She-Hulk: The Hero We Need in 2019

She-Hulk: The Hero We Need in 2019

With the Women’s Marches, the #MeToo movement, and the important conversations we’ve been seeing recently about sexual assault and consent.Women have certainly made their voices heard. And in the current political climate, not only is anger—and even rage—from women understandable, it can serve as a catalyst for real change when funneled into productive action. Indeed,

With the Women’s Marches, the #MeToo movement, and the important conversations we’ve been seeing recently about sexual assault and consent.Women have certainly made their voices heard. And in the current political climate, not only is angerand even ragefrom women understandable, it can serve as a catalyst for real change when funneled into productive action.

Indeed, writers and journalists have had quite a bit to say this year about the power of women’s rage. Bitch Media ran a series recently on women’s rage, and changed the name of its newsletter to The Rage. And books like Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpowers and Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, have been receiving significant recognition this year.

So it would seem that women this year are in need of a hero who represents what they’ve been feeling and experiencing. And She-Hulk is just that hero! Yes, she is at times a green rage monster, but she channels that rage productively and uses it to fight villains and champion the underserved. And it’s not only through her smashing that she uses her rage in constructive ways. As a defense attorney, Jennifer Walters stands up for the victims of the powerful and corrupt, and for people who may not always be popular in the public eye, but who nonetheless deserve to have their stories heard. Let’s explore a little more deeply the reasons why She-Hulk is the perfect hero for 2019.

Righteous Rage

Controlling her rage is the primary thread that runs through the widely varied storylines Jennifer has been a part of. Trying to keep a lid on her emotions is sometimes a challenge for her, and a source of shame. Yet when she embraces her ragewhen she embraces She-Hulkshe is able to become a highly impressive hero. Indeed, Jennifer realizes this relatively early in her history. After struggling for some time to keep her anger in check so as not to transform into She-Hulk, she actually decides to take on the She-Hulk form voluntarily because she likes the sense of confidence it gives her. And this is a theme that recurs for Jennifer. More recently, in Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, and Jeff Dekal’s She-Hulk run , we see her struggling with the rage she feels as a result of the events of Civil War II. This is the theme that propels much of the story arc. But again, while she feels uneasy about her emotions, she ultimately uses her powers in positive ways.

Of course, there is a lesson here for all of us. Denying how we feel, giving into the social pressure often placed on women to be agreeable, prevents us from realizing our true potential. And on a larger scale, it prevents real change from happening. Righteous anger has been the fuel for countless social justice movements historically.

Of course, there is a lesson here for all of us. Denying how we feel, giving into the social pressure often placed on women to be agreeable, prevents us from realizing our true potential. And on a larger scale, it prevents real change from happening. Righteous anger has been the fuel for countless social justice movements historically.

To drive the point home, it’s worth stating again that She-Hulk doesn’t just blindly smash things, though that is sometimes the way she’s perceived. When she rages out, she does so systematically (for the most part). We see this during her time as an Avenger at numerous points throughout her history (she first becomes a member in Avengers #221 by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, Bob Hall, and Brett Breeding) and during her work with the Fantastic Four (she joins the team during  Marvel Super Hero Secret Wars by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and John Beatty). She fights all kinds of formidable villains. Like Thanos. And Titania. And the amazingly named Doctor Bong (if you’re curious, he’s a Howard the Duck villain…of course). So it’s rage informed by a desire to fight for good.

Lawyer for Justice

As mentioned, it’s not just through her punching and smashing that Jennifer makes good use of her anger. As a defense attorney, she often gives a voice to those who need it. She’s not an ambulance chaser, and she doesn’t take cases for publicity. She sincerely wants to use her legal expertise to fight for what she believes is right.

For example, she defends Speedball, who is seen by many as the one who lit the fuse of the events of Civil War. Speedball and his team, the New Warriors, try to take down a group of supervillains for their reality show. They’re insufficiently prepared, however, and their action results in the death of 612 civilians, including 60 children. All of the New Warriors are killed, as well, except for Speedball. So when Jennifer decides to be his defense attorney, she’s taking a big risk. He’s highly unpopular with the public. But Jennifer sees him as a young person who wanted to do something good but just went about it in a misguided way. She believes he deserves a second chance, so she puts her reputation on the line to defend him.

Similarly, also during Civil War, while Jennifer decides to register under the Superhero Registration Act, she provides legal services to characters who choose not to register, understanding that they’re not just lawless vigilantes. She realizes that they’re good people who have legitimate fears about registering, like protecting the safety of their families or ensuring that they’re able to continue living their lives as civilians when they’re not fighting villains.

Jennifer Walters is a fascinating character. She has been forced by her circumstances to learn to accept all of herself, and to channel the qualities she once disliked about herself—namely her anger—into proactive actions that lead to real change.

These are both examples of times where Jennifer sees injustice, or a system that’s not doing its job properly, and channels her frustration with the situation in a positive way.

Everyday Life

It’s safe to say She-Hulk makes a lot of grand gestures, both in her legal career and in her superheroing. But she channels her anger in positive ways during life’s small moments, too (at least, moments that are as small as we could expect with a larger than life character like She-Hulk). For example, during Civil War II, when a jury finds Hawkeye not guilty of (temporarily) killing her cousin Bruce Banner, she doesn’t retaliate. She’s furious, and grapples with a lot of difficult, personal issues surrounding Bruce’s death. With her powers, and given the level of anger she experiences, it would have been very easy for her to choose to retaliate in a violent way, but she doesn’t do it. She works through her grief. Though Jennifer has had her explosive moments over the course of her history in the Marvel Universe, she has grown into a character who is actually quite introspective, examines her feelings, and does her best to make positive decisions.

Jennifer Walters is a fascinating character. She has been forced by her circumstances to learn to accept all of herself, and to channel the qualities she once disliked about herself—namely her anger—into proactive actions that lead to real change. For this reason, she’s the perfect hero for 2019.

1 comment
Sarah Cooke
CONTRIBUTOR
PROFILE

Posts Carousel

Latest Posts

Most Commented

Featured Videos