She-Hulk, Tatiana Maslany And Marvel’s Cowardice In Casting

“The MCU made a world where the multiverse bends to the whims of a child. But a woman with the strength to rival armies has the muscle mass of Kermit’s right arm and if that’s not an act of cowardice, I don’t know what is.”

We need to talk about #SheHulk.

Yesterday we got our first proper look at Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, and suffice to say, neither internet nor I were happy with what we saw.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

The trailer simultaneously gave us not only too much but also nothing to sink our teeth into in its minute and 48-second runtime. We see Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters running around trying to live a life of obscurity and get thrust into the limelight (get it because she’s green). So we already know what the conflict for the series will be, yay, I guess. But beyond just knowing what’s to come, we get a good look at her She-Hulk form, and I’m sad to say it ain’t that good.

Tatiana Maslany is an actor with more chops than a butcher shop, but chops alone do not make a character. No matter how effortlessly she can play multiple characters, she cannot grow a foot taller and put on the bulk needed to portray someone like  She-Hulk, which is precisely what she would need to do if she were even attempting to get close to Jennifer Walters’ comic book physicality. In the Marvel Comics, even before becoming everyone’s favourite jade-coloured Juris doctor, Jennifer is a statuesque 5’10. After her transformation, she shoots up like a sprout becoming a towering 6’7 coming in at a sizable 700 pounds. 

Maslany’s Jennifer, on the other hand, looks more like an entry-level attempt at an Elphaba cosplay. Something many Twitter users not only pick up on but felt compelled to call out.

Others are drawing comparisons to Fiona, which in my opinion, is a little disrespectful. Princess Fiona didn’t walk away from her white womanhood and embrace a life of thickness and perpetual pine-hued skin for everyone to forget that she could and would throw down when needed.

Many people had a lot to say about the reveal beyond just the god-awful CGI. Hundreds of people clamoured on Twitter, demanding that Marvel give She-Hilk the Sonic The Hedgehog movie treatment and redo the visuals. Something I could hypothetically get behind provided that the animators, effects crew and other workers involved get adequate time to reshoot and receive the compensation they deserve. But we all know that won’t happen, so I’ll settle for calling out Marvel on their cowardice and unwillingness to centre women whose physiques are different from the socially acceptable femininity and feminine beauty standards.

(L-R): Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk / Bruce Banner and  Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer "Jen" Walters/She-Hulk in Marvel Studios' SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk / Bruce Banner and Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer “Jen” Walters/She-Hulk in Marvel Studios’ SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law would have been the perfect opportunity to cast an actor like Gwendoline Christie or Elizabeth Deckie. Both are tall, brilliantly talented, beautiful women who’ve got the years of experience to prove that they’re qualified for the role. Not saying that Tatianna isn’t qualified for the position but at the end of the day, the amount of time, labour and money that probably went to creating all the virtual visual details could’ve been far better used if there wasn’t as much work to be done had they cast a taller, buffer actor from the start jump.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law would have been the perfect opportunity to cast an actor like Gwendoline Christie or Elizabeth Deckie. Both are beautiful, tall, brilliantly talented women who’ve got the years of experience to prove that they’re qualified for the role. This isn’t to say that Tatianna is less capable of delivering! But at the end of the day, the amount of time, labour and money that probably went to creating all the eye-straining visual effects would’ve been better used if there wasn’t as much work to be done to begin with. 

Beyond just that, this casting choice not only shines a light on companies’ refusal to hire diverse body types. Had the leadership team overseeing casting opened the scope of their lens more, we could have seen the countless talented actors who have already invested their time and efforts into bodybuilding grace the screens. Because Tatiana, unlike Eternals’ Kumail Nanjiani, can’t just up and dedicate her days to getting bulky. Women who pursue acting have repeatedly said that their age and appearance dictate what roles they land more than their acting prowess. They also aren’t given the time and grace that male actors have when putting on or drastically cutting weight. So even if Tatiana were to follow in the footsteps of fellow Marvel cast members and bulk up, she’d effectively be saying goodbye to other career prospects down the line.

Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: ENDGAME..L to R: Pepper Potts in Rescue Suit (Gwyneth Paltrow), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Shuri (Letitia Wright)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019
Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: ENDGAME..L to R: Pepper Potts in Rescue Suit (Gwyneth Paltrow), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Shuri (Letitia Wright)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

This doesn’t mean that Tatiana is blameless in this equation! While I don’t fault her for wanting a Disney cheque, she did toss her hat in the ring for the role. Not only that, but she made her through the casting process and took the part away from someone who would have been a better fit for the character’s appearance. But we need to remember that it’s Marvel’s refusal to look past their cookie-cutter casting moulds that is the cause of these issues. They have created a fantastical world where witches can break back the dead, Gods walk the earth, and the multiverse comes undone at the whims of a child. A universe where a woman with the strength to rival armies has all the muscle mass of Kermit’s right arm, and if that’s not an act of cowardice, I don’t know what is. 

+ posts

Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!

You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: