling modern day life. So reimagining the origin was just part of that reinvention.”
Featured Image: Marvel Studios