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Why She-Hulk Is Getting A Disney+ Series And Hulk Isn't

Ever since it was first announced back in 2019 that streamer Disney+ would be fielding miniseries set in the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have been treated to one startlingly awesome piece of good news after another. While the initial slate seemed promising enough — including a Falcon and Winter Soldier team-up, the time-hopping adventures of Loki, and a series centered on Vision and Scarlet Witch which we now know to be an absolute delight — the hits, as they say, just kept coming. It has become clear that Marvel will be using its Disney+ outings to introduce a ton of new faces to the MCU, with one of those faces being the fourth wall-breaking, wise-cracking, green visage of Jennifer Walters, also known as the sensational She-Hulk, who will be portrayed by Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany.

Walters is the cousin of the Green Goliath himself, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who in the comics gives her the blood transfusion that saves her life, and bestows upon her the power to smash. Unlike cousin Bruce (pre-Avengers: Endgame, that is) Walters retains her formidable intellect after hulking out — which, given her vocation as an attorney, has made her one of Marvel's most consistently entertaining characters. Hey, if you're a superhero who finds yourself hauled before a judge, it makes a certain kind of sense to hire a seven-foot tall, green-skinned woman with rippling muscles and an unexpectedly lawyerly disposition.

She-Hulk is certainly due for her MCU introduction, but with Ruffalo having so successfully endeared himself to audiences — and with the Hulk only ever having gotten one solo film — it's worth asking why the big guy himself isn't getting the Disney+ series treatment. Marvel Studios hasn't issued any kind of official statement on the subject, but we can think of a few pretty good reasons.

The Hulk's tenure in the MCU is likely coming to a close

The Hulk's film rights are famously complicated. Universal Studios has long owned a distribution stake in the character's solo flicks, which is one reason why 2008's The Incredible Hulk (in which Banner was portrayed by Edward Norton) never got a sequel. Mysterious "inside sources" have recently reported (via BGR) that this issue has been resolved, with the Hulk's rights finally having reverted back to Marvel — but this is unconfirmed, and even if true, it likely has little to do with the choice not to have the character headline his own series.

For one thing, it's unclear whether Universal's stake ever included television rights, as well as film. For another, The Incredible Hulk wasn't exactly a hulking smash (nor was the pre-MCU Hulk, directed by Ang Lee and released in 2003). The classic TV series of the seventies and eighties notwithstanding, the Hulk has not exactly proven that he's even capable of carrying a successful solo property on his massive shoulders — but he has proven to be an extremely capable supporting player, from the Avengers movies to Thor: Ragnarok. It's in this capacity that ol' Greenskin was given a fantastic, well thought-out arc in the MCU — and even though Ruffalo has said that Endgame was planned to be the end of that arc, it's also the capacity in which the actor is apparently in talks to return for (presumably) one last go-round in She-Hulk, according to Variety.

Of course, this makes narrative sense, given Walters' familial connection to Banner. But if Hulk works best as a supporting character, why would Marvel bother with a She-Hulk series in the first place? Well, because all Hulks are not created equal — and Walters happens to have a rabid fan base.

She-Hulk is a fan-favorite character in her own right

She-Hulk was introduced in 1980, and throughout that decade, her profile was slowly elevated as she enjoyed her own moderately successful solo series, as well as appearances in issues of The Avengers and Fantastic Four. She really came into her own, however, when the legendary John Byrne, returning to the Marvel fold after a brief stint with DC, took on her relaunched solo book in 1989 (via CBR). In Byrne's hands, She-Hulk's series became an ongoing satire of comic books themselves — and Jennifer picked up awareness of her own status as a comic book character, regularly breaking the fourth wall to address the reader.

Over the years, the character's writers have continued to add endearing quirks to her personality, traits with which she's now strongly associated: a fun-loving attitude, a quality of mercy toward her oft-overmatched opponents, an extremely sharp legal mind, and a tendency to be stymied by real-world types of troubles, to name a few. In 2007, the great Peter David — a longtime writer on The Incredible Hulk comic series who was at the time in the process of taking over She-Hulk from Dan Slott — expounded on the character's potential in an interview with Newsarama. "She wasn't exactly a laugh riot in her earliest incarnation. But [...] the [humorous] way that Byrne approached her [...] has stuck with her for some time," David said. "She-Hulk [also] has the potential to be our Wonder Woman. A powerful female with a strong moral center and a determination to do what's right. She's also a unique combination of brains and brawn. The ideal She-Hulk story is one that plays on both aspects of her make-up, the intelligence combined with her strength."

Indeed, the Disney+ series has been described as a half-hour legal sitcom (via Screen Rant) — again, starring a whip-smart, justice-obsessed, super-strong, seven-foot tall green woman, which we can totally get behind.

Marvel's Disney+ serials are moving toward launching new characters

It's also worth mentioning that while the first batch of Disney+ series are focused on legacy MCU characters, a goodly number of the projects announced for the future will not be. Even Hawkeye, which will feature Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton, will probably see the most underrated Avenger passing the torch to a young protégé, Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop — and the bulk of the serials will center on new characters intended to eventually appear in future films. 

So far, aside from She-Hulk, those include Moon Knight, which will star Oscar Isaac as the unhinged antihero, as well as Ms. Marvel, in which newcomer Iman Vellani will star as shape-shifting teenage hero Kamala Khan, and Ironheart, which will see Judas and the Black Messiah's Dominique Thorne take on the role of teen genius Riri Williams, who looks to carry on Tony Stark's legacy. Other announced series will see established MCU characters anchoring small-screen takes on classic comics storylines which will doubtless add even more new faces to the fold, such as Secret Invasion (which will star Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury) and Armor Wars (which will see Don Cheadle reprise his role as James "War Machine" Rhodes).

With Bruce Banner's arc having been nicely completed, his right arm disabled thanks to his Decimation-reversing snap in Endgame, and a phalanx of new characters jockeying for screen time, the time is simply right for the Hulk's smashing days to be over. Fortunately, cousin Jennifer stands ready to pick up the mantle — and we're betting that watching her metaphorically beat up on opposing attorneys will be at least as much fun as watching her literally beat up on hapless supervillains.