DC & Marvel Almost Traded She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter | CBR

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1996’s DC vs. Marvel was one of the biggest inter-company crossovers the two titular publishers have ever embarked on — pitting the heroes of the two universes against each other and even briefly leading to the combined Amalgam Universe. Afterward, the event has rarely been referenced in either universe.

But it almost had a major effect across both universes, as editors at the time considered having part of the fallout of the series be a temporary trade of characters — with She-Hulk being brought into the DC Universe for a time while the Martian Manhunter took her place in the Marvel Universe. But even though the trade never happened, could it have ever really worked?

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As reported on by GamesRadar, writer Ron Marz — who helped pen the scripts to DC vs. Marvel — has spoken about the proposed bargain, which would have seen She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter effectively swap positions in their respective universes. The reasoning was that both characters were too similar to other major faces in their respective universes, and being moved over to the new setting could have given them more room to shine. She-Hulk could more thoroughly escape the shadow of her more famous cousin, while the Martian Manhunter would have finally been able to showcase his true potential without someone like Superman or Wonder Woman stealing the spotlight.

Ultimately, this deal fell apart, with the legal departments of both publishers deciding any proposed trade of characters on a semi-permanent basis would have been more legal trouble than it was worth storytelling-wise. On the one hand, it would have been a tragic loss for both universes, particularly given the eventual arcs of the characters that have occurred over the last twenty-five years. But it’s worth considering the potential fallout and effect such a bargain would have had on the characters, and how it would have likely solidified specific versions of both characters that have more or less been pushed aside for other characterizations.

For She-Hulk, this openly meta-approach for the character would have likely cemented her place as a comedic character. Although she’d served as a member of the Fantastic Four and Avengers, John Byrne’s The Sensational She-Hulk frequently brought up her status as a fictional character, making her something of a precursor to Deadpool. Hopping to the DC Universe would have likely played into this approach to the character. This could have worked given the popularity of the Byrne run, but it likely would have prevented recent developments for She-Hulk. This includes the courtroom dramedy that defined the separate She-Hulk series written by Dan Slott and Charles Soule (which are a clear influence on her upcoming Disney+ show) and the more dramatic role she’s played in Avengers.

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It’s likely that Martian Manhunter would have had a worse time making the transition. Part of the concern for Martian Manhunter’s prolonged popularity in the DC Universe is the numerous similarities he shares with Superman in terms of raw power. While Marvel doesn’t have nearly as many overt powerhouses operating on that level, it might have given Martian Manhunter the same kind of problem he deals with over at DC: there are very few genuine threats to him, robbing many of his stories of tension. On top of this, Martian Manhunter would have been suddenly unavailable for his stint in Grant Morrison’s long-running JLA run, which helped reintroduce the character to a new generation of fans and set up his bittersweet critically acclaimed solo series by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake.

Martian Manhunter would have lost the chance to resume his place in the Justice League, which leaned into his role as the heart of the team. While he may have had some good potential for interactions with characters like the X-Men and the Silver Surfer, his general attributes are better represented by in-house Marvel characters. Ultimately, it’s likely for the best that the trade never occurred, allowing both characters to continue evolving into their own unique and important roles instead of making them gimmick characters.

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