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Why She-Hulk's Jennifer Walters Is So Much Better at Hulking Out Than Bruce Banner

'A big part of it is because she's a woman.'

Kat Moon

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Episode 1 of She-Hulk. Read at your own risk!]

It doesn't take long into the premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law the latest title from Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — to realize that Jennifer Walters' (Tatiana Maslany) journey of becoming a Hulk is going to look nothing like that of her cousin, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). After a car accident that allows Bruce's blood to enter Jennifer's body by mistake, she transforms into a green, 6-foot-7-inch Hulk. But unlike her cousin, she has no problem controlling her superhuman form and does not lose her consciousness. It's an ability that immediately shocks Bruce. "Wait, you're still Jen? Right now?" He asks his transformed cousin in disbelief. "You don't have another guy to wrestle with for 10 years." Not only does Jennifer avoid fighting an alter ego for control over her body, she also quickly proves to be a natural at the physical aspects of being a Hulk. Bruce takes her through a series of training exercises, and Jennifer aces all of them.

How is Jennifer so good at being a Hulk? Head writer Jessica Gao provided some insight. "A big part of it is because she's a woman," Gao told TV Guide. "We talked a lot about the differences between Jen and Bruce in terms of how they processed becoming a Hulk because even though very similar things happen to them, just by virtue of the fact that, A, they're different people and also one's a man and one's a woman, they would naturally just process things differently."

It's something that's made clear in She-Hulk's Episode 1, too. Bruce tells Jennifer that the transformations are triggered by "distressed emotional states," such as anger and fear. "Those are like the baseline of any woman just existing," Jennifer responds. 

Gao expanded more on this difference. "For Jen specifically, because she is a woman, because socially and culturally women are conditioned from a very early age to really temper their emotions and really treat their anger differently, because we do have a double standard for how we accept anger from a woman versus how we accept anger from a man, and so they are still going through very, very different journeys on this path to being a Hulk."

Tatiana Maslany, She-Hulk

Tatiana Maslany, She-Hulk


Kat Coiro, who directed Episodes 1 through 4, as well as 8, and 9, discussed how being a woman impacts Jennifer's transformation. "We talked about it in the episode, the idea that women have to control their anger all the time, that female rage is not something that's really socially acceptable," she explained. "Historically, we've seen male superheroes blow their tops and get steamed and it's actually part of their jobs, it's to get angry to defend humanity. But when a woman does it, it's not looked upon with high regard." Coiro said that Jennifer has a different type of self-awareness when she transforms. "It's part of what makes her able to retain her identity and her consciousness. She comes into it with that advantage," she said.

Jennifer's swift mastery of the physical exercises is also something that surprises Bruce. "In terms of her strength and training, we talk a lot about the fact that she is not someone who hits the gym, she's not used to training," Coiro said. "But she has an innate strength that definitely comes through in that montage."

Despite Jennifer excelling at being a Hulk mentally and physically, she has zero interest in becoming a superhero. Jennifer tells Bruce she's eager to return to her life as an attorney. Though if the final moments of She-Hulk Episode 1 — where Jennifer transforms into She-Hulk in the courtroom to fight Jameela Jamil's Titania — is any indication, it will be no easy task to avoid the path to a superhero.

She-Hulk Episode 1 is available to stream.