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The 'She-Hulk' Finale's Retro Introduction Is Actually An Easter Egg Linking Back To The Character's Origins

by Kristy Anderson about a month ago in pop culture / superheroes
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You won't like her when she's angry.

Credit: Disney.

Throughout the series, She-Hulk: Attorney-At-Law was not afraid to go against the norm, making fun of itself, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. This is especially true in the show's first season finale, during which Jennifer Walters smashes the fourth wall and escapes into Marvel Studios in search of a better ending.

However, some fans might not know that the finale's opening sequence, which parodies the 1978-1982 TV series The Incredible Hulk, is also a self-referential Easter Egg regarding the reason the character of She-Hulk was created in the first place.

Revisiting 'The Incredible Hulk'

As mentioned earlier, She-Hulk: Attorney-At-Law's finale intro sequence was an homage to the opening credits of the TV series The Incredible Hulk, which aired on CBS for five seasons between 1978 and 1982.

The series starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner, and Lou Ferrigno as his anger induced alter-ego, The Hulk. The series made a number of changes to the comic, including changing the lead character's name from Bruce to David (Series creator Kenneth Johnson disliked the alliterative names common in Marvel Comics, and CBS executives feared the name Bruce was too 'Gay'), and making him a Doctor of Medical research rather than a Physicist. The nature of the accident that created The Hulk was changed from an atomic bomb test gone awry, to a medical experiment Banner conducted on himself. The comic's regular supporting cast was also dropped in favour of Jack McGee, a reporter who pursues The Hulk across the country, wrongly believing the creature responsible for the murder of Banner's lab partner.

Despite the changes, The Incredible Hulk was a hit with both comic fans and more casual viewers. While the show's success was pleasing for Marvel, increasing their chances of selling TV rights to other characters in their catalogue, it also presented a potential problem for the company.

Character Rights

When the Television licensing rights to The Incredible Hulk were sold to Universal TV, a clause in the contract stipulated that the rights to any character created exclusively for the show belonged to Universal/CBS rather than Marvel. The company itself did not see a problem with this initially, brushing off the clause as protecting the network's rights to it's one major original character at the time, journalist Jack McGee, played by Jack Colvin. However, The Hulk's creator, the much loved Stan Lee, soon spotted a potential issue.

At the time The Incredible Hulk began airing, the main brain behind the new show, Kenneth Johnson, had recently found success with the three-season run of The Bionic Woman, a spin-off of his earlier series The Six Million Dollar Man. Jaime Sommers, the leading lady of The Bionic Woman, is basically a female copy of The Six Million Dollar Man's hero, Steve Austin. Both were saved after near fatal accidents through the use of Bionic implants that grant them superhuman abilities.

Lee feared that the success of The Bionic Woman would inspire Johnson to create a female Hulk for The Incredible Hulk TV series. If he had done so, this character would have been owned by Universal TV, not Marvel Comics. The solution, Lee decided, was to beat Johnson to the punch.

She-Hulk is Born!

Credit: Marvel Comics

In response to his own fears regarding the situation, and the growing concerns of Marvel Executives catching on to the potential problem, Lee created She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters is a young Criminal Defense Lawyer, as well as the cousin and childhood confidante of Bruce Banner. While visiting Jen in the hope of explaining his absence from her life since becoming The Hulk, Bruce is horrified to witness his cousin being gunned down by Mobsters, seeking revenge on Jen's Father, a local Sheriff, for sending their associates to jail. To keep Jen alive long enough to get her to a Hospital, Bruce gives her a transfusion of his own blood. The Transfusion grants Jen Hulk-like powers similar to Bruce's, however, unlike Bruce, Jen retains full control during her transformations.

This story made it's debut in February 1980, as the first issue of The Savage She-Hulk. The book was expected to have a short run by Marvel executives, who initially viewed it as existing simply to establish the rights to a female Hulk character as belonging to Marvel rather than Universal TV. However, She-Hulk proved to be popular with readers, starring in many more solo books over the years, as well as many team-up adventures, becoming a mainstay of the Marvel Universe, and likely destined to become one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well.

The She-Hulk finale's intro, parodying the show that became the very reason Jen Walters exists, brings the character full circle. We can't wait to see what else the MCU has in store for her.

pop culturesuperheroes

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Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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