She-Hulk: Attorney At Law introduces a new gamma-powered hero to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but She-Hulk is very different from Hulk. The MCU has long operated with just one main Hulk character in Bruce Banner, played by Mark Ruffalo. After his injuries in Avengers: Endgame, it seemed that a new Hulk might be needed for the future. She-Hulk stars Tatiana Maslany as Bruce’s cousin Jennifer Walters, a brilliant lawyer whose life is forever changed when a car crash exposes her to Hulk’s blood and transforms her into the next Marvel superhero. While she is a Hulk, She-Hulk is not simply a female version of Hulk.
She-Hulk’s introduction is part of the MCU’s effort to replace the original Avengers and create legacy heroes. Audiences have already seen Sam Wilson become the new Captain America and Jane Foster become Mighty Thor. Yelena Belova is likely the next Black Widow, while Kate Bishop is positioned as the MCU’s new Hawkeye. In each of these instances, the new character stepping into a familiar role does so with some differences. Sam’s Captain America still utilizes a Falcon suit, while Jane Foster’s Thor had unique powers thanks to a reformed Mjolnir.
There are some similarities between Bruce Banner and Jennifer Walters, as both characters transform into giant green Hulks when they are angry. They also both struggle with the responsibility placed upon them by having these powers and yearn for their everyday lives where being a Hulk did not complicate matters. That is about where their similarities end, and the differences begin to show. So how do She-Hulk and Hulk compare in the MCU? Let’s break down their most significant differences.
Jennifer Walters Has Full Control Over She-Hulk’s Transformations
One of the biggest differences between She-Hulk and Hulk in the MCU is that Jennifer Walters has complete control over her transformations. When Bruce Banner first became Hulk, he struggled to control his anger and prevent Hulking out. He also had difficulty trying to turn himself back into his human form after becoming Hulk. She-Hulk jokes about Bruce being unable to control his transformations, often relying on getting knocked out from a big fall or a powerful punch to help change him. He and Black Widow also developed the lullaby technique to help Bruce regain control and revert to his human form.
This is not an issue for Jennifer Walters as She-Hulk. She repeatedly demonstrates that she has full control over her transformations. Not only can she transform into She-Hulk at will (similar to how Bruce explained he is always angry in The Avengers), but Jen can immediately return to her human form whenever she wants. She-Hulk’s power advantage in this area over Hulk directly results from Jennifer always being in control no matter what form she takes, whereas Bruce and Hulk often fight for control.
She-Hulk Does Not Have A Hulk Alter Ego
The reason that Jennifer Walters is in control of her transformations is tied to She-Hulk not having a Hulk alter ego. The MCU has spent plenty of time showing how Bruce Banner developed a Hulk alter ego after his gamma radiation exposure. The two personalities were constantly in conflict before Bruce found a way to create Smart Hulk. This was a 15-year journey for Bruce to understand his alter ego, according to She-Hulk episode 1. However, Jennifer Walters does not have this issue right from the beginning. She does struggle to fully remember her actions when her first two transformations take place. But unlike Banner’s battle with his anger to control Hulk, Jen settles into her new form by her third and retains full consciousness. This means she can remember her actions and be completely articulate as Hulk, something Bruce could not do for years.
She-Hulk’s lack of an alter ego directly connects to the comics. Whereas Hulk has always battled with Bruce Banner, She-Hulk and Jennifer Walters have always co-existed. There have been times when her rage becomes too great and Jennifer loses some control, but she always returns to her original balance. There is no explicit reason why Jennifer does not have a Hulk alter ego in the MCU like Bruce, but it is possible She-Hulk’s origins being tied to Bruce’s DNA after the Smart Hulk transformation had something to do with it.
She-Hulk’s DNA Is Better Than Hulk’s
The MCU also confirmed that one of She-Hulk and Hulk’s differences includes Jennifer’s better DNA. During Smart Hulk’s studies of Jennifer’s blood, he learns they share the same rare genetic factors that allow their blood to synthesize gamma radiation. This is how they both survived being exposed to lethal levels of gamma radiation. However, She-Hulk reveals that Jennifer’s DNA and blood are even better. It synthesizes the radiation differently, allowing Smart Hulk’s arm to heal fully. The implication is that She-Hulk has a better healing factor than Hulk in the MCU. There is no specific reason given for how or why this is the case. She-Hulk’s DNA is so powerful that Smart Hulk takes extreme precautionary measures to destroy any samples so that it does not fall into the wrong hands and create more MCU Hulks. In addition to helping heal Smart Hulk’s arm, She-Hulk’s DNA could be less lethal to others, making it easier for other Hulks to be created.
How Strong She-Hulk Is Compared To MCU’s Hulk
She-Hulk is nearly just as strong as Hulk based on what the MCU shows. Jennifer is a quick learner thanks to the major differences mentioned above, as they give her a leg up on Bruce in terms of controlling her powers and understanding the limits. She-Hulk goes toe-to-toe with Smart Hulk in a fight during She-Hulk episode 1. Even though both were holding back to some degree, She-Hulk has already mastered some of Hulk’s moves, such as the ground pound and thunderclap. She-Hulk viewers and Jennifer might momentarily believe that she is stronger than Hulk thanks to the initial results of their boulder throwing competition. However, Smart Hulk launching the biggest boulder around into the sky gives a tease of his true power. The extent of She-Hulk’s strength is not tested in the same way, as she does not feel the need to prove herself to Hulk. Ultimately, She-Hulk will have comparable strength to Hulk in the MCU as she begins to show off more of what she can do.
She-Hulk Can Break The Fourth Wall
Another massive difference between She-Hulk and Hulk in the MCU is Jennifer Walters’ ability to break the fourth wall. The Deadpool-style reality breaks are unique to Jennifer in She-Hulk, as Hulk even catches her talking to the audience at one point and becomes visibly confused. She-Hulk’s fourth wall breaking might seem like the show is copying Deadpool, but that is not the case. She-Hulk was breaking the fourth wall in the comics long before Deadpool did it and Ryan Reynolds helped bring that to the big screen. This is another example of how She-Hulk: Attorney At Law stays faithful to the source material, but it also gives her a fun narrative difference to Hulk. Jennifer knows that viewers want to learn about her origin, that she is in a TV show, and possibly even that she is part of the MCU franchise. Hulk does not have this ability, though.
New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law release on Thursdays on Disney+.