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Let She-Hulk Be Huge

Released last week, the first trailer for ‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ has been an easy target for ridicule. But the clip’s shoddy-looking CGI isn’t the main issue here …

There is one perfect moment in the trailer for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, a less-than-two-minute-long teaser that was viewed over 78 million times in the 24 hours after it dropped last week. Jennifer Walters—titular attorney at law, intermittent She-Hulk—is not quite like her green cousin, Bruce Banner. Where he becomes an angry, unrecognizable Neanderthal when he Hulks out, she transforms into a more powerful, confident, self-possessed, and greener version of her human self. And so, when Jennifer goes on a Bumble date with a petite man who most certainly smells what the She-Hulk is cooking, we see her escort said man back to her apartment, quite literally sweep him off his feet, and carry him toward her bedroom for what we can only assume is her own special version of the Hulk smash.

Excluding that one man-toting moment, however, the She-Hulk trailer was not warmly received. The low-budget-looking CGI was rife for jokes—for example, one could say that the green hue of Tatiana Maslany’s She-Hulk looked more like the Jolly Green Giant tore through an Ann Taylor Loft Memorial Day sale than like Jennifer Walters got juiced up with beefy, beefy gamma radiation. And all of those jokes were mostly fair and accurate—but the problem with this early trailer wasn’t a matter of which shade of green Marvel went with. The problem was a matter of size. Stay with me here …

What if, when She-Hulk carried off that short king, she was even bigger? What if she was huge? What if she was jacked beyond comprehension? Because, sure, sometimes superpowers are the newfound confidence we discover along the way, but most of the time—when you’re a Hulk, at least—they’re the ability to pile-drive your giant fist through a skyscraper like a spoon through pudding, or crack a villain’s skull between your titanic thighs, or, Thor-willing, yeet an Asgardian into the multiverse or whatever.

But the She-Hulk we meet in this first trailer is decidedly … non-hulking. Her lean biceps could absolutely carry her through an advanced vinyasa flow with ease, and her ass, as noted by her non-Hulk friends, does indeed look fantastic. But neither of those features are rippling with that shredded Hulk-y sinew we’ve grown accustomed to from Cousin Bruce—and I’m concerned that’s more of an editorial choice than an issue with timing. Because the CGI is a mess right now, sure, but there are plenty of reasons the visual effects in this trailer may not have been Marvel-ready on drop day; namely that Disney+ needed to have these tight 90 seconds ready for upfronts even if the special effects were still a little, ahem, matte.

But instant reactions are not a place for nuance, especially not on Twitter. And so, the immediate response to the She-Hulk trailer was some combination of “hell yeah, MCU Ally McBeal,” but also, “Why does she look like that, mommy? Sorry. Mommy? Sorry, where is mommy?” The latter response is nothing against Tatiana Maslany, who is An Act-or if ever there was one (or, sometimes, a dozen), nor the VFX artists who are surely working overtime to make Maslany green all over in nine half-hour episodes. No, as always, this is on the suits:

After fans balked at She-Hulk debuting with ankles so slender they could make Amy March weep with jealousy, Sean Ruecroft, a VFX artist who worked on Avengers: Infinity War and Moon Knight, tweeted that he allegedly worked for the company that did VFX for She-Hulk, and apparently, “she was bigger early on, but the notes kept saying to ‘make her smaller.’” To which, I ask: Can we not have nice things, Marvel? Can we not have big, huge, hulking things? Have we learned nothing from the success of Encanto’s buff and beefy queen Luisa, whom Disney also repeatedly tried to make smaller, against her character designer’s wishes. (Ominously, Ruecroft’s entire Twitter account has since been wiped from the internet.)

What exactly was Marvel thinking? That we won’t have the hots for She-Hulk if she has the body of a particularly veiny freight train? That we will be attracted to She-Hulk if she is simply a giant series of meatballs strapped together with Elphaba body paint, just like her cousin—who, for the record, is as hulking and veiny as ever in the very same trailer? And, listen, I get it: There is plenty of canonical precedent for She-Hulk to not be Incredible Hulk–sized. She’s a completely autonomous character who gains her powers after getting a blood transfusion from her cousin, which generally means that her gamma radiation exposure isn’t quite as potent as the Hulk’s …

But that’s not why Disney+’s She-Hulk thus far looks like a lean, green, Orange Theory–attending machine, and we all know it. I’m sorry, Marvel is trying to tell me that when Jennifer Walters transforms into She-Hulk, she just … becomes 6-foot-7? A slender, lightly muscled 6 feet and 7 inches?! That’s a reasonable, if mildly notable height for a person to be—the guy who won The Bachelorette last season was that tall! That’s a height that can uncomfortably ride in coach. I DON’T WANT MY SHE-HULK TO PHYSICALLY BE ABLE TO FLY SPIRIT AIRLINES TO FORT LAUDERDALE! Let horny superheroes be huge, and let us be horny for huge superheroes—even the lady ones! Create the world you (I) want to live in, Marvel.

Speaking of Marvel, Kevin Feige has previously said that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is based on John Byrne’s take on the character, when She-Hulk’s leaner physique was, indeed, canon. But to the people clinging to the comic accuracy of this design, I say: There will always be a historic precedent for keeping women (and Hulk-women) small; a reason to prevent them from taking up more space, or being large enough to spin an adult man over their heads like pizza dough. There’s always a reason not to give a female character traps like the Himalayas, or a waist that doesn’t taper into a perfect Dorito shape. And those reasons are hardly ever good or just. They’re just what’s always been done.

You know what’s never been done? A 30-minute legal drama about a female superhero with the general shape and sex appeal of a brand-new Range Rover. She-Hulk is an opportunity to finally couple a Marvel superhero who is roughly the size of a barge with a Marvel superhero who fucks. And I can’t help but feel that we’re allowing that opportunity to slip through our human-sized fingers. Keeping She-Hulk svelte and non-bulging isn’t inaccurate, but it’s also far less interesting than leaning into the fact that Jennifer Walters is a woman who gains confidence as she grows larger. She-Hulk can still be all the things she’s supposed to be as a character—funny, sexy, fourth-wall-breaking—while also being built like an Airstream bearing the weight of a hydraulic press. Listen, I’m going to watch She-Hulk: Attorney at Law one way or another, but it’s not lost on me that even in Hulk-dom, an hourglass is the only acceptable silhouette for a lady. I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask for Hulks with Hulk-bodies, and allowing canonically horny women to be canonically huge.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is more than three months away from being released, so it’s still possible for the Comic Sans CGI we got in the trailer to yield a net positive here. Because if there’s one thing we learned from the time Paramount debuted Sonic the Hedgehog with a full set of human chompers to the horror of the entire world wide web, it’s that bullying works. After pushing the release date for a redesign, Sonic returned looking notably more like a cartoon hedgehog and less like a sleep paralysis demon. And personally, I would wait six more months if it meant getting a She-Hulk with delts like a pack of sausages (and non-toxic working conditions for the VFX artists who create the sausages). Marvel has to go back in and clean this mess up a little anyway, so why not turn She-Hulk into something more than just a tall superhero? Why not make her huge?