Will She-Hulk Smash Sexist Stereotypes? Or Slip Into Them?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email
different she-hulk drawings

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are probably psyched for the current line-up of movies and TV shows. Some of them have already hit the big screen, with Black Widow premiering last month alongside the trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (set to release next month). We’ve also had WandaVision on Disney+ since January, followed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldierand Loki in March and June, respectively.

But what I’m most curious about in Phase Four of the MCU is She-Hulk, premiering sometime next year.

The series has been described as a “half-hour legal comedy” by Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, and will follow the story of Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin. (Marvel fans know that Bruce, thanks to a massive injection of gamma radiation, becomes the Hulk when he’s angry. Or, at least, he used to.)

In the comics, Jennifer became the She-Hulk after receiving a blood transfusion from Bruce. Though unlike her cousin, she maintains her own mind when she turns into the large, powerful, green -hued version of herself. And when she’s not hulking out, she’s a lawyer specializing in cases involving superhumans.

What’s got me on the fence about the series is how they plan to make Jennifer Walters (played by 5’4” actress Tatiana Maslany) larger than life.

Recently on The Plugged In Show, we talked about “Fat Monica” from Friends and how the series triggered some poor body-image issues with its fat-shaming of the character. And while Friends certainly isn’t the first show to shove a conventionally “thin” person into a fat suit (looking at you, New Girl, How I Met Your Mother and Pretty Little Liars), its impact has been far-reaching and long-lasting.

Schmidt from New Girl, Hanna from Pretty Little Liars and Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother.

Emma Specter wrote for Vogue that Fat Monica taught her and other women that in order to be “desired,” they also had to be thin, setting them up for a lifetime of “deprivation and self-hatred, cattiness and pain.”

Which is why I’m so skeptical of She-Hulk.

Since this is a comedy, will there be a plethora of jokes about She-Hulk’s weight? Will people try to make light of sudden weight gain and loss? How many times will eating disorders come up? And will they cross over into other sexist humor surrounding women’s menstrual cycles or perhaps even whether a woman can have muscles and still be feminine?

These are legitimate questions. And if I’m being honest, as much as I personally love the MCU, I probably won’t watch it if the show delves into cheap, unfunny humor about women with different body types.

However, there is a small glimmer of hope for the series. Cast as the villainess, Titania, is Jameela Jamil of The Good Place.

Jamil is host of the popular podcast iWeigh, where she asks her guests what they weigh—not their weight in pounds, but rather how they measure what really matters to them in their lives. Now, I wouldn’t recommend the podcast due to its language and open discussions about sex, sexuality and genderism. However, Jamil is a strong advocate for body positivity. She has made a name for herself by calling out Hollywood for its perpetuation of negative body images and individual celebrities for their lack of empathy for those suffering from mental health disorders. And her presence on the series suggests that if writers and producers are aiming to make “fat jokes” or jokes about She-Hulk’s “time of the month,” she’ll shut that down as well.

We’ll have to wait until 2022 to know for sure what to expect from She-Hulk. But in the meantime, we’ll have plenty to keep us busy with upcoming series What If…?, Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel, as well as movies Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home and the aforementioned Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. And you can find family-friendly reviews for all of these titles right here at Plugged In.

Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

5 Responses

    1. -Good eye. The paragraph starting with “Jamil is host of the popular podcast iWeigh” does appear to repeat.

  1. -This article is useless, totally opposite of what should be plugged in standards and really makes no sense. Also, hypocritical liberal jamell is irrelevant and worst person to refer to. Maybe should put this under the guardian, cosmo, or some other more liberal style anti christian mag…

  2. -It’s been over a week since Plugged In posted this and they still haven’t updated to remove the repeated paragraph.

  3. -I seriously thought I was reading Buzzfeed or Bustle or Teen Vogue. Complaining about fat-shaming? Worrying about feminism being repped? Complaining about the 90s show Friends not being woke??? You all were discussing Fat Monica on a podcast??

    If Plugged In is no longer a conservative Christian source, that’s FINE, but I feel like you need to advertise that fact. You’re no longer going against the culture; you’re embracing it by pushing the same SJW feminist nonsense we can find literally everywhere else.

Comments are closed.