Supergirl is a Kryptonian gifted with a wide array of superpowers fueled by a yellow sun. She-Hulk is a gamma-powered attorney who shares the massive strength of her cousin, the Incredible Hulk. Both women are undeniably heavy-hitters in their respective comic book universes, but which one would come out on top in a fight?
Although the answer might seem obvious at first, a closer look at the histories of these two heroes may reveal one of them has a secret power that may grant her a surprising edge in a comic book battle.
Born on Krypton (or Argo City, depending on the origin story), Kara Zor-El grew into a strong-willed teenager in the advanced civilization of her homeworld. When Krypton exploded, however, Kara was sent in a rocket ship to Earth. Arriving many years after her cousin Kal-El landed in his own ship and grew to be Superman, Kara found herself a stranger in a strange land.
As Kara attempted to acclimate to Earth culture, however, she learned living on Earth came with some great benefits – thanks to its yellow sun which granted her a host of fantastic abilities. Once infused with enough solar radiation, Kara learned she could fly, move at superhuman speeds, and was invulnerable to virtually anything. She also had super-senses that gave her telescopic, X-ray, microscopic, and infra-red vision, as well as heat vision which allowed her to burn practically any obstacle just by staring at it.
Kara’s most impressive ability, however, was her virtually limitless strength. Much like her cousin, Kara’s solar-powered Kryptonian muscles become unbelievably strong under Earth’s lighter gravity, allowing her to lift cars, hurl tanks, or smash through buildings with ease. Unlike Kal-El, however, Kara never developed the unconscious mental blocks that prevented her from accessing her full power, making her often appear to be stronger than even Superman.
Supergirl does have a few weaknesses, though. Although her body is immune to almost all physical damage, she can be affected by magical attacks. Like Superman, Kara is also vulnerable to Kryptonite radiation, which can weaken, mutate, or erase her powers depending on the variety. Finally, Kara has shown she can generate a “super flare” like her cousin and expel the solar radiation within her – turning her into a living bomb but also leaving her powerless until her body can replenish its solar energy reserves.
In a completely other universe, Jennifer Walters was a bookish, somewhat repressed attorney until a drive-by shooting left her critically injured. Fortunately, Jennifer’s cousin Dr. Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk) was nearby and gave her an emergency transfusion of his blood to save her. The blood not only healed Jennifer’s wounds, it left her with the ability to transform into a female version of the Hulk, dubbed She-Hulk. But while Banner’s Hulk was often savage and violent, Jennifer retained her normal intelligence and became less inhibited, essentially becoming her idea of the ideal woman.
Jennifer would come to prefer her She-Hulk form and began spending almost all of her time as a “Jade Giantess.” She became a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and even continued her career as a high-powered attorney, often representing superhuman clients. Her green form made her an intimidating presence, and her power-level would only grow over time.
Although Jennifer was not as powerful as the original Incredible Hulk, she gradually learned she could increase her strength simply by working out with superhuman-level weights. She later learned that if she reverted to her human form and worked out as a normal woman, her gamma-powered form would gain extra muscle and become proportionally stronger. Not all of these strength-enhancing methods were 100% beneficial, however, as Jennifer discovered when some later mutations caused her to become a stronger but more savage Hulk.
Aside from her superhuman strength, She-Hulk has one other unique ability that differentiates her from not only the Hulk but most other Marvel characters – she knows she’s a character in a comic book! This self-awareness appears to come and go depending on the story (although Jennifer frequently hints that she’s always in on the secret – she just chooses not to be so obvious about it). When She-Hulk does break the fourth wall though, her powers reach an entirely new level.
As a metafictional character, She-Hulk can argue with the writer and artist of her story as her comic is being created. She can break through the panels of her comic book for more efficient travel. And when a villain becomes too troublesome for her to defeat with strength alone, she’s been known to tear him out of her comic book, crumple up his drawing, and throw it away!
This last ability would seem to put the odds surprisingly in She-Hulk’s favor if she ever came to blows with Supergirl. Although Supergirl once revealed she could survive as a spirit even after her character was retconned out of the DC Universe, she has never displayed the kind of Looney Tunes-type power that She-Hulk has over a comic book. And while it may be argued that She-Hulk’s ability to break the fourth wall is more of a storytelling choice than an actual power, it should be noted that her cousin the Hulk once became so strong he could “punch reality,” showing this ability isn’t out of the realm of possibility with Hulks.
That being said, She-Hulk’s ability to break the fourth wall does not make her indestructible and characters with sufficient power can hurt or even injure her within the confines of a comic book story. Thus, if Supergirl began hammering away at She-Hulk from the beginning, it’s possible that the Kryptonian’s superior strength and power could knock She-Hulk out early on.
Even so, She-Hulk’s gamma-powered body doesn’t go down easily in a fight – as her cousin Bruce revealed when he fought Superman in the Marvel vs. DC miniseries and forced the Man of Steel to hurl everything he had against him. And once Jennifer realizes what a threat Supergirl can be, she’d likely shift into metafictional gear and simply rip the Girl of Steel out of the comic book, fold her into a paper airplane, and toss her away, making Kara feel as if she’d been exiled to the Phantom Zone. It’s a goofy end to what could have been a titanic battle – but also a loophole that a smart lawyer like She-Hulk knows how to exploit!