With news that The Good Place actress and Legendary judge Jameela Jamil is joining She-Hulk on Disney+ as Titania, many folks might be wondering who this relatively obscure Marvel baddie is. Well, we’ve got you covered. Here are all the details on one of Marvel Comics’ strongest ladies, and a perpetual thorn in the side of several Avengers.
Titania isn’t Marvel’s most complicated villain. Not by a long shot. She doesn’t have the complex motivation of a Magneto, nor the royal bearing of a Doctor Doom. Nope—she’s just strong. Really, really strong. Strong enough that she’s taken on the likes of Thor and walked away to tell the tale. But eventually in her run, she found herself as the primary antagonist for Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk.
Titania’s Ordinary Origins
Mary MacPherran was born prematurely in Denver, Colorado, and spent her life smaller than most kids her age. Bullied in school by the popular “mean girls,” she had only one friend growing up, Marsha Rosenberg. Together, they fantasized about having superpowers and getting revenge on their tormentors. When the heroine Spider-Woman (not Jessica Drew, but the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter) showed up in Denver, things changed for Mary.
Marsha commented to Mary, whom she nicknamed “Skeeter,” that her red hair was very similar to the new arachnid heroine. Mary then lied to her friend, claiming to be Spider-Woman. Marsha, the big old town gossip that she was, did not keep the secret to herself for very long. She told everyone in town, and it eventually reached the ears of Mary’s former childhood tormentors. Suddenly, the folks who bullied her as a kid now wanted her in their inner circle. And all it took was having superpowers.
Born of Battleworld
While Mary was attending the house party of one of her former high school bullies, the cosmic entity known as the Beyonder ripped the entire area of Denver right off the Earth. It became part of the godlike being’s so-called “Battleworld.” (This hodgepodge of different planets is a place for Marvel’s heroes and villains to fight it out, so the Beyonder can discover for itself which is stronger—good or evil.) This all transpired in the 1984 epic Marvel mini-series Secret Wars.
Doctor Doom needed metahuman soldiers for his army on Battleworld, he chose Mary and Marsha. He used his tech to give them superpowers. Marsha received molten powers and became Volcana. Imbued with super-strength, Mary took the name Titania; she grew much taller and far more muscular. She acquired the level of physical strength to go toe-t0-toe with heroes like the Thing and Captain America. And with her new powers, she got a new personality too. Instead of shy and timid, she became brash and confident. She gleefully became one of Doom’s soldiers during Secret Wars, fighting heroes like Thor, Rogue, and others to a stalemate.
Meeting Her Arch-Nemesis
Secret Wars was the first time that Mary fought the hero who would become her chief nemesis, She-Hulk. Of all the heroes on Battleworld, it was the Jade Giantess who coul best match Titania in strength. This led to Titania’s lifelong resentment of She-Hulk and a decades-long rivalry between the two powerhouses. Interestingly, the one hero who managed to totally beat Titania in battle was Spider-Man. Due to his thin frame and size, Mary initially dismissed him as a non-threat. When he resoundingly defeated her, she developed a Spider-Man phobia that lasted years.
During the Secret Wars, Titania became a foot soldier of Doom’s alongside Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man. Her moxie eventually won Crusher over, and the two began a romantic relationship. After the Secret Wars, and the pair’s return to Earth, they became a couple. They both joined Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil. The power couple generally kept their villainy pretty low-rent. Less “taking over the world,” and more “robbing jewelry stores.” Eventually, the super-powered pair married and remained a sort of musclebound Bonnie and Clyde.
Wielding an Infinity Stone
Despite already being as strong as the Thing, Titania nevertheless practiced weight training, hoping to become even stronger. A lot of this was due to her obsession with being more powerful than her rival, She-Hulk. At one point, she even got ahold of the Power Stone (in the comics called the Power Gem). This Infinity Stone boosted her strength considerably, but She-Hulk still beat her in battle. She-Hulk was simply much smarter than Titania, and better trained.
Although this storyline is not talked about much anymore, Titania also had a battle with cancer. Without many options for treatment, her husband Crusher Creel managed to coerce Dr. Jane Foster—famously the love interest of his enemy Thor—to treat her. In time, with Foster’s help, she beat her cancer. Years later, when Jane wielded Mjölnir and became Thor herself, the two had a knock-down, drag-out fight. That’s some way to show gratitude to the doc who saved your life, Mary!
Once a Villain, Always a Villain
Over the years, Titania has remained a relatively simple villain. Her enduring love affair with her villainous husband did give her a sweet side underneath all that bluster. She even tried to quit the criminal life at her husband’s insistence. She opened up a pawn shop with the help of her arch-nemesis She-Hulk. But after several misunderstandings, Titania lost her business. She decided a life of crime was her true calling. And despite occasional bouts of heroism, she still lives that villain life. And she still tries to go head-to-head with She-Hulk whenever she can.
Will Jameela Jamil’s Titania have a similar backstory when facing off against the MCU version of She-Hulk? Only time will tell. The MCU often makes huge changes to the comic book character’s backstories, after all. But we know we can’t wait to see the face-off when She-Hulk premieres on Disney+ in 2022.