‘She-Hulk’ on Disney+ Inherits Controversial Representation in Original Comics

'She-Hulk' on Disney+ Inherits Controversial Representation in Original Comics
“She-Hulk” is available on Disney+ from this Thursday, August 18.
Marvel “She-Hulk” is available on Disney+ from this Thursday, August 18.

Marvel

“She-Hulk” is available on Disney+ from this Thursday, August 18.

SERIES – Jennifer Walkers is a lawyer like any other. Only, sometimes, she turns into a green character more than two meters tall, endowed with superpowers. Because Jennifer Walkers is also the superheroine she hulkthe cousin of Hulk honored in the new series She-Hulk: lawyer, available on Disney+ this Thursday, August 18.

First appeared in the comic book Savage She Hulk #1 in February 1980, this character was created by screenwriter Stan Lee and artist John Buscema. Faced with the success of the comic book series Incredible Hulk in the late 1970s, and its television adaptation, they indeed decided to offer a female version.

She-Hulk is therefore one of those female characters designed by creators wishing to decline their flagship male characters, in the dc comics like in Marvel. At his side, we can notably mention Spider-Woman, Thor Girl, Aquagirl, Supergirl, or even Batwoman.

Legacy of comics “designed by and for men”

Historically, comics were first designed by and for men. Then, from an industrial and commercial perspective, the creators went looking for the most varied targets possible,” explains Maureen Lepers, doctor in cinema specializing in media representations, and teacher at the Sorbonne Nouvelle.

We then see the appearance of superheroines who are a priori intended for women. Only, ” the creators of these characters remained mostly men “, she points out.

Thus, many visual stereotypes appear on the drawings during the transformations of the character, in particular very indented clothes. ” A character like She-Hulk inherits the representational logics of superheroines who were there before them “, she adds.

She-Hulk in the comic book
Marvel She-Hulk in the comic book “The Savage She-Hulk #1”, unveiled in 1980.

Marvel

She-Hulk in the comic book “The Savage She-Hulk #1”, unveiled in 1980.

The new Disney creation, written by Jessica Gao, and directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia, then inherits a controversial liability, and which leaves its mark. Starting with its name, which literally means “She-Hulk”.

“On the show, the character has the same problem with that name as you and me. We all struggle with this one”explains Tatiana Maslany, the actress who plays She-Hulk in the series, at Late Show by Stephen Colbert. “She finds it simplistic, she asks herself: ‘How can I detach myself from it, why can’t I exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?’ »adds the actress.

A high-performance green body, but still harmonious

By taking over this character in 2022, Marvel studios are dragging a whole lot of baggage with which they have to work, and come up against questions of representation of the female body, which are then inevitable.

This green and powerful body, which is the particularity of Jennifer Walkers, was particularly the subject of criticism when the trailer for the series was released last May.

Some viewers didn’t appreciate that, unlike her cousin, She-Hulk didn’t look misshapen and monstrous. His body is muscular and powerful, but he remains harmonious. In other words, “he meets certain culturally accepted physical criteria for women “says Mareen Lepers.

We relied on a model of Olympic athletes, not bodybuilders “, then replies Kat Coiro, in remarks reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

This athletic body represents a good compromise according to Marvel, which then creates a visually strong character, without straying too far from the standards.

find a balance

Everything is a question of balance in the production of Marvel series and films, the objective of which is to reach the widest possible audience. The teams must retain an audience very attached to the original comics. But they must also attract children and grandchildren, who are perhaps more open to contemporary political and cultural issues adds Maureen Lepers.

To sum up, if you are too revolutionary, then you lose a good part of your audience. Same thing if one is too reactionary.

The new version of She-Hulk is a character that keeps the same name and the same story as in the comics, while adapting to our times. In particular, we observe a willingness to work with new archetypes”, notes the doctor.

“She-Hulk” is available on Disney+ from this Thursday, August 18.
marvel studios “She-Hulk” is available on Disney+ from this Thursday, August 18.

marvel studios

“She-Hulk” is available on Disney+ from this Thursday, August 18.

We notice efforts not to make her a hypersexualized character in the series: she is not permanently in a bikini, and does not try to save the world in stilettos. When she trains she wears tracksuits, and when she works a completely classic avocado suit.

But sometimes, the teams allow themselves shots where she appears sexier, once again marking a certain balance in her style of dress.

The series works with diverse expectations. The reception by the public, it is more complicated to apprehend, all the more when one creates from scratch the body of a woman. ” There is an imperative of comments that we do not observe for the male characters. QWhen we stage a female character, we open a pandora’s box that is difficult to close concludes Maureen Lepers.

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