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How does She-Hulk get her powers?

The first episode of She-Hulk is finally here, here's how the Hulk's cousin got her powers, how they differ from the comics, and why Marvel changed them

Marvel movies in order: She-Hulk

The MCU has got a new incredible hero, the indestructible She-Hulk. She’s smart, she’s strong, and she breaks the fourth wall, but who is this new gamma-powered badass? How does She-Hulk get her powers? And how does her origin deviate from the comic books? Don’t worry; we’re here to give you a crash course.

She-Hulk, or to use her real name, Jen (Tatiana Maslany), is an LA lawyer and the cousin of Bruce Banner. Stan Lee created She-Hulk in a somewhat cynical attempt to cash in on the popularity of The Bionic Woman TV series. Still, she quickly became an incredibly popular character with Marvel fans.

Jen’s popularity has seen her lead her own series of comicbooks, she’s joined the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and she’s even aware that she’s in a comicbook (Editor: Yes, the Disney Plus version knows as well). Now though, She-Hulk’s got her own Marvel series, so we thought it’d be fun to explore how She-Hulk got her powers, explain how her origin differs from the comics, and explain why Marvel changed things.

How does She-Hulk get her powers?

She-Hulk gets her powers after coming into contact with her cousin Bruce’s irradiated blood. The pair are on a road trip when they’re attacked by a Sakarrian spaceship. In the accident, both Jen and Bruce – who’s wearing a device that prevents him from hulking out – are badly hurt.

As Jen pulls Bruce from the car, she touches one of his wounds with her own cut hands and is immediately affected by his irradiated blood. Jen blacks out as she transforms and wakes up in the middle of nowhere.

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After stumbling into a bar and nearly smashing some boorish men, Bruce takes Jen to his Mexican lab in the middle of nowhere to help her control her Hulk form.

There Bruce informs Jen that she shares similar genetic traits to himself, and she can synthesise gamma radiation in ways normal humans can’t. One thing that separates Jen from her cousin, she can completely control her transformations.

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How is She Hulk’s origin different to the comics?

In the comic books, She-Hulk’s origin is a little more theatrical. Rather than being in a car crash, Jen was attacked by the mob boss Nicholas Trask during an attempted hit on her father – an LA sheriff investigating Trask.

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Jen was seriously wounded in the attack and needed a blood transfusion to save her life. Unfortunately, no one was a compatible blood type, except for her cousin Bruce who just so happened to be visiting that day.

Bruce agreed to the transfusion and saved Jen’s life, but the operation had unforeseen side effects. Bruce’s irradiated blood caused Jen to transform into a green-skinned giant whenever she got angry. Eventually, Jen gained control of her transformations and became the indestructible She-Hulk.


Why did Marvel change She-Hulk’s origin?

Marvel changed She-Hulk’s origin because they didn’t think the gangster shoot-out version would work for the MCU. At a roundtable attended by The Digital Fix, She-Hulk writer Jessica Gao explained the change.

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“Marvel top brass also didn’t really want to do the assassination attempt by a mob,” Gao said. “It just felt like it didn’t really keep in the tone of everything that we were making. And also because we wanted to focus on Jen and her current journey, we needed something that was very quick that didn’t require a tonne of backstory. We didn’t want to spend half an hour setting up a backstory just so you can see an accident happen. Like, let’s jump to where the action is and then let’s move on.”

If you love the MCU, check out our guide to Phase 5, and if you want to know more about the series’ future, we have an article all about Secret Wars.