Is She-Hulk opening a new path on how women are perceived in the media?


“She-Hulk: Attorney At Law” is a 9 episode series from the MCU, Marvel Cinematic Universe that is currently available on Disney+. It’s a part of Phase 4, and the first episode was released on August 18, 2022. At the moment of this article, it is producing an episode every Thursday until October 13th. It has Jenefer Walters, also known as She-Hulk, as the lead of the series. This being said a lot of people have had problems with the series. 


Most movies/series with women being the star/lead get trashed on mostly because there is a woman as the lead/director. Some examples are Black Widow, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, and many more. Of course these movies have their faults and problems as most movies do, but if you notice where most of the hate lies you can tell a clear difference. If the lead was a male instead there’s a higher chance that it would skyrocket in fame, on the other hand if the lead was a woman instead there’s a lower chance of success. 


Even if both movies indulge in the same theme/topic in the same manner. Do you see the hypocrisy? A movie’s problems are more likely to be sweeped under the rug if both the director and leads are males. If the lead is a woman then people will nitpick any and everything that they can see, bringing its “value” down. Not considering the fact that there are a lot of young girls that will finally have a strong role model that they can look up to, in a way that boys can. Young boys have so many superheroes that they look up to, and that’s amazing! It’s extremely important to have good role models when you are growing up. But, where is that same representation for young girls?


She-Hulk is quite literally busting down walls so other shows/movies with female leads can actually star women as strong and not like some damsel in distress. In an interview with Maddison Wilson, David Pugh and Becky Lant at Mountain View, Wilson states the following after being asked if she thinks She-Hulk and other female superheroes finally being the leads of shows and movies will have a positive impact on young people or a negative impact: “I definitely think any representation that is outside of the norm has a positive impact on all people. Whether it’s female superheroes or whether it is any minority group of any kind that we need that representation more. So yes, I definitely think it has a positive impact.”. Pugh replied with the following: “I think it’ll have a positive impact on women. I mean, when I was a kid growing up there was a show called Police Women, you know Angie Dickinson played the hotshot, well preserved, well contained, emotionally contained cop. You know, a lot of people liked it. I think this thing you’re talking about will gain a lot of respect for young people.”


It is clear that a good handful of adults view giving young people a chance to finally view strong female leads as what they are meant to be can open various gateways. Another important statement made by Pugh is: “It shows them that they can become anything they want to become. As long as they do it with care and sensitivity and professionalism” and “..I think women need to have that inspiration, that dream come true type thing. Something to live for, something to shoot for. They can attain that level, if they want to. I think it’s a good role model that can move other areas of life as well.” This show will open, and for all we know has started opening pathways for other companies to star women as how they are. Wilson expresses something similar in her interview: “You know even when females are the lead they are frequently put into very, like menial, very romanticized versions of what a female is. So I think taking any lead out of that norm is only positive, and I do think that female superheroes being depicted with more of a rounded view is always going to be good.” This type of representation is very important but not used/represented as much as it should. 


In the first episode, Jenefer Walters says something intriguing to the Hulk. He tells her, “The triggers are anger and fear.”, and Jenefer says “Those are like the baseline of any woman just existing.” While this may not seem like much to most, it is the inevitable truth for a lot of people. Women are in a constant state of danger and fear, and this is not being stated for pity points or anything of the sorts. I am stating this so you can see how real this is and it’s not just an “exaggeration.” In episode 5, Jenefer Walters says a pro that she has now that she’s She-Hulk: “…Being able to walk home with headphones on without being afraid”. Her friend Nikki replies with: “Every woman’s dream”. If you think this is an exaggeration you are very wrong. Look at the news on how many girls and women have been killed, kidnapped and assaulted. It is a large quantity. As a woman you are taught from birth to be scared of men, to not wear anything revealing while walking alone, to be aware of your surroundings, to not let your guard down. But at the same time to be obedient, silent, quiet, cute, sweet, nice, not emotional. 


If you ask any women in your life there’s a high chance that they would tell you that in their early childhood and teen years they were told to sit pretty, smile and nod at whatever someone said to you. Even if you already know the information being “explained” to you. She-Hulk puts that struggle most women and girls face on a daily basis in your face so you can see it, so you can digest what actually happens. It doesn’t exaggerate it in a “Oh look at me in misery that happens everyday” and it doesn’t undermine it making it seem unimportant and mundane. It shows it for what it is and how most women deal with it. 


In the first episode it perfectly puts into words what most women go through on a daily basis. The Hulk states: “…we have to make sure of your ability to tolerate the stress and regulate your emotions, especially your anger”. To this she responds with: “Here’s the thing Bruce. I’m great at containing my anger. I do it all the time. When I’m catcalled in the street, when incompetent men explain my own area of expertiese to me. I do it pretty much every day because if I don’t I will get called emotional, or difficult, or might just literally get murdered. So I’m an expert at controlling my anger because I do it infinitely more than you”. These things aren’t talked about a lot, if at all in show/movies. You may see a glimpse of it here and there but it is never spoken of or addressed directly, which is what we need


All that Jenifer stated was true. It is a sad inevitable truth that most women go through. Wilson gives us confirmation of this: “I do think that’s very true of women in general. So that’s what I was talking about a little bit, where they… you know about the female experience is that those types of things happen to women a lot and you do have to contain how you actually feel. And so I do think that when she said that it makes a lot of sense.” Even Pugh agrees with the previous statement made by Jenefer, “…I think, in some ways it elevates women in their professionalism, they’re competent in all areas of life and all areas of expertise. But I don’t think they have to overcompensate, overstate the matter.”


In an interview with Becky Lant she also agrees with the statement that Jenefer made. Lant states: “I think she was completely right, because as women we do have to watch what we do. Because it can escalate a situation, but I worked in business for a long time and to have a voice and to be able to have people take what you have to say with volatility but also even just to consider it. You have to be less emotional, you have to be really articulate, you have to be not differential, at all, but you have to know how to navigate a room, and read other people. Kind of…navigate and take into consideration other people’s egos. That is for the most part, so yeah…She’s completely right, women have to do it all the time.” Lant uses her own experiences as a woman working in business as well to further explain how true and real what Jenefer Walters said was. 


We have two women who have had their fair share of experiences share that what Jen said was true. It’s a sad truth that most women go through on a daily basis. It is something that has been shoved out the way by many people saying that women are too “emotional” or “dramatic” when they have been describing everything in perfect detail. The fact that they get sexualized for anything they do is also a huge problem. Lant puts this into words, almost perfectly: “I don’t like the sexualization of her as She-Hulk. I mean, I know you need to be bigger, you need to be everything but she’s like that. I mean she’s a characterization of a character you see in so many comic books that are mostly written by men where they’ve sexualized the women. Her figure for example, is so Barbie-like. She’s got this very generous chest, and she has the small waist, and she’s very hourglass. And she has muscles and everything, and that’s great! Cuz they rip their clothes off, and she has a tank top and all that. That’s fine, showing skin is fine if she’s comfortable in it obviously. But I still feel like that’s created, from a male focus and I don’t know if it’s so she’s more accepting of the audience. You know, a male audience is still a large number of who’s watching action films. But I didn’t like how they have this, in my mind, this view of her. Which was just this giant, kinda barbie…And making her hair long and just, you know…I didn’t like that part of it.” She also later states: “It’s like we have to make her ultra uber sexy, sexy in the way of a male point of view. And of what our society says this is what a powerful woman should be because a lot of times they say use your sexuality to get where you want…”


It’s the sad reality that a lot of women in business and in any job suffer. She-Hulk gives a great representation of how it happens. It basically shows how the male point of view views most women and how it wishes women to look like. It’s wrong and can give the wrong idea to kids and teens. They should see all types of women, all types of figures and ethnicities. Not just an hourglass figure with some muscles. She-Hulk for the most part is supposed to look like a Hulk. Buff, strong, big, scary, and intimidating. She’s kinda strong, pretty tall, not scary or intimidating. It’s a little disappointing that she isn’t as noticeably strong as other heros. You merely know she’s strong because she’s a hulk, not because you can see her muscles. 


We must realize that what women go through is something they should not go through. This series is shoving these problems in your face one after another. It’s not gently handing it to you for you to take some time to digest a little and move on with your life. That is not what we need as representation. We need a show that shows other people what women go through. The sad, inevitable, unfortunate truth. Not some pity factor that makes others think of us as weak or over-dramatic. Something that shows that women are and have been strong for centuries. Shows the issues and injustices we have been served and have had to deal with. Shows that we are not the “weaker sex”. Grabs mens ear and makes them listen and hear the struggle that has been going on for centuries, with no end in sight. She-Hulk will hopefully give us that push that we as a society need to show and represent both those issues and women the strong people that they are.