In case you missed the Flight 370 of the comics internet, here’s a post to get you totally up to speed on the latest developments!

May 21st 12:10 pm Mary Sue contributor Alan Kistler posts a transcript of a podcast from the night before called Scriptnotes, a screenwriting podcast run by John August. On this episode, called The Summer Superhero Spectacular, August and Craig Mazin talk with Legend of Conan screenwriter Andrea Berloff, Captain America the Winter Soldier scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and David S. Goyer, probably the single most important guy in the entire DC/Warner Bros film universe, author of the stories of Blade I, Blade II, Blade III, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (League), executive producer of the upcoming Constantine tv show, and a man with a hand in just about every single DC related thing that goes on at Warner Bros.

Kistler transcribed the past of the podcast where Mazin called She Hulk “She slut” and Goyer chimed in with the following:

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 s**t 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 f**k 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 f**k.

Proving that he his misunderstanding green characters also extends to DC characters, Goyer then took a few swipes at Martian Manhunter, a character he will be writing in the upcoming Justice League movie, by most accounts, asking “How many people in the audience have heard of Martian Manhunter?” and after some people responded in the affirmative saying “How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?”



May 21st 12:11 pm: All hell breaks loose on the internet as Twitter, show biz sites, comics sites and every site except the one you are reading cry out in unison to mock the man who will write the Justice League Movie and to, of all things, defend She-Hulk. As many pointed out, Goyer has grossly misrepresented She-Hulk — she’s Bruce Banner’s COUSIN not his fuck buddy! And she does have kind of a dumb origin: she was created by Stan Lee and John Buscema to copyright the idea of a “female Hulk” since Marvel feared The Incredible Hulk tv show would spin off into a female version, the way the Six Million Dollar Man had with The Bionic Woman. (these are primitive times we’re talking about.) But as hundred of fans pointed out, She-Hulk, in her day job as attorney Jessica Walter, had actually become one of the most well rounded female superheroines on the stands, with respected runs by Dan Slott and now Charles Soule; heck, even the John Byrne run had its moments.

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May 21st 4:15 pm: : The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg hammers the above home with a fantastic post called She-Hulk is a feminist hero, not a male fantasy where she points out that She-Hulk, almost alone among superheroines, is a FEMALE power figure who is so strong she’s freed from all fear and able to enjoy her own sexuality with an agency rarely seen in any female characters:


She-Hulk was sexy, too, of course. But what Goyer seems to miss is that in her earliest and best story lines, She-Hulk’s sexuality is her own. She is not some brain-dead courtesan, but a swashbuckling heart-breaker. Her first love interest is a neighboring medical student, a younger hunk. In Slott’s “Single Green Female” stories, Shulkie brings home a male super-model and then has to figure out how to make sure her Adonis does not get too attached.

The best She-Hulk sex and romance stories succeed because they make an important distinction. She-Hulk is not a male fantasy of how sexual liberation works, where women focus more on making men happy than on their own pleasure. Rather, she is an adventuress with a clear sense of her own gratification and joy.


AND NOW SURPRISE FLASHBACK! In a post on Four Color Princesses by Dee Emm Elms called “People are gonna stare no matter how I dress!” Elms makes a pretty powerful argument that despite her often scanty clothing and art by Greg Horn and Greg Land and the VAST amount of She-Hulk fetish art out there, she is still an icon who stands in for the empowerment of women, representing self-reliance and the power to fight back, a fantasy that a lot of women, particularly battered woman, may find very inspiring. Yes, THAT Shulkie.


Oh yeah, while I was image surfing I found all kinds of amazing images of She Hulk. And I found this one of a little kid whose parents decided to dress their young daughter as She-Hulk. Maybe a little odd…but adorable.


May 21st, 5:45 pm: The showbiz internet begins to question why Goyer is even writing Wonder Woman for the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (League) movie, whose unfortunate title was just announced earlier in the day. Ross Lincoln at The Escapist ties his Martian Manhunter comments—which certainly aren’t very flattering to the superhero world—to Warner Bros’ failure in that department:

It’s been said before, but Goyer almost appears to be ashamed that he’s even associated with comic book films. So it is that the best he can come up with, when asked about one of DC’s most interesting properties, is to delete any trace of the his origin story, misunderstand core aspects of his character, and saddle him with a genericized sobriquet so hackish it almost belongs in a Matrix sequel and plot points that reflect the worst cliches of the last 20 years. I can’t argue that Martian Manhunter isn’t as well known as Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. But using obscurity as an excuse to ignore him shows a painful lack of imagination. Marvel has made billions producing movies about ancient Norse gods and talking raccoons. Meanwhile, DC’s attempt to copy Marvel is being run by someone who thinks the lone survivor of an ancient Martian civilization is too nerdy for audiences to accept. Make of that what you will.


May 21st, 11:11 pm: Rosenberg’s colleague, Michael Cavna tracks down She Hulk co-creator Stan Lee and asks what he thinks of the controversy. Still sharp Stan responds “Never for an instant did I want her as a love interest for Hulk. Only a nut would even think of that.”

May 21, 11:12 pm: “Stan Lee calls David S Guyer a Nut” headlines begin to fan out over the internet.

May 22, early morning: Current She Hulk scribe (and attorney) Charles Soule begins to tweet about the controversy:

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May 22nd, late afternoon: The original cause of the kerfuffle, podcaster.screenwriter John August Craig Mazin, finally speaks up and says when he called the She-Hulk a She-slut, he was descrying her sexist portrayal, not slut-shaming her:

First off, my point wasn’t that I think She-Hulk is a slut. I don’t. I don’t think anyone is a slut. I don’t think there’s anything shameful about female sexuality or the female body.

What I don’t like is the practice of pushing exaggerated images of female bodies to boys because it sells comic books or video games. Women in comics and video games aren’t accidentally drawn over and over and over again with outsized breasts, long legs and narrow waists. It’s marketing. Having a character remark recursively on that marketing doesn’t negate the marketing, of course. It’s a clever way to defuse criticism with grownups while selling issues to hormone-addled boys. John and I have talked about this issue on the podcast before as it relates to video games (specifically in support of the work done by Anita Sarkeesian).

Bottom line: I wasn’t saying that I think she’s a slut. I was saying I think the people who created her were at one time pushing a visual image of Hulk as Slut in order to make money. And I don’t like that. My comment was entirely about the illustration of a fictional character. It was not a reflection of my opinion of the mind or actions of the character.

While the backpedaling here may have carried Mazin all the way to the Arctic Circle, he’s still wrong. And it’s amazing to me that so many guys are getting it wrong. WOMEN LIKE SHE-HULK! Women enjoy a power fantasy! Women would like to be big and strong and not have to give a fuck about anything! Just like guys!

May 23rd, 10:00 am: Weighing in on this who kerfuffle, The Beat must smh yet again at how many people in positions of authority don’t seem to get the first thing about What Women Want In A Superheroine. Not every female character must be a role model. Some are just well-rounded characters who are…fun. FUN, I SAY!!!


It wasn’t until I started writing this piece that I made a mental comparison of She Hulk and Power Girl. As a kid I always liked She Hulk; but Power Girl’s giant tits repelled me. Why? Both are fun, sexy characters who are superstrong. Neither is shy about showing off their physiques. And yet, aside from the excellent Amanda Conner version, Power Girl is usually portrayed as the passive object of the male gaze. As fetishized as She-Hulk is, if you look at the images on this blog post, she is NEVER passive. She is active, in control, strong, powerful…someone you would like to be for kicks, even if it had its downside, just like it does for Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and every successful superhero. She knows who she is and isn’t ashamed of it.

I dunno, maybe Marvel has it wrong developing Black Widow for films. While She-Hulk might be a tough sell because she’s…a female Hulk, she’s probably Marvel’s freshest, funniest female character. And there’s no one like her anywhere in film or TV.

I listened to a bit of the original podcast, and it’s clear that Goyer and the rest are relaxed and goofing around. Everyone says dumb shit from time to time, but the KIND of dumb shit Goyer used unfortunately fits in with a narrative that isn’t very hopeful for a) a female superhero movie ever being successful in the studio system and b) a DC movie that doesn’t star Batman or Superman ever being successful. I don’t know Goyer or anything about him, but I can guess one thing: This morning, he’s sorry he ever said those things aloud on that podcast.
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  1. Great timeline, Heidi! I would considering sticking in the time Warner Bros. decided to announce the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice title. It was a few hours after we posted the story on TMS. Not saying they did it to direct the attention somewhere else but it’s certainly something to consider.

  2. Just a quick correction: “The original cause of the kerfuffle, podcaster.screenwriter John August, finally speaks up” should actually be attributed to Craig Mazin.

  3. “As fetishized as She-Hulk is, if you look at the images on this blog post, she is NEVER passive.” That’s because you cherry picked. Do a google search in front of non comic readers of SheHulk and you’ll get a different response.

    Besides – Marvel has put out two (that I know of) comics where Hulk and SheHulk were treated exactly as Goyer quipped. Incredible Hulk Annual 2000 by Paul Jenkins and edited by Tom Brevoort where Hulk goes on a hormone induced rage that the Avengers tell SheHulk to stop because he wants her. And Old Man Logan by Mark Millar where Hulk and SheHulk have grandchildren. But sure – let’s not worry about actually published portrayals and keep focusing on one man’s theory on a creation of a character.

    Meanwhile, Stan Lee has stated that, even though he created the character, he would rather have not – since it smacked too much of Superman, Supergirl, Superhorse, Superboy, etc. How’s that for character worth?

    And finally – really? Flight 370? You’re going to criticize someone for a joke gone too far and open your post with that?

  4. Great piece, thank you!
    I just wish Marvel could take this chance and announce a She-Hulk movie, it would be ideal to bring this marvelous character into the MCU. It could only bring more fans to She-Hulk comics, the current series is really fun!

  5. What people have to get is that they have to be careful what they say, and have to do some research on the characters before they think of writing them into a film or TV show. I see this as someone not knowing the character and dismissing it in a silly way for laughs…but that always has a price. what we do know is that David has a ton of respect for the characters he has worked on in the past, so this was just a bad call all around.

    When justin and I wrote Powergirl for Amand Conner, we looked at the character and read back issues and found that the version before us by Geoff Johns introduced something in her we wanted to explore and take into the monthly series and build on. Our pushback to DC at the time was ” we want to write this our way” and not make it the usual fight book and focus on her personality and just get over the ” body” thing and have fun with it. Dc was on board to let us go our own way, like they are with Harley.

    In comics , SHE HULK has a history that is colorful and playful at the same time. The character is awesome. Just a little respect towards something you know nothing about goes a long way I find.

    Slowly we are getting our own in Hollywood to help this process along. It all takes time to wipe away the idea they have out of the gate which is ” they did the comic, so they cannot touch or write the show or film” Believe me, I sat at these meetings where I created something and they go out of the way to make sure I have no voice in what happens with the character.That is not happening as much now. Imagine what JONAH HEX would have looked like if they took us on as consultants…or even screen writers. I bet we would be watching the third sequel at this point. Yeah…that may be extreme, but you get the point.

    In the end, David will learn from this and we dont have to make anyone out to be the enemy in the process. Growing and learning is part of the process.

  6. Just want to say, that She Hulk is one of my favorite Marvel characters. Her 4th Wall approach on a lot of covers were stuff I liked. She was like a fusion of Spider-Man and Deadpool, even though Deadpool wasn’t around when I started reading her books.

  7. Jimmy — thanks for the insights, as always. I liked what you guys did with PG, but I can never get over being skeeved out by her when first encountered as a kid.

    Mikael, I generally don’t like using internet argument buzzwords, but thanks for the CLASSIC ‘mansplain. So because BAD stories exist they supercede all the GOOD stories that readers I cited responded to?

  8. mikael, Todd: Oh *please* stop being such disingenuous prissy shits—Heidi wasn’t equating the disappearance of those poor victims of Flight 370 with this matter. She was using the example of media saturation (SEE: CNN) to draw a parallel about the chatter regarding this issue. If you think she was conflating the deaths of flight victims with this, need to scrape yourself up off your fainting chairs and get your heads checked.

    Great article, Heidi. Keep trying harder, concern trolls.

  9. Since no one has brought it up, She-Hulk’s original series may have had its weaknesses but none of them had ANYTHING to do what Goyer is babbling about. It’s been a while since I’ve ready my copies and while I don’t believe Stan and Co. were doing anything groundbreakingly feminist, they sure as heck weren’t indulging in the adolescent loser stuff Goyer’s referencing.


  10. Just a quick addition: I think Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ work on Power Girl during their Justice League run deserves some credit and really helped reshape perceptions and the trajectory of the character. They were the first writing team to really grab her and branch out.

    Likewise, John Byrne did a lot of work on She-Hulk that deserves credit, putting her into his run on the FF and then setting up her 4th wall-breaking solo book. Arguably FF #275 is a big step for the character and can be seen as a prototype, successful or not, in setting the character in that more lighthearted direction with a unique tone.

  11. While Mazin makes some valid general points in the course of his “apology”, using She-Hulk as an example of “pushing exaggerated images of female bodies to boys” is misguided, as she is one of the few female super-heroes who actually has a legitimate reason to have an exaggerated body – SHE’S A HULK. Has Mazin ever seen an Incredible Hulk comic?

  12. One of the things that caught my attention with the Byrne She-Hulk series that was released in my teenage years was that she was portrayed as a real human being (albeit one who knew she was living in a comic book), down to the fact that she wore actual, fashionable clothes that would be expected of a professional woman in the late 80s. She-Hulk is perhaps the ONLY female Marvel character who has a long-term track record of getting reasonably long print runs and in spite of her origin as a distaff counterpart, I’m reasonably certain that I can track down at least single issues of her comics that pass the Bechdel test, which is utterly remarkable given not just Goyer’s limited understand but also in the context of the wider comic-buying public.

  13. Am I the only one that noticed the typo of her name? She-Hulk is not “Jessica Walter” but “Jennifer Walters”.

  14. It’s weird. I liked Goyer’s work with James Robinson and Geoff Johns on Starman and JSA way back when. Seemed like he had a lot of love and respect for those characters.

    Now I look at Man of Steel and it seems like he feels embarrassed to even call Superman by his super-hero name…not to mention the attempt at edginess from that story where Superman renounced his citizenship.

    Wonder what changed for him and his relationship to the material over the past decade or so.

  15. I’m not sure why anyone is shocked or surprised by Goyer’s disdainful attitude or idiotic statements. He is, after all, a representative of DC – a corporate entity that has, over the past several years, proved time & time again that they have no longer have any love or respect for their intellectual properties – and certainly none whatsoever for their audience.

    In their eyes, the hardcore fans, dwindling though they may be, will always plunk down serious coin for any ol’ buttwipe, as long as they have a full run. And the movie-going public – just give ’em a ton of ultra-violent CGI effects so they won’t notice the crap storytelling. Hey – if it nets plenty of swimming pools and coke for us, who cares? And fuck the Martian Manhunter while you’re at it, you fatass virgins.

    I recently saw MAN OF STEEL – and even before this latest Goyer kerfluffle, I saw the raw contempt that this man – and DC – had for the audience in spades. It was a loathsome piece of cinema. But then again, so were the people behind it.

  16. “classic ‘mansplain”
    CLASSIC Heidi. A man makes an opinion you don’t like…but of course you have to interject a derogatory “put down” on him and bring gender into. What a stupid MAN explanation haha!!

    So because GOOD stories exist, they supercede all the BAD ones that are out their that support Mikael’s point? Wow…there’s a thought huh? Perhaps you could stop the constant attempts to make men out as stupid and sexist…we don’t ALWAYS jump on you when you through out nuggets like “sausage fest” and complain about objectification while posting beefcake *giggle giggle* pics, do we? Cheers.

  17. @ Otis t. Firefly

    You were able to only cite two examples of bad She-Hulk stories that fit that profile in decades of publishing. All the She-Hulk runs (Byrne, Slott, Soule) that I know weren’t like that. A couple of stories among hundreds are meaningless.

  18. Johnny Memeonic said:

    It’s weird. I liked Goyer’s work with James Robinson and Geoff Johns on Starman and JSA way back when. Seemed like he had a lot of love and respect for those characters.

    Now I look at Man of Steel and it seems like he feels embarrassed to even call Superman by his super-hero name…not to mention the attempt at edginess from that story where Superman renounced his citizenship.

    Wonder what changed for him and his relationship to the material over the past decade or so.”

    I imagine it comes down to the faux-mature example of Christopher Nolan, which, because it has translated into big bucks at the box office, has caused Goyer to forget whatever adolescent love he may have had for the crazy world of superheroes. “Faux maturity”= “big bucks,” and what is supposedly not mature is the domain of losers.

    One can lay any number of sins at the doors of DC Comics, but I don’t think they’re guilty of this type of regressive doublethink.

  19. Women love Power Girl. Women love Starfire. Women love Wonder Woman. Women love Red Sonja. But you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who thinks their costumes are sexist, or their original interpretations are based in the male gaze. What’s the difference here– the fact that a guy pointed it out in admittedly clumsy language? Then critique the language.

    And his point was obviously not that She Hulk was meant to be Hulk’s girlfriend, but that the character as designed (half naked woman with giant breasts) was a sex fantasy, as much as the Hulk was a power fantasy. If you believe the latter, AND you believe Power Girl’s boob window is kinda dumb, how do you deny the former?

    Whether Goyer is a good writer or not is actually a separate argument from his respect for or understanding of the characters. Warren Ellis’ best work, for example, tends to be with superhero properties he finds to be dumb and morally dubious.

    “I liked what you guys did with PG, but I can never get over being skeeved out by her when first encountered as a kid.”

    Heidi, that was ENTIRELY Mazin’s point, which i got immediately. I know things lose context moving from speech to transcript, but it seemed pretty clear to me.

  20. James,
    The problem with your interpretation, as with those of Mazin and Goyer, is that you’re assuming that a character like She-Hulk can’t also be a power fantasy for any male readers. only a sex fantasy, which speaks poorly for your view of your own gender, if you are indeed of the XY persuasion.

    (I assume from the way you start off your post– “Women love Power Girl,” and so on– you do admit that female heroes, even scantily clad ones, can be power fantasies for women.)

    The fact is, though, female heroes are not only sex fantasies for men, any more than male heroes are only power fantasies for their male readers. There are a small number of male heroes, particularly the Hulk, who are not particularly attractive and who may be judged as almost pure power fantasies. But the great multitude of male heroes are also sex fantasies in the sense that they are designed to be thought of as “handsome” or “studly.” The hetero male then identifies with the character getting action because of his hot bod, his chiseled chin, etc.

    Conversely, it should be obvious that hetero men can and do identify with female characters in the sense of power-struggles. She-Hulk wins most or all of her fights for the same reasons the Hulk does; nearly nobody wants to see the main character beat down.

    Some female characters sell the sexual aspect more aggressively than others. She-Hulk, though, is not a particularly good example of this syndrome. But people will see what they want to see.

    I’ll be examining the issue further on my blog, BTW.

  21. Gene,

    I’m a guy, yes. If you can buy that some character can be a power fantasy, and you can buy that some character can (also) be a sex fantasy, it’s hard for me to reconcile the last 5 years of feminist discourse on the corrupted sexual politics of American superhero comics with the insistence that She-Hulk wasn’t visually designed as just as much wank fodder as nearly all the rest of the women in comics.

    Here is Kelly Thompson on the subject. Is her argument — or her repeated use of “porn star” to describe these characters’ designs — qualitatively different?

    Where was this argument against Janelle Asselin’s critique of Wonder Girl’s breasts?

    My point was that it is entirely possible for a character that women find empowering to have been created with — among other motivations — the desire to have readers find her sexy. I believe — and Mazin backs this up in what Heidi predictably refers to as a backtrack (spoiler: it is not) — that both men were discussing her character design, not her character. As Kurt Busiek describes her over on CBR, She-Hulk is a giant, half-naked Sophia Loren. You don’t make her look that way because you want people to find her horrifying. How is that arguable? Heidi makes this point herself, in this very thread, regarding Power Girl.

    Here is Chris Chiang talking about his drawing of Wonder Woman:

    “That’s really a decision that an artist has to make — and it’s a lot of decisions. It’s not just, ‘Hey, whoops, my pen slipped and she’s suddenly too sexy.’ You’ve got to draw that thong bikini, you’ve got to draw those big boobs and all that stuff.”

    John Buscema drew She-Hulk. He intentionally drew her as a beautiful, extremely sexy woman in revealing clothes. Those were conscious choices. Please explain to me how these choices were qualitatively different than the ones made regarding all the other woman in comics that this and other sites have been repeatedly complaining about. You’re welcome to do so without trying to psychoanalyze me, if you can manage it.

  22. And I think this teapot tempest is a distraction. They obscured their pretty basic point (which nearly everyone here has agreed with on various occasions!) with meatheaded, sexist language, and THAT is what people should be taking them to task for.

  23. “John Buscema drew She-Hulk. He intentionally drew her as a beautiful, extremely sexy woman in revealing clothes. Those were conscious choices. ”
    True, but John Bescema was old school and drew She-Hulk as sexy but in proportion. She’s basically a tall, green version of Jennifer Walters. Latter illustrators have exaggerated her, perhaps, into unrealistic proportons.

    My gripe with the original SHE-HULK series: It was basically a comic adaptation of the INCREDIBLE HULK television series with a female Hulk, and a sleazy lawyer in place of the investigative reporter. Otherwise, in those early issues, Jen Walters was believed to be dead — and the She-Hulk was wanted for her own murder — just like in the television series.

    Once John Byrne had her join the FANTASTIC FOUR, as a stand-in for Ben Grimm / The Thing, she seemed to develop into a character unique from her spin-off origins.

  24. Is the Goyer/Mazin argument “qualitatively different” from the argument put forth in that infamous Kelly Thompson essay? No, not at all: both are equally one-sided, immoderate, badly researched, and loaded with knee-jerk ideology. They’re exactly equal.

    Janelle Asselin’s Wonder Girl essay is not anywhere near as lazy or self-congratulatory as Thompson’s “research” or Goyer’s spitball-idea, in part because the Asselin essay is much more limited in scope. Though I still disagreed with her, I gave Asselin credit for being a bit more “cogent” here:

    And I’ll leave it at that, because you’ve conspicuously ignored my point about the use of attractiveness in both genders, probably because it doesn’t automatically line up with the approved ideology: male sex fantasies= BAD BAD BAD, irrespective of degree. I’m not concerned with your psychology, only your ideology, and it doesn’t seem that’s on the table for discussion.

    We do agree that Goyer and Mazin are guilty of stupid sexist language– though I’d say their sexism is directed against males, in that these jolly fellows presume that no male would want to read a female character except as a wank fantasy.

  25. @SUE(dcwkau)
    HAHA! I see what you did there! Oh ho ho SOOOOO CLEVER!! A MAN pointing out a sexist that’s a woman JUST REAAALLLYYYY gets yours in a wad, no? But you so put me in my place by pointing out that I’m a man and therefore required to sit and let some women dish out the crap they rail against all the time. Zing! You showed me my place you clever thing with that cartoon! I get it–men have everything! NEVER objectified! NEVER discriminated against! Because MEN HAVE IT ALL HANDED ON A PLATTER! Got it…THANK YOU SO MUCH for showing me the error!

    Now go rail and rant about the ignorant gender that just doesn’t get privilege and yesallwomen etcetc. Makes you feel good and superior doesn’t it!? Ahhhhhhh….constant victimhood tastes great!!

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