Another Marvel Studios Disney+ series, another installment of From Page to Screen. Each week, we will compare Marvel comics’ elements to the live-action episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. You can check out previous From Page to Screen series for Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel. With the first episode of She-Hulk streaming, it is the perfect time to look at the character’s origin in comics and on screen.
In the comics, as laid out in Savage She-Hulk #1 (1980), Jennifer Walters was a prosecutor who also happened to be the cousin of Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk. Jen was an ambitious lawyer who took her job very seriously. One day, Bruce came to visit her and revealed to her that he was the Hulk, which at the time was more or less a secret to the public. At the time, Jen was eyeing bringing criminal charges against Nicholas Trask, a notorious crime boss. Trask’s goons followed Jen and Bruce as they were driving. When they got out of the vehicle, Trask shot and seriously wounded Jen. Bruce, deciding there was not enough time to get Jen to a hospital, gave her a transfusion of his own blood. The transfusion saved Jen’s life, but gamma radiation in Bruce’s blood caused her to transform into the She-Hulk.
How the Series Handled the Origin
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s first episode focused on Jen’s origin as She-Hulk. While the fundamentals of the character’s comics origin are still in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the live-action version of her origin is undoubtedly significantly different. Still, the basic concept of Jen becoming a Hulk because Bruce’s blood entered her veins made it into the series. Instead of a transfusion, however, their blood accidentally comes into contact after a car wreck. Jen, whose arm is leading from slicing it on some vehicle wreckage, pulls Bruce (who is also bleeding) from the car. Bruce warns her to stay away, but it is too late.
Another interesting component that is present in the comics and series is the car ride. It seems relatively insignificant to the greater story, but both involve tragedy after Bruce visits his cousin. How the car ride turns out, though, is obviously very different. In She-Hulk, Jen is still a prosecutor, but there is nothing about her targeting a crime boss. Instead of being shot, the car goes off a cliff to avoid a Sakaaran ship that blocks the road.
Considering She-Hulk is being introduced, essentially from scratch, in the MCU, it makes sense that her origin would be updated to reflect the established universe and also benefit the series. As a half-hour comedy, a more elaborate crime boss backstory could take up too much time if it isn’t particularly relevant. The accidental blood mix-up also streamlines Bruce’s role in Jen’s transition—he may have a lot less emotional investment or guilt surrounding the event if it didn’t involve an intentional choice by him.
We will keep analyzing how the comics are adapted in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law as the series continues. The first episode is now streaming on Disney+.