With news that The Good Place actress and Legendary judge Jameela Jamil is joining She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney+ as the MCU’s 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. (But mostly She-Hulk’s).
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, Titania found herself as the primary antagonist for Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk.
Titania’s Ordinary Marvel Comics 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.
Titania’s Powers, 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. As Titania, she acquired the level of physical strength to go toe-to-toe with heroes like the Thing and Captain America. And with her new powers, Titania got a new personality too. Instead of being shy and timid, she became brash and confident. Titania gleefully became one of Doom’s soldiers during Secret Wars, fighting heroes like Thor, Rogue, and others to a stalemate.
Titania Meets Her Arch-Nemesis, She-Hulk
Secret Wars was the first time Titania fought the hero who would become her chief nemesis, She-Hulk. Of all the heroes on Battleworld, it was the Jade Giantess who could 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 Titania, she developed a Spider-Man phobia that lasted years. There’s no word on whether the MCU will depict this curious relationship between Spider-Man and Titania.
Titania’s Super-Villain Romance
During Secret Wars, Titania became a foot soldier of Doom’s alongside Carl “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. Titania and Crusher 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. Crusher has not yet been introduced to the MCU, but Baron Zemo has. Perhaps there’s a love story in Titania’s MCU future.
Titania Wields an Infinity Stone in Marvel’s Comics
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. The Power Stone in the MCU is, of course, no more, but the Hulk, who appears in the She-Hulk show, did at one point wield it. We’ll be interested to see if this comes up at all around Titania.
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 Marvel Villain, Always a Villain
Over the years, Titania has remained a relatively simple Marvel 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. It looks like Titania is destined for villainy in the MCU as well, but only time will tell where this story goes.
Titania in the MCU’s She-Hulk
So how will Jameela Jamil’s MCU Titania differ from her Marvel Comics counterpart? All we know for sure right now is that series writer Jessica Gao has said She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s Titania is “very modern and fresh and silly and funny.” This is due to the fact that in the MCU, Titania is an influencer. So expect lots of pointed commentary at influencer culture and just our media in general. We’ve seen Jameela Jamil in the trailer, and she looks like a cross between comics Titania and a modern wrestler. We’re excited to see where her story goes.
We’ll learn more when She-Hulk: Attorney at Law hits Disney+ on August 18.
Originally published June 14, 2021.