She-Hulk has always occupied an intriguing space in the Marvel Universe. Initially, she was created to get ahead of a potential rights dispute. Stan Lee feared CBS’ Incredible Hulk series would capitalize on its late-’70s success by creating a female version of the hero, so Lee created a She-Hulk of his own to keep the rights. It ended up being a brilliant idea, as Jennifer Walters grew into a character with a unique voice and loyal fanbase.
The She-Hulk of Marvel’s cinematic universe has the potential to serve a similar purpose. With the rights to Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk tied up in a deal with Universal, Marvel is currently unable to feature the jolly green giant in his own film. After a decade of supporting roles, asking for a solo Hulk adventure feels like a fool’s errand. That’s where She-Hulk comes in.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law introduced the character anew with the help of Tatiana Maslany and some hit-or-miss CGI. The nine-part sitcom opened the door to the Hulk’s potential successor: if not Jennifer, then the estranged son Bruce pulled out of thin air in the She-Hulk finale. The series was not universally beloved, but it made it clear Jennifer Walters could go where Bruce Banner could not. Unlike her older cousin, she’s not limited to supporting turns in Avengers films. Having already starred in her own series, she could perhaps lead a future movie.
Unfortunately, Marvel seems skittish about featuring She-Hulk again any time soon, and Maslany has no idea whether She-Hulk will be treated to a series renewal. When asked on an episode of Codenames LIVE! - The New Class, the actress didn’t have much hope. “I think we blew our budget [on Season 1] and Disney was like, ‘No thanks,’” Maslany joked.
She-Hulk’s per-episode budget was admittedly alarming. According to Variety, just one episode of the series cost around $25 million, significantly surpassing most prestige shows. Of course, She-Hulk was created under difficult conditions, as a handful of its characters were constructed entirely through VFX. Shoddy script development led to the season being restructured, which only put more pressure on an already overworked VFX team. It was just one of many Marvel projects that suffered under the franchise’s compressed production schedule, but She-Hulk seems to be slipping through the cracks as Marvel regroups.
Marvel is clearly struggling to balance its movie output with its streaming projects. Disney+ shows like Moon Knight have expanded the scope of the MCU and introduced compelling heroes, but they’re also contributing to a phase that feels disjointed. There’s little connective tissue between the movies and the shows, even ones with massive ramifications like Loki. Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel is the only new hero with a role in the larger MCU so far, despite the staggering amount of potential Avengers floating around the multiverse.
Marvel’s issues don’t begin and end on the streaming front, of course, but it’s on Disney+ where they feel the most apparent. She-Hulk doesn’t have to get a second season — nor should it, given how expensive its first was — but it’s frustrating to watch the character bide her time on the sidelines. The same could be said for Moon Knight, Scarlet Scarab, or that version of Vision that’s apparently circling the globe in search of the meaning of life.
Marvel has introduced so many intriguing new characters, yet seems to have no intention of doing anything with them. Maybe they’ll find a place on the timeline once Marvel regains its footing, but a few years is a lifetime by pop culture standards. The sooner characters like She-Hulk get a purpose in the MCU, the better.