Warning: contains spoilers for The Incredible Hulk #4!Marvel admits that She-Hulk’s MCU origin is misleading and that there is more to her transformations than initially thought. Fans know that She-Hulk received her gamma-based powers thanks to a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner—and this origin carried over to the MCU. However, in The Incredible Hulk #4, Banner reveals that becoming a gamma mutate is far more complicated than the MCU makes it out to be.
The Incredible Hulk #4 is written by Philip Kennedy Johnson, drawn by Travel Foreman, colored by Matthew Wilson, and lettered by Cory Petit. The Hulk is on the run and has acquired a sidekick of sorts in a young woman named Charlie. The Hulk asked Charlie to accompany Banner—not to protect him but to goad and provoke him. Charlie seeks Hulk powers for herself, but Banner shoots her down, saying she will never get them. Banner cites his own origin as proof. Banner tells Charlie that exposure alone to the Hulk will not give a person gamma powers. He asks Charlie if she thought a blood infusion would do the trick but tells her it is more complicated than that.
Bruce’s words seem to fly in the face of what fans know about She-Hulk and how she acquired her gamma-based powers. In 1980’s Savage She-Hulk #1, Banner gave his cousin Jennifer Walters a blood transfusion. As a result of this procedure, Jennifer changed into She-Hulk. Unlike her cousin, She-Hulk usually retains her intelligence and humanity when she transforms. She-Hulk’s MCU show also featured this origin, modifying it to where Bruce’s blood fell into an open wound on Jennifer’s body. The blood reacted with hers and turned her into She-Hulk. This origin has never been questioned, both in the comics and the MCU—yet now Bruce Banner has revealed there may have been more to it.
Gamma energy is a force unto itself in the Marvel Universe and can affect different people in different ways. In the MCU, only a tiny bit of blood got into Jennifer’s wound, but it was still enough to make her transform into She-Hulk; in the comics, it was substantially more. Yet if Banner is correct, and a blood transfusion alone is not enough, then something else must have sparked Jennifer’s transformation. There is a possibility that the random nature of gamma energy simply hit Jennifer differently than it did Bruce but still does not explain why he dismisses blood transfusions out of hand.
There is also another possibility, rooted in Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s Immortal Hulk. In that book’s conclusion, it was revealed that the Leader was related to Banner, which means Jennifer is related to him as well. The Leader shared a deep connection with the One-Below-All, who used gamma mutates like She-Hulk in its plans. Could She-Hulk’s family ties to the Leader be the reason the blood transfusion did work? If so, this adds another significant layer to She-Hulk’s origin and shows that its depiction in the MCU is misleading.
The Incredible Hulk #4 is on sale now from Marvel Comics!