How Marvel’s She-Hulk Changes Her Comic Book Origin Story

“Jennifer Walters is so different from Bruce Banner.”

Originally Published: 
Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk/Bruce Banner and Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer "Jen" Walters / She-Hulk in ...
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Tackling the titular superhero’s origin story in the premiere, Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law wastes little time before deviating from the comic books. In 1980’s Savage She-Hulk #1, Dr. Bruce Banner saves his cousin, Jennifer “Jen” Walters, from a fatal gunshot wound by infusing her with some of his blood, ultimately causing her to “hulk” out. However, the Disney+ MCU series explained the lawyer’s transformation into a 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk in a different way.

In Entertainment Tonight’s She-Hulk featurette, Tatiana Maslany describes her character, Jen, as “an attorney who has accidentally taken in the Hulk’s blood” — with the operative word being accidentally. Indeed, an early scene shows Jen and cousin Bruce, aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), getting into a car accident, which is when his rage-making powers inadvertently enter her bloodstream. After she begs him to reverse the transformation, expressing no desire to be a superhero, he reminds her, “There is no going back to what you were before. Who’s gonna protect the world if not people like you?”

Though “Smart Hulk” explained Jen was about to embark on a “multi-year journey” to learn to control her newfound powers, she was “clearly nailing” her cousin’s training exercises from the jump, even exhibiting a superiority in some ways. In control, and without a destructive alter ego, Jen bypassed most of the training, as well as the uncontrollable monster phase she went through in the comic books, to return to her life as an attorney.

“Jennifer Walters is so different from Bruce Banner,” director Kat Coiro explained to “In that, when she hulks out, she maintains her identity, but her identity is also affected by the way that she’s perceived and the way people look at her. And there’s a moment in the pilot when she gets out of Bruce’s saw machine, and she kind of does a little shimmy and feels this new body for the first time.” Coiro said she had a lot of discussions with Maslany about how to present differently as Jen’s green alter ego.

Despite some key differences from the source material, plenty remains the same throughout the series as well. In a separate interview with Variety, writer and producer Jessica Gao revealed which runs of the She-Hulk comics she drew from most for the show. “John Byrne was the run that made me first fall in love with the character, and so her characterization is really heavily pulled from [that],” Gao said, adding that they also “cherry picked” elements from Stan Lee’s first issue and Dan Slott and Charles Soule’s subsequent runs.

“We might pull a villain from this one, we might pull a premise from that one, a supporting character from a third,” she added. “Because Byrne was the one that really introduced the fourth wall breaking and the meta nature of everything — that, to me, is essential She-Hulk.”

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