She-Hulk and the Agents of SMH

SHE-HULK
© Disney

Recently I decided to take my five-year-old’s superhero TV experience beyond The Wonder Pets by starting with Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. After all, Rachel’s interview last year with Eliza Dushku about her role as She-Hulk had me intrigued about the Disney XD series. Finally, a female superhero on TV for my daughter to idolize, right? Wrong.

The Jen Walters you know is not the Jen Walters of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Rather than a lawyer, She-Hulk is now a Hollywood stunt-woman, as you can see when the character is introduced:

“When you’re a 6’5, indestructible, green-skinned woman, your career options are limited,” laments She-Hulk. In an interview with Comics Alliance, producer Cort Lane explains the change in her origin.

But with She-Hulk, being a lawyer wasn’t enough for us. We realized she needed to be such a kick-butt hero in her own way, and we know that she is in publishing, and she’s smart and in some ways more accustomed to the world and more accepted by the world than the other Hulks, so we were able to play that up and the idea of Hollywood stunt woman we thought was fun.

I would have loved to explain to my daughter that Jennifer Walters is a heroine with both brains and brawn, who knows how to expertly defend the innocent whether she’s arguing in a courtroom or punching a living planet in outer space. She-Hulk is now literally a “strong female character” and nothing more in Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. 

Determined to give this Jen Walters a chance, we watched a She-Hulk-centric episode together. I do admit to being a fan of the character’s design (hooray, correct body proportions!), but the hits just kept on coming. As “Galactus Goes Green” begins, She-Hulk squeals about a night on the town in Las Vegas. (In another episode, she expresses her excitement about a sale at the mall.) That’s not the Jen Walters I think of, but okay. Later in the episode, as Galactus shows up, Red Hulk tells her, “Better leave it to the big boys, Shulkie.”

Granted, Red Hulk is supposed to be un-likeable and an all-around jerk, but I had to wonder what sort of impression that makes on a five-year-old. My daughter turned to me and said, “She-Hulk wants to do something, right? But they won’t let her because the boys are stronger.” I felt like Hulk-smashing something myself.

So, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is not going to be for us.

She-Hulk has been a hot topic lately, thanks to the “Slut Hulk” interview last month that also reduced the character to little more than a male fantasy. I’m just glad that Charles Soule has been handling the character so well in her solo comic book series. In fact, he teased a new story arc later this year, where Jen “shows off [her] courtoom chops.” I have a hunch (thanks to some foreshadowing) that she might be facing Matt Murdock in a courtroom showdown. Now there’s a battle best suited for Jennifer Walters—not the “big boys.”

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Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.