The She-Hulks of the 90s: Marvel’s never-made movie and series

admin August 19, 2022

The new Marvel series, ‘She-Hulk: Lawyer Hulka’ is now available on Disney + and, although it seems that everything comes from the thinking mind of Kevin Feige and company, there were already adaptation attempts in the 90s of the emerald superheroine. One of them was going to star Brigitte Nielsen and never saw the light of day.

The 1990s were, to put it mildly, a very turbulent time for Marvel. While they started out great with a splendid IPO in the summer of 1991, a perfect storm began to build in the months that followed, bankrupting the publisher midway through the decade.

Looking for Marvel’s “Disney”

And this not only from the comics department and the disbandment of stars. Stan Lee had been pursuing the great opportunity of bringing his stories to the cinema for some time (several decades in fact) and, despite the fact that there was already talk of James Cameron’s Spiderman, none of the projects seemed to come to fruition and, the few that they did had neither the quality nor the desirable reception.

But there was a ray of light: at the end of the eighties Ronald Perelman, who also had his shares in Marvel, took control of New World, the production company founded by Roger Corman, with the ambitious plan of “creating a mini-Disney in terms of intellectual property, based on Marvel characters.” Sure, it didn’t go well.

In Cannes, the production company announced plans for a sequel to ‘Avenger’ (‘The Punisher’) and an adaptation of She-Hulk. Months later, Perelman sold much of the company’s operations to Sony and other companies, with some things falling by the wayside. However, he remained determined to get the new great adaptation of the publisher.

The case of Hulka, for example, was curious since there was not just one but at least three attempts to adapt the character during those years. And, much like the creation of the character, the Hulk series from the ’70s had a lot to do with it.

The first was in ‘La muerte de la Masa’ (‘Death of the Incredible Hulk’), a film that closed the story of Dr. Banner (Bill Bixby) and in which the original plans gave a certain prominence to his female counterpart. Ultimately, Jennifer Walters’ appearance was scrapped for unknown reasons.

However, the following year the pilot for a series was developed with part of the original fiction team and driven by Bill Bixby himself. Jill Sherman Donner wrote a pilot titled ‘Metamorphosis’ in which an assistant district attorney runs into Banner on vacation, who allegedly faked his own death. After being shot, the scientist will save his life.

Here we would have several differences with the comics: first, that they would not be familiar (and in fact there are flirts around here); second, that Hulka would not retain Jen’s intelligence and, third, we would not have an emerald colossus… but the monster’s skin would be golden. In Sherman’s words.

For the role of She-Hulk (resembling Lou Ferrigno in the original), they hired volleyball player Gabrielle Reece. Part of the failure of the pilot was that ABC was never sold on the cast. Jennifer’s interpreter, Mitzki Kapture (‘Baywatch’) did not seem like a well-known enough actress for the project to go ahead and they finally canceled it.

Red Sonja She-Hulk

The death of Bill Bixby seemed to sentence once and for all any attempt to bring She-Hulk to the screen, but New World tried again, this time as a movie in 1994. Again it did not come to fruition and of said tape there are only a couple of images to attract investors, since there is no evidence that a single frame was shot.

Red Sonja Hulka

The little that is known about this film was that it was going to star Brigitte Nielsen, the iconic Red Sonja of the eighties. In the direction would be the director of series B Larry Cohen on a script by Carl Gottlieb (‘Jaws’). Although there has been some speculation, the plot of this lost adaptation never came to light.

This became one more flop in the troubling history of Marvel, whose last bullets from outside productions consisted of ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Generation X’. Perelman declared bankruptcy in 1996 and Marvel was on the verge of disappearing forever.

However, one of Perelman’s last moves as a businessman was a small mattress from which to be reborn: part of the money that New World generated as part of Fox News fell into the hands of Avi Arad, who had founded Marvel Studios and had the purpose to start an era of co-productions that a couple of years later he would inaugurate with ‘Blade’. But that is another story.

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