Jameela Jamil from She-Hulk plays the rival of the hero and the most toxic fan

Jameela Jamil from She-Hulk plays the rival of the hero and the most toxic fan

They say all superheroes get the archenemy they deserve: the one who turns a dark mirror on their deepest motivations and forces them to deal with what makes them heroes in the first place. Batman has his Joker, champion of disorder and chaos; Mister Fantastic has his Doctor Doom, his true intellectual equal. And She-Hulk, star of Marvel’s new Disney Plus series, She-Hulk: Lawyer? Get a 7-foot-tall former cashier with big muscles, a leotard, and some wicked shoulder spikes.

Yes, we’re talking about Jameela Jamil’s Titania, who wrestled in a courtroom with Tatiana Maslany’s titular hero in the show’s premiere. Since she’s almost guaranteed to return before the season finale, let’s examine how Mary “Skeeter” MacPherran rose through the ranks of Marvel Comics to gain immortal fame… as She-Hulk’s most trusted thorn in the side.

“I don't want to change, never!  I am at least a foot and a half taller and stronger!”  Titania exclaims, her blue garment loose from her showing her newly muscled arms.  “So this is what it is to be strong!  All my life I've dreamed of this!  Where are the new clothes I designed?  I can't wait to put them on!”  in Secret Wars #3 (1984).

Doctor Doom transforms Titania from a mousy bean into a superpowered meatloaf in secret wars.
Image: Jim Shooter, Michael Zeck/Marvel Comics

First things first, for fans of Neil Gaiman Sandman and/or the best works of William Shakespeare: Titania in question is No the fairy queen from the hit Elizabethan sitcom Summer night Dream (although, as it happens, both characters have a memorable romantic relationship with a real ass). Rather, this Titania has her origins in the slightly less demanding pages of Marvel’s second crossover event, 1984. secret wars

In that series, written by Jim Shooter and designed by artist Mike Zeck, we first meet Mary “Skeeter” MacPherran, an ordinary woman from Denver brought to the strange planet of Battleworld (it’s a long story) who volunteers to allow Doctor Doom to transform. she into a super-powered goon codenamed Titania, simply for the purpose of fighting the assembled Marvel heroes.

In this initial appearance, Titania’s background was given only a brief and efficient sketch: we know that she once had a reputation as a cranky, unimportant nobody; we know that she has something of an inferiority complex; and we know that these two things give her a big enough blow to the shoulder to start fights with anyone she meets. As soon as she gets the powers from her, Titania mistreats Thor’s villain, Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, because she seems “the toughest man here” (more on Crusher later).

It wasn’t until 2004 she-hulk series by writer Dan Slott and artists Juan Bobillo and Paul Pelletier in which we learned the deeper background to MacPherran’s striking personality. Titania grew up a skinny working-class girl, picked on by her most popular classmates at school and found herself relegated to working a series of dead-end jobs. Her escape was to lose herself in stories of larger-than-life superheroes and villains, whom she idolized beyond reasonable limits, even to the point of pretending to be Spider-Woman to impress her friends.

“She charged recklessly into a world she had only fantasized about,” read the narration boxes describing Titania's story.  Panels of her show her flexing her massive muscles, throwing Wolverine across a battlefield, and making out with Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man.  “A place where she emerged victorious.  Where she stood out above the rest… where she was desired, and perhaps, even loved…

Image: Dan Slott, Paul Pelletier/Marvel Comics

That makes Titania kind of a mirror image of Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan, another Marvel character who grew up obsessed with (and determined to emulate) the exploits of caped celebrities. The twist is that Titania, who makes fun of herself and makes fun of herself, never discriminated whether those celebrities were good or bad. Merely being powerful enough to blaze your way to fame and recognition was worth her esteem.

That’s the dynamic that sets up the key love-hate relationship in Titania’s career: her persistent, obsessive need to prove herself against She-Hulk, her brawny counterpart among the group of superheroes. Her first fight in secret wars #7 It ended unfinished, but it wasn’t enough. Titania would return again and again to engage in pointless fights with an increasingly exasperated Jen Walters, who showed mild interest in being selected as MacPherson’s preferred nemesis.

It’s a strange and dysfunctional bond. Titania was never able to shake her childhood sense of mediocrity, and she needs to impress She-Hulk by showing that she lives up to her standards. And the only way to do that is by proving that she’s strong enough to turn her into cement. In that sense, she acts as a superheroic exaggeration of the more toxic elements of the comics fandom itself, with the drive for her needing her to appear on a favorite celebrity’s radar, expressed through a very specific wrestling demand. and unpleasant. At the time of 1989 solo avengers #14, a grounded Titania was forced to solemnly promise She-Hulk (under pain of a beating) that she would go back to jail and leave her alone, a vow MacPherran was unfortunately unable to keep.

By then, however, Titania had managed to find the other constant relationship in his life, this one for the better (though equally weird and dysfunctional in its own way). After their cute fistfight on Battleworld, MacPherran and Crusher Creel fell head over heels in love and returned to Earth as a duo to commit crimes for years to come. That romantic pairing has proven surprisingly enduring over the decades, with each partner taking care of the other during their periodic attempts at reform. In a memorable and strangely moving example of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz mighty thorCreel even sits in a restaurant with Thor himself to convince him to scare Titania, to prevent her from giving up the law-abiding life and going back to prison.

That also makes Titania a fascinating foil for Jen Walters. While She-Hulk has never made excuses for her constant and unabashed sexuality – she kept two steady boyfriends in each of her identities during her original 1970s series – she jumped into bed with her Avengers teammate Starfox. , in the 1980s, and moved through boyfriends faster than elaine from Seinfeld in the 2000s, he has rarely had a long-term, happy relationship to call his own.

In fact, it’s the stabilizing effect of that relationship that has led to MacPherran’s final turn in comic book continuity, coming full circle alongside Creel as a member of the heroic Gamma Flight team. So while Titania would probably be the last to admit it, she’s already gotten over his bad taste by quietly finding a cure for his deep-seated self-loathing: a happy, oddly functional love life.

“The truth is,” She-Hulk explains to Titania, “I also like fighting you [...] there aren't many people I can hit with a telephone pole without feeling guilty about it.

She-Hulk and Titania call a truce, and start an informal fight club, in current Marvel she-hulk miniseries.
Image: G. Willow Wilson, Roger Antonio/Marvel Comics

Based on the first episode of She-Hulk: Lawyer Alone, it remains to be seen how much, if at all, the televised version of Titania will resemble her toxic-obsessed comic counterpart. Jamil’s version of the character appears to be a social influencer by trade, called into court for a traffic violation, and has been described by the actress as someone who could “just pester you to death” before even throwing a punch. It’s a clever nod, both to Jamil’s own media persona (and thus potential fodder for She-Hulk’s famous fourth-wall-breaking habits), and a modernized version of the way fans and celebrities interact in person and on their platforms.

It’s a shame you forgot to bring the shoulder spikes.

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