Diversity and inclusion have been watchwords for Disney as of late, as the company moves to add all the colors of the rainbow to its canvas. The MCU has been an important part of that drive and has seen some incredible growth in the area of representation throughout Phase 4 and will continue with shows like the upcoming She-Hulk. Marvel Studios certainly seems willing and able to be on the front line of this new initiative as showrunners pen tales including people from all walks of life.
Earth 616 is rapidly looking more and more like the world of today as projects like Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Eternals (among others) work to reshape the collective face of the world's largest superhero franchise. As new projects like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ironheart approach, the pace of that change is only increasing.
While She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, the next MCU project, may not seem to be pushing boundaries in the same way, the show's lead, Tatiana Maslany, has made it clear that she wants to use her platform to spread that same message.
Maslany recently talked about how her decision to promote transgender rights through her apparel in marketing for the show plays into the overall themes Marvel and Disney have been reinforcing.
She-Hulk Star Stands Against Trans Discrimination
Talking recently to the LA Times, She-Hulk star Tatiana Maslany took the time to comment on her choice to stand up as an ally for the LGBTQ+ community in promotional material. Maslany can be seen in featurettes for the series wearing a shirt that says, "Support Trans Futures," a clear sign of her support for the struggle for equality for both the transgender and wider LGBTQ+ communities.
While the decision may seem small, Maslany remarked that she's "aware of what reach images like that have," especially in the wake of Disney's previous support for politicians who passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. She went on to remark that she's "incredibly privileged" and "very fortunate to have the platform" that she does and reaffirmed that she's "very supportive" of those pushing for equality.
“I know how little it costs me to do something like that. I’m incredibly privileged and I’m very fortunate to have the platform I do. And I’m very supportive of people who are fighting on the ground for LGBTQ rights. That community means a lot to me and if there’s any way that I can continue to voice my allyship then I’ll do it.”
Maslany went on in the interview to relate how the theme of feeling out-of-place in one's own body fit naturally with She-Hulk and pointed to pioneering trans musician Sophie as an inspiration for her as she played the character. Even the mocap suit she wore became a vehicle for helping her understand the struggle of feeling like an outsider in Jennifer Walters' She-Hulk form.
This concept of physical transformation and adapting to life in another body was key to Maslany's decision to audition to play the character, to begin with, calling the discourse around women's bodies "the juiciest thing that this show can talk about."
“There’s so much conversation around women’s bodies and bodies in general. That’s the juiciest thing that this show can talk about. The perception and what it is to occupy a different body and to be received, societally, differently. The expectations we have on women’s bodies, and what they mean about how we can treat them.”
She-Hulk Becomes an Unlikely but Fitting Metaphor
It's both interesting and incredibly refreshing to see Maslany's approach to how her character would perceive life as a Hulk. While it would be easy to say that Jennifer would feel out of place in a larger (and not to mention green) body, the actor has really taken to approaching Jennifer's transformation from a more realistic angle that also serves as a powerful metaphor for issues dominating discourse around women of all shapes and sizes today.
While the connection of Walters' experience becoming She-Hulk to those of trans people may not be a perfect 1-to-1 recreation, there are certainly interesting overlaps to be seen. Of larger interest, though, is that Maslany was so willing and able to draw this unlikely connection when performing a character that others might never have tried to take so seriously.
It's clear that the respect Maslany claims to have for the wider LGBTQ+ community is genuine, and her invocation of the recently departed Sophie is a poignant example of her authenticity. While it's easy for an actor to share a few words of support, it's wonderful to see them actually demonstrate their concern for the groups they speak up for. The MCU's push for diversity and equality will only feel grounded in reality if those who are driving forces behind it share Maslany's very real passion.
Viewers will get to see just how much this connection between actor and character comes to life when She-Hulk: Attorney at Law debuts Thursday, August 18, only on Disney+.