Intentional or not, those working with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have laid the groundwork for a She-Hulk film. With Endgame, the creators developed two major characters in ways that directly link them to She-Hulk. The Hulk and She-Hulk’s major distinctions have often been their ability to hold their consciousness while in Hulk form. Bruce Banner was seen in Endgame having just discovered this. Similarly, the aged-up Captain America once appeared in the 2014 She-Hulk series, Disorderly Conduct.
The elder Captain America in this story hires Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk as his lawyer when he was sued. Beyond these connections, however, the origin of the She-Hulk would fit nicely within the themes that appear in the current timeline. The addition of the character would go a long way toward further development of strong, female title characters for the MCU. The timing is perfect for a She-Hulk film.
After the massive events of Infinity War and Endgame, it would be advantageous for the films to scale-down. That is, to do another smaller-scale character-based story similar to the ones in Phase I. An ideal fit would be the origin of She-Hulk. She-Hulk’s origin begins when David Bruce Banner comes home to visit his family, in particular, his cousin Jennifer Walters. The character was created at the height of the popular television show The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s and 1980s.
At the time, the major storyline surrounding Banner/Hulk was that he was on the run from the law. Family played an important role for many characters in both Infinity War and Endgame. As such, transposing this story to take place after these events would not feel forced. During his visit, Banner discovered that his cousin was a lawyer attempting to take on a mob boss. Walters was shot after the mob boss put out a hit on her. After that event, Banner must give her a blood transfusion to save her life.
This gives her the power to transform into the She-Hulk — similar to the regular Hulk, but with the ability to maintain her own consciousness. We see this ability set-up in Endgame as Banner has discovered a way to “have the best of both worlds.” Deciding to stay in the Hulk form while maintaining Banner’s mind.
Do Marvel Films Already Play With Genre For She-Hulk?
The MCU has already shown an affinity for playing with other genres. Captain America: Winter Soldier was a spy thriller (and featured a veteran of the genre, Robert Redford). Ant-Man and the Wasp, likewise, played upon the tropes of heist films. A courtroom drama would be an exciting addition and could bring the focus back down to Earth. Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk’s status as a lawyer who specializes in Superhuman Law allows for the continuation of themes set-up in Captain America: Civil War.
They can continue to examine whether or not superheroes should be held responsible for their actions. This is similar to Daredevil on Netflix as well. The character is not out of place in the “cosmic” realm, if, as it seems, that is the next MCU’s expansion. In her 2004 series Single Green Female, She-Hulk was a member of the Magistrati — enforcers of universal law in space. If this storyline were to be explored, the character could exist on both sides of the larger MCU story arc.
Let’s Talk About The “Marvel Female Character Problem”
It took the MCU 10 years and 20 movies before they made one that had a female title character with Captain Marvel (19 if we count the underrated and underpromoted Ant-Man and the Wasp). While I did enjoy Captain Marvel, and appreciated the creator’s attempts to keep specific narrative elements close to more recent storylines in her comics, I wanted something more. Not just because it had taken them so long to get to this point. Comparatively, the MCU had done so well addressing issues of race and the impact of colonialism in creating a dual identity for African-Americans with Black Panther. I wanted Captain Marvel to deal with issues of gender bias, discrimination, and stereotypes in the same way.
Instead, these issues were addressed sub-textually, only occasionally put right out front. It is no secret that the MCU has a troubling track record of both underdeveloping their female characters and turning them into the token ‘girl’ when they are in groups. Issues surrounding the development of Black Widow have been well-documented, from her troubling admission in Age of Ultron to the seemingly never-ending promise that she’d get her own film. A film that is now only going to be made after the character was unceremoniously killed off in Endgame. However, Gomorra and Scarlet Witch have suffered similar fates, both turning from strong, deadly characters to ones that must carry the bulk of the narrative pathos.
Caroline Siede, writing for the AV Club discusses Marvel’s attempts to remedy this issue in both Infinity War and Endgame, but in a way that doesn’t yet feel earned.
The Time Is Right For She-Hulk
Perhaps the easiest thing Marvel can do to remedy this issue is to continue to add more films with female leads to their lineup. Marvel has a number of female characters with rich backstories and complex lives which should be prioritized (as they have with their male characters). A character like the She-Hulk would work well in this context. Her identity as the She-Hulk is just as important as her distinction as a lawyer. She is not ruled by one characteristic but struggles to balance two seemingly disparate parts of her life. Her best stories address issues that many women grapple with — that is, the struggle to embrace your most powerful self and not try to let outside stigma hold you back.
It’s not just the narrative developments that the MCU has made so far, but the need for more female-led superhero movies that are unapologetically feminist. She-Hulk provides that opportunity for the MCU to develop its female characters as well as their male superheroes. In fact, she brings with her the opportunity for further expansion in the form of the She-Hulk and Captain Marvel led group A-Force (this time made up of the awesome women we’ve already established in the MCU). The MCU’s history, narrative threads, and character development have lined up nicely: it’s time for a She-Hulk movie.