How is She-Hulk: Attorney at Law different from the comics?
Some updates have been made as the character jumps into live-action.
Four decades on from her comic book debut, Marvel's She-Hulk is finally getting a live-action adaptation, which takes the form of a nine-part Disney Plus series streaming now.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been known for its comedy, but She-Hulk: Attorney at Law takes things one step further, effectively becoming the franchise's first fully-fledged sitcom.
That's quite appropriate for the character given her comic book storylines have often been light and quirky in tone, including plenty of fourth wall-breaking humour.
Overall, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a faithful translation of the character, but some changes have been made for her introduction to the MCU – read on for details.
Marvel's She-Hulk – Top changes from the comics
The most notable element of She-Hulk's story that has been changed for Attorney at Law is her origin, as had been widely reported prior to the show's premiere.
In the source material, Jennifer Walters gains super powers after an assassination attempt by the mob leaves her in vital need of a blood transfusion from a compatible donor.
Her cousin, Bruce Banner, is the only person on the scene who shares her blood type and so he volunteers, but this results in the extreme gamma radiation in his system being transferred to her.
As a result, Jen also develops a Hulk alter-ego, which emerges when the mobsters return for a second attempt at taking her life – needless to say, they get more than they bargained for.
In an interview with Gizmodo's io9, head writer Jessica Gao explained why they didn't go down this route for She-Hulk's MCU introduction on Disney Plus.
"First, the head honchos at Marvel specifically didn’t want it to be the mob hit," she began. "But for me, having watched this Bruce Banner through all the years and all the different MCU movies, it just felt like we saw him be really tortured by this.
"This was not a gift. He really saw it as a curse... So to me, it didn’t make sense for that guy to then willingly give this curse to somebody that he cares about. His cousin, who he really loves."
Gao added: "From a practical angle, we just needed to be able to start the origin story very quickly. I didn’t want to have to spend half an hour setting something up... If you do a mob hit, it’s like, ‘Well, then why? What happened?’ Let’s just get to the meat of everything.
"And also the nature of making it an accident takes a lot of the pressure off of the guilt that Bruce would feel having given this to Jennifer because, in the show, we really see how she struggles with it and how she also, like him, doesn’t really view it as a gift at first. So I think that would really change their dynamic if he was completely responsible."
In a recent retcon, the origins of both Hulks were linked to the Green Door, a metaphysical portal that connects to a hellish otherworld known as the Below-Place, where the souls of gamma mutated beings go after death.
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It is now said that Jen died after the mob hit, but was allowed to return – as a Hulk – by the One Below All, a powerful creature who presides over the Below-Place.
It's a heavy storyline explored over a lengthy ongoing Hulk comic, so it's no surprise that it isn't touched upon here – but given the high praise it has received, don't be surprised if the MCU incorporates some aspects of it down the line.
Admittedly, the She-Hulk cast is not particularly reflective of who the character associates herself with in the comic books.
Most notably, Jennifer Walters has a long history of teaming up with the Fantastic Four, who will make their formal MCU debut in a hotly anticipated new film currently scheduled for November 2024.
She-Hulk also has a strong friendship with fellow Marvel heroines Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman; the former already a major player in the Avengers films and the latter rumoured for a spot in Sony's adjacent shared universe.
In one of She-Hulk's most recent solo titles, her colleagues included Patsy Walker (aka Hellcat, played by Rachael Taylor in Jessica Jones), as well as paralegal Angie Huang, who possesses mysterious abilities of her own.
Attorney at Law's Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga) appears very much like an amalgamation of Patsy and Angie, albeit without the mystical powers – at least, as far as we know.
Most of She-Hulk's recent comic book storylines have revolved around her career, representing heroes and villains from across the Marvel Universe in legal battles.
Some of these cases have been more detailed than you might expect from a superhero comic, with comic book writer Charles Soule being a former lawyer himself and incorporating that expertise into his stories.
She-Hulk showrunner Gao took a different approach, acknowledging that legal drama was not her forte, which is why the courtroom scenes in the streaming series are relatively light on actual law.
"When I went in, it definitely skewed a lot more heavily towards Blonsky’s trial. In my original pitch, it was an actual trial and it spanned multiple episodes," said Gao in an interview with Variety.
"When we got into the writers’ room, inevitably things change as you’re developing the show and as you start writing. And one thing that we all realised very slowly was none of us are that adept at writing, you know, rousing trial scenes."
Clients of She-Hulk in the comic books include Starfox (recently portrayed by Harry Styles in the MCU), Captain America and Doctor Doom's son.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is available to stream on Disney Plus. New episodes are released on Thursdays. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.
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