The comic-book world hasn't always been super to women. Lois Lane was an ace reporter, but her primary role was serving as Superman's damsel in distress. Susan Storm was the most invisible member of the Fantastic Four. Wonder Woman was created by a bondage enthusiast — and it showed.
"She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," now streaming on Disney Plus, is the latest in a slew of new series atoning for past sins. It's set in the Marvel Universe, which means you get appearances from the Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner, Wong and Daredevil, as well as a running joke on Captain America's virginity.
But our hero isn't auditioning for the Avengers; she's too busy battling everyday sexism.
The nine-part series opens with a quick origin story, some nonsense about how ambitious lawyer Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) gets a dose of cousin Banner's blood after a spaceship crashes into their car. But the ensuing training session is a hoot; turns out Walters doesn't need much guidance.
Unlike her cousin, she doesn't lose her cool when she makes her transformation.
"I'm an expert in controlling my anger, because I do it infinitely more than you do," she tells him.
Their friendly rivalry is at the heart of the first few episodes.
"You can't expect two people to go through a similar situation but react the exact same way," series creator Jennifer Gao told TV critics this month during a virtual news conference. "And also, there is a double standard to how the world perceives her because she is a woman and because she is the female Hulk. The way everybody treats her is very different from the way the world has treated him."
Walters doesn't throw earth-shattering temper tantrums, even though they're justified. Now she has to deal with both being harassed as a mortal woman in the courtroom and being drooled over by Tinder dates who have an Amazon fetish.
"It's the sort of duality of her two bodies I find so compelling," said Maslany, who also participated in the news conference. "What is it to walk into a room as a 6-foot-7 woman and what is it to walk into a room as a 5-foot-2 woman? It's so rife."
Maslany is used to juggling roles. She won an Emmy for her work in "Orphan Black," the BBC sci-fi series about human clones with distinct personalities. But this may be the first time viewers get to see her comedic chops, from holding her own in a belching contest to breaking the fourth wall, just like Deadpool, At one point, she scolds viewers for getting too excited about one of the many cameos, reminding them that she is supposed to be the main attraction.
She also addresses expected complaints, like why She-Hulk is such a derivative nickname. But despite the preparations, the show has had to deal with backlash. Twitter has had plenty to say about the look of our computer-generated hero.
"In terms of the CGI being critiqued, I do think that has to do with our culture's belief in their ownership of women's bodies," said series director Kat Coiro. "I think a lot of the critique comes from feeling like they're able to tear apart the CGI women. We based her on a lot of Olympian athletes, not bodybuilders, but I think if we'd gone the other way we would be facing the same critique."
Coiro's decision may not win over everyone — but at least she and her team are in the fight.