Concerning The She-Hulk “Debate”

Posted: May 24, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Here’s the truth of the matter – whether or not you agree or disagree with Goyer’s recent comments on She-Hulk, what he says holds true with ALL superheroines in comics, popular or not.

Over at Movie Pilot, journalist Alisha Grauso wrote an article on Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer’s recent bashing of She-Hulk and her “porn-star” persona. The transcript of the conversation from that article can be found below…

 The real name for She-Hulk was Slut-Hulk. That was the whole point. Let’s just make this green chick with enormous boobs. And she’s Hulk strong but not Hulk massive, right? … She’s real lean, stringy…

Goyer: She’s still pretty chunky. She was like Chyna from the WWE.

Mazin: The whole point of She-Hulk was just to appeal sexistly to ten-year-old boys. Worked on me.

Goyer: I have a theory about She-Hulk. Which was created by a man, right? And at the time in particular I think 95% of comic book readers were men and certainly almost all of the comic book writers were men. So the Hulk was this classic male power fantasy. It’s like, most of the people reading comic books were these people like me who were just these little kids getting the shit kicked out of them every day… And so then they created She-Hulk, right? Who was still smart… I think She-Hulk is the chick that you could fuck if you were Hulk, you know what I’m saying? … She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it’s like if I’m going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk then let’s create a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could fuck.

Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and have the right to voice those opinions – even the fanboys and fangirls that really can’t see the broader picture. The outrage of Goyer’s comments can be found in more places than just Movie Pilot, and it’s astounding how upset fans are getting when a writer calls a female character a mere sex object.

I honestly don’t care when people have opinions about the standard comics are setting in society, or when they get upset by what people say about them. As stated above, we’re all entitled to our own opinions. However, when you want to make an argument that negates what a person says about gender and sex issues, you have to really think about what you use as “evidence” to prove your point.

In the linked article, Grauso uses certain images as a way of illustrating She-Hulk’s “Strong-female-character” persona. She even types out a made-up monologue of a little girl who dreams of being as powerful and epic and She-Hulk is,

I say to you, pretend it’s your little sister they’re talking about. Somewhat changes your views, doesn’t it? What about the little girl reading a She-Hulk comic right now and thinking, “She’s strong and beautiful and smart and brave! I want to be just like her!”

So what’s the issue here? Directly above this paragraph, a image of She-Hulk bench pressing impossible tons is shown…


To be honest, this might be one of the most recognizable poses used for female superheroes, right after the stocked rear-end poses you can easily find in any movie posters with women in them. Sure, she’s lifting a million tons, but what’s the focus of this drawing? I mean, really, you HAVE to know what the artist is really doing here.

I’m unable to truly comment on She-Hulk specifically since I’m not a Marvel Comics follower except with the movies and TV shows, and She-Hulk is far from someone I’m very familiar with. But guess what, I’m a faithful DC Comics follower, with Wonder Woman and Power Girl being my favorite superheroines in DC list of strong female characters. I believe Power Girl to be an incredibly strong character, but she’s still used as a sex symbol more than she’s used as a strong character.

It’s hard to find a lot of images that support the notion of female superheroes and strong characters without promoting their overly sexual characteristics as well. Artists have been utilizing the urge for sexual power fantasies for years and everyone eats it up like candy. While the male heroes are drawn as strong and epic, the women are drawn as strong, epic, and sexually primed and ready to go. Need examples? As always, Google is a great tool – search phrases like “female superheroes poses” will help you in this hunt. However, I’ve provided some samples below in case you don’t want to go the Google route.

I’m not knocking the art, it’s all fan-freaking-tastic art! What I’m knocking is the inconsistency in fan rhetoric when it comes to strong females characters and the sexual motif that permeates all throughout superhero comics. Female characters in comics have become so much stronger than they used to be…but they’re still drawn as sexual things to be objectified.

The truth is, even if a superheroine is written as strong and outstanding, they often get a “pin-up” treatment in the artwork. If you don’t believe this, well, see the artwork in the linked article and the above images. She-Hulk, and every other female superhero, is still a badass, but she’s really drawn as a power fantasy sex object. This is undeniable and people need to accept the fact that, while comics are awesome and I love the characters, women are, visually, treated like shit.

I do, however, agree with Grauso on the point that Goyer’s interpretation of She-Hulk is dumb and short-sighted. It’s as if he remembers being 10 and he can’t view comic book females as more than what his 10-year-old fantasies dictate them to be. Has he been unable to mature enough to see more of a story line in the She-Hulk comic? Or others? There’s definitely something to be said about the current film makers and writers who can’t discuss a lot of the back stories of the characters in order to have much more intelligent and mature discussions.

The problem lies on two ends – writers and creators who say things without thinking first, and the fans who are so disillusioned to their nostalgic sensibilities that they can’t see the reality of the things they love. I love comics and always will, but I understand how they aren’t the best way to promote gender equality.

Now, time to go read the latest issue of Wonder Woman and how she’s going to defeat evil and be awesome while doing it!


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