In one of cricket’s greatest ever put-downs, former England bowler Jimmy Ormond answered criticism concerning his physique in devastating style. After walking out to bat against Australia and facing a barrage of abuse by Mark Waugh (the brother of Aussie captain Steve Waugh), novice Ormond has the presence of mind to remark, ‘you may be right, but at least I am the best player in my own family’.
This story comes to mind as we ponder Marvel’s greatest enigma The Incredible Hulk, who for all his recent trials could always claim to at least be the most ferocious superhero to emerge from his own gene pool. Not even this is likely to offer consolation in the future, however, with a distant relative of Bruce Banner set to steal the Hulk’s limelight and become a regular feature of Marvel’s comic book and cinematic universe.
In many ways, Marvel’s Incredible Hulk could be described as the forgotten man of the brand’s cinematic universe. While this larger than life character has the presence and back-story to dominate any standalone film, a number of failed movie vehicles, rights issues and the dysfunctional dynamic between the Hulk and his alter-ego Bruce Banner have held back is ascent into stardom. Unfortunately, this means that Hulk has had to settle into a marginal role that is distinguished by brief but exciting cameos.
Incredibly, Bruce Banner’s green alter-ego may soon be being outshone by his own cousin. She Hulk (Jennifer Walters) is one of several characters who will grace the small screen soon, as part of the ongoing relationship between Marvel and Netflix. Along with Cloak and Dagger, Bullseye and Elektra, She Hulk will appear in new series that charts the fall-out from the hit show The Defenders. So while our male green giant may have a cult following and the hugely popular Hulk slot game, it is the female alternative who will soon be dominating television screens.
She Hulk character emerged in 1980, after the apparently-normal Walters received a blood transfusion from her cousin following a life-threatening accident. As a result of this she has a similar (if slightly less ferocious) alter-ego, although the dynamics between these two personalities are far more harmonious than those afflicting Banner and the Hulk. Her ascent into a mainstream television role not only highlights Marvel’s desire to popularise a new generation of new and diverse characters, but it also draws the plight of the original Hulk into sharper focus.
Of course, the Hulk will always retain a cult following, while the performances of newcomer Mark Ruffalo in the recent Avenger films have triggered hope that we can will see a standalone Hulk movie in the future. For now, however, it appears as though our favourite film giant must be content with a place on the sidelines in an ever-expanding cinematic realm, while also fighting off competition from his own flesh and blood.
In fact, close your eyes and you can almost see Hulk vs. She Hulk as a major motion picture in the not so distant future.