Movie Reviews

She-Hulk's Surprising Insult Cuts to the Heart of the Avengers

Having a sound legal mind did not stop She-Hulk from presenting one of the weakest possible arguments for why she suspected that Luke Cage had betrayed his fellow Heroes for Hire, insulting a significant segment of Avengers in the bargain. Jennifer Walters’ legal arguments typically carry just as much as weight as her superpowered punches but, in this case, she was woefully misguided.

After making her debut in Savage She-Hulk #1 by Stan Lee and John Buscema, it quickly became apparent that She-Hulk feels more comfortable in her green skin than Hulk does, mastering her superpower and transformation in a way that allows her to merge her superpowers with her day job. Despite being a large green mass of muscle in the style of Hulk (on account of a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner), she remains a cerebral lawyer. In addition to her sensibilities for criminal defense, she is a go-to legal counsel for her fellow superheroes. Her belief in the justice system is a critical character motivation, and is even approved of by the cosmic Living Tribunal.

Related: She-Hulk’s Official Cover Art Is a Gift to Marvel Cosplayers

Given the need to zealously advocate for her clients’ legal defense, She-Hulk’s narrow view of Luke Cage in 1997’s Heroes for Hire #12 by John Ostrander, Pascual Ferry, Jaime Mendoza, and Jon Babcock is incredibly surprising. Suspected of working with the villainous Master of the World, Luke Cage’s reputation is challenged, but when Iron Fist cuts in to defend him, She-Hulk replies, “He’s an ex-con. What do you expect?” Such a knee-jerk speculation on someone’s guilt, compounded by the belief that he or she would always remain on the wrong side of the law after one criminal act, upends core tenets of the US justice system. For a legal professional like Jennifer, it is fundamental to maintain that someone is innocent until proven guilty, to determine motive, and to push for rehabilitation and reintroduction into society wherever possible.

Worse still, Luke Cage was only jailed after being framed by an enemy, and was even experimented on in prison (gaining his powers), showing – in the dramatic fashion of superhero stories – how wrongheaded it is to assume someone’s guilt just because they went to prison, let alone to assume it again once they’re out. Making matters worse is that Scott Lang was present for this slip of the tongue. Ant-Man quickly points out that this label also applies to him, and it likewise applies to many of their fellow Avengers – like Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Iron Man, among others. Indeed, when Captain America first invited Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to join the team, they were seen as terrorists.

The modern day Jennifer Walters is far more conscious of the legal system’s failings and would likely argue vociferously against this ignorant assertion, showing just how much characters can change over time and between creative teams. For almost as long as the group has existed, the Avengers have welcomed in those who have fallen afoul of the law, and She-Hulk‘s comments don’t just go against this principle, but unfairly malign the characters of some of the world’s greatest heroes.

Next: She-Hulk Is Marvel’s Best Lawyer Thanks To One Case (Not Daredevil)

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