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The Untold Truth Of She-Hulk

Bruce Banner understandably takes up a lot of the limelight, but there are a few other Hulks roaming around the Marvel Universe. One of the most interesting? Bruce's cousin Jennifer Walters, a.k.a. She-Hulk, who's done everything from kicking around with Marvel's First Family to flying around the galaxy as a space lawyer (really).

So as she prepares to take on an even bigger role in Marvel's comics universe, we're digging into the life of She-Hulk to see exactly what makes her tick—and why she really is a critical cog in the Marvel machine.

She was breaking the fourth wall long before Deadpool

Fox's Deadpool movie made pretty much all the money when it hit the big screen, partially due to the fact that Wade Wilson cracked jokes and broke the fourth wall—often talking directly to viewers and referencing quirks from the other X-Men movies. But She-Hulk helped pioneer that concept at Marvel Comics several years before Wade Wilson started cracking wise. The Sensational She-Hulk ran for 60 issues in the 1980s and pushed all kinds of quirky boundaries at the publishing house.

The cover of the first issue actually featured She-Hulk holding a copy of her previous standalone title, telling readers: "This is your second chance. If you don't buy my book this time, I'm going to come to your house and rip up all your X-Men." Well played. Sensational She-Hulk wasn't afraid to get weird and often featured She-Hulk talking directly to readers as well as her own writers and artists. She even literally ran through the comic book once, which was pretty cool. Fans loved it, and over the next few years it would become more standard across the comics landscape, but She-Hulk was one of the first to popularize it.

She-Hulk was only created to protect potential future TV/film rights

Considering how successful the Hulk has been over the years, it'd stand to reason Marvel would want to expand the character's reach with some supporting players anyway. But it actually took the threat of losing the potential rights to a female Hulk character that pushed the publisher into actually making it happen. With the Incredible Hulk TV series blowing up ratings-wise in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Marvel started to worry CBS might try to spin off a female-led series (in the same vein as Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man). In order to retain control, Marvel beat them to the punch and created She-Hulk before a female Hulk TV series or TV movie could go into development (which, ironically enough, never actually happened).

She replaced The Thing in the Fantastic Four

Though she's currently holding down a roster spot among Marvel's A-Force (and has been a member of the Avengers in the past), She-Hulk has been a member of several different teams over the years. One of the most interesting? The Fantastic Four. Though Marvel's First Family is typically comprised of Mister Fantastic, the Human Torch, Invisible Girl and the Thing, the superhero foursome has often featured temporary members along the way. In the 1980s, She-Hulk joined the roster as the resident strongman (or woman) when the Thing decided to stay on Battleworld for a while in the wake of Marvel's first Secret Wars event. The Fantastic Four had a roster spot to fill, so they tapped She-Hulk, who did an excellent job holding down the fort in his absence starting with Fantastic Four #265. Even after that first stint came to an end, she eventually worked with the Future Foundation and teamed up more than a few times with the Four—most recently in the Fantastic Four spinoff FF, which found her working alongside Medusa, Miss Thing, and Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, during the main team's absence.

In the alternate future of Old Man Logan, she had an incestuous relationship with The Hulk (eww)

Alternate universes are a staple of the comic book medium, and there are few more bizarre and fascinating than the desolate alt-future brought to life in the 2008-2009 comic series Old Man Logan. Though the series largely focused on Wolverine's life in a future in which most of his friends have died, it did over up some grotesque potential futures for a few Marvel stalwarts. In this alternate reality, the Hulk eventually hooked up and made some babies with his cousin She-Hulk (eww). Did we mention this story was really, really dark? The children of the Hulks' incestuous union grow up to become a sort of green hillbilly Mafia (and Wolverine's aggressively violent landlords). Again, eww.

She was one of Stan Lee's last great creations

During his peak run throughout the 1960s, comics legend Stan Lee co-created many of the A-list heroes on Marvel's roster. He had a hand in Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Black Panther, Hawkeye, and the X-Men, just to name a few. But after that remarkable run, Lee didn't create a character for more than a decade—at least until She-Hulk came around. Lee co-created the character of Jennifer Walters with John Buscema in 1980, and she made her debut in Savage She-Hulk. She stands as one of the last truly successful characters Lee's created.

She was married to a Man-Wolf for a while

She-Hulk has had love connections with more than a few heroes and villains across the Marvel roster, but one of her most interesting relationships was her brief marriage to John Jameson (son of Spider-Man stalwart J. Jonah Jameson). John has been portrayed as everything from an astronaut to a Man-Wolf over the decades. More recently, the duo were married in Vegas—though they later learned their relationship was mostly the result of manipulations by another character, Starfox. At that point, the marriage was pretty much over.

There was almost a She-Hulk movie in the late 1980s starring Brigitte Nielsen

While the character never wound up in the live action Incredible Hulk TV series from the late 1970s and early 1980s, Marvel did try to mount its own She-Hulk movie in the late 1980s. The project got far enough along into development for the studio to shoot some concept photos starring Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja, Beverly Hills Cop II) and it was even announced as an upcoming project at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991—along with a would-be sequel to Dolph Lundgren's unloved Punisher movie. Production fell apart when the company failed to generate enough funding to start filming; needless to say, Marvel wasn't nearly as successful at making movies back then. As for Nielsen? It was certainly an interesting look for She-Hulk: they basically just tossed some green makeup on her and a wildly 1980s comic book-style outfit.

She was a 1980s fashion icon in Marvel Comics

John Byrne's Sensational She-Hulk series was never afraid to try out some new and interesting things, and the title's acclaimed 1980s run is known for establishing much of the personality and look fans have come to love about Jennifer Walters. Since she works as an attorney, Sensational She-Hulk cast the green superheroine as a fashion icon of sorts, drawing comparisons to Melanie Griffith. When she wasn't out busting up super villains, she was wearing stylish dresses and pantsuits or classic 1980s garb stylish for the era—a character trait that's continued through subsequent iterations of the character.

She has most of the Hulk's power, but less of the rage

Marvel didn't stray too far from the Hulk canon when introducing Jennifer Walters. The story goes like this: Bruce Banner's cousin, she was introduced to readers after being targeted by a crime boss and mortally wounded. There were no blood donors of her type available to save her except for Bruce, so he stepped up. Surprise, surprise: She started exhibiting Hulk-like power and eventually permanently turned green. Her transformation was complete when the mobsters come back to finish the job and she took them out in a fit of rage (unlocking the Hulk DNA). But she's definitely not just a female Hulk clone.

Though she inherited the same Hulk strength as Bruce Banner, the gamma effects aren't as strong for Jennifer, so she doesn't have nearly as much of that blind, Hulk-like rage (her initial transformation notwithstanding) that contributed to so many of the problems Bruce faced over the years.

She became a deep space intergalactic lawyer

One of She-Hulk's key traits is her legal prowess, which was a rare approach for a female character in the early 1980s. Jennifer Walters has always been one of Marvel's strongest and most confident heroes. But who knew those legal skills would lead to a universe-hopping career?

In a fairly recent arc, She-Hulk was employed by the Magistrati to serve in the Star Chamber to assist the group with judging cases across the universe. She took on some world-shattering cases along the way, and even defended the existence of the mainstream Marvel 616 universe against being replaced by the Ultimate Universe. Thankfully for mainstream Marvel readers, She-Hulk is one heck of an attorney, and won the case. Of course, it all ended up being moot when the Ultimate Universe ended up being obliterated as part of the 2015-'16 Secret Wars event. Hey, comics are complicated.

She faced off against Daredevil in court in the trial of Steve Rogers

They're the two most prominent lawyers in the Marvel Universe, and it's crazy to think it took until 2014 for She-Hulk and Daredevil to finally face off in the courtroom. The two met in a case involving Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America—who had lost his youth and super-soldier abilities at that point. Writer Charles Soule managed the tricky feat of balancing the dueling attorneys' abilities and resolving the story in a satisfying way, all while offering a fine setup for a spinoff of Netflix's Daredevil series that would focus solely on She-Hulk and Daredevil taking care of business in the courtroom. Maybe next season?

In Spider-Gwen's universe, she's a pro wrestler

One of the most interesting alternate realities in the Marvel canon is Earth-65, the alt-New York City that Spider-Gwen calls home. Her series is a ton of fun for a number of reasons, introducing everything from a black female Captain America to a version of the Punisher who's a shady cop. But that reality also has its own version of She-Hulk—and she's a pro wrestler. Gwen almost fights She-Hulk (in a nod to the classic Spider-Man story where Peter Parker enters the ring after gaining his spider-strength) but is derailed to stop a crime. Later on, she has a dream sequence in which she teams up with She-Hulk, which is awesome. All's well that ends well.

Buffy alum Eliza Dushku has voiced She-Hulk (and wants to play her in real life)

It's always fun to see genre alums pop up in interesting voice roles, and the Disney XD series Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. turned to one heck of a fan favorite when it came time to cast She-Hulk. Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet Eliza Dushku (Faith) was tapped to voice Jennifer Walters in the series and apparently had a pretty good time with the gig—she enjoyed it so much, she told ComicBook.com she'd be open to actually playing the character on the big (or small) screen if the opportunity came up. If that Netflix idea ever comes to pass, we know just who to call.

DC filmmaker David Goyer called her a 'porn star' and it did not go well

David Goyer is well acquainted with the DC universe after writing Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he got himself into hot water with some comments about She-Hulk in 2014. Goyer was asked about the character while guesting on the Scriptnotes podcast and responded, "She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it's like if I'm going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk, then let's create a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could f—."

Unsurprisingly, Goyer's comments were not well received. Fans fired back, pointing out she's actually the Hulk's cousin (making a sexual relationship pretty gross) and has a long history of being a strong and independent female character. Goyer obviously didn't have much background knowledge, and even Stan Lee got involved in the response, telling the Washington Post they "never for an instant" conceived her as a love interest for Hulk, and arguing, "only a nut would even think of that."

Fair point, Stan. Fair point.

She's about to take over Marvel's flagship Hulk book

The current Marvel universe is a very different place, with Amadeus Cho serving as the Totally Awesome Hulk after taking Bruce's powers and "curing" him of his gamma radiation. But Hulk-related news took a turn for the worse during the Civil War II event, when Bruce Banner was killed during a standoff with a faction of the superhero community concerned that his condition's reversal wasn't permanent. She-Hulk has also been sidelined with injuries as part of the larger story, but she'll be coming back in a big way this fall.

Marvel has announced She-Hulk will take over the mainline Hulk title, and the story is described as a psychological journey in which Jennifer has to come to terms with Bruce's death and all the baggage being "the Hulk" can carry. Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso described the project to the A.V. Club, saying, "Jen went through major trauma in Civil War II, and [the] story will deal with the fallout of that trauma—the anxiety and anger, sometimes self-destructive, that comes along with it. If there is light at the end of the tunnel, Jen is going to have to search hard for it, and she's going to have to battle with some pretty big monsters—including the one within—to find herself again."