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‘She-Hulk’ Has a Confusing Nemesis

Titania returns in the fifth episode of ‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,’ but her role in the story—and the structure of the season—is still unclear

Disney Plus/Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Spoiler warning

As She-Hulk: Attorney At Law crosses its season midpoint, Jennifer Walters still has a ways to go before she’s ready to identify as a superhero, but the so-called She-Hulk has already found her nemesis. After failing to defeat She-Hulk with her fists in the series premiere, a vengeful Titania (Jameela Jamil) returns in the fifth episode to take an unconventional path to winning this week’s rematch: the legal system.

Before Titania took She-Hulk to court for trademark infringement in “Mean, Green, and Straight Poured Into These Jeans,” her presence in the series had been more of an afterthought. In the first four episodes of the season, She-Hulk kick-started the series by pairing Jen with some familiar faces from the MCU—and, somehow, Megan Thee Stallion. That format worked well for the most part, as the cameos helped keep the show fresh and fun from week to week in a way that didn’t feel forced, thanks to the focus on Jen’s job as a superhero lawyer. Last week’s installment was perhaps the strongest of the season so far, due in large part to the delightful duo of Wong and newcomer Madisynn. The fifth episode, on the other hand, departs from She-Hulk’s pattern of crossovers to concentrate on its character examination of Jen Walters and to properly introduce Titania. The result, unfortunately, amounts to the show’s least inspiring episode to date.

That isn’t to say that the talented duo of Tatiana Maslany and Jamil can’t carry the show on their own. On the contrary, She-Hulk has, if anything, waited too long to bring their characters back together. When Jamil’s then-unnamed character stumbled into the final minutes of the premiere, it felt like the sole purpose of her rushed arrival was to set up Jen’s introduction to the world as She-Hulk (and, really, to allow Maslany to deliver the line: “Jennifer Walters, attorney at law”). The rather disorienting incident, along with the identity of the culprit, was subsequently shunted aside in a brief news segment that opened the following episode, and then Titania faded into obscurity until her subpoena arrived at Jen’s door at the end of last week’s installment. Her appearance in the fifth episode is really the first time we meet Titania in earnest.

As with Titania’s hasty arrival in the premiere, her purpose here feels like an overt attempt for the show to center on Walters’s continuing emotional journey into embracing her new, green alter ego. The lawsuit over Jen’s usage of the name “She-Hulk” is about as direct a route as the She-Hulk creative team could have chosen to make Jen confront her conflicted feelings over her newfound identity and celebrity status, as she is required by law to consider her relationship to it. The dispute over whether Jen—whose TV show happens to be called She-Hulk—can continue to use the Hulk-adjacent name is not nearly as compelling or creative on its own as previous cases involving a reformed Incredible Hulk supervillain, interspecies catfishing, or the misuse of the Mystic Arts. (On second thought, Marvel may have just wasted a golden opportunity to rebrand a silly superhero moniker that even Jen refers to as “lazy, reductive, and straight-up garbage.”)

She-Hulk’s introduction of Titania has been handled rather clumsily, which might not have been much of an issue if the character didn’t seem to have such a central role in the series. When Collider recently asked head writer Jessica Gao about Titania’s future in the season following her limited screen time in the first four episodes, she teased that “we’ll start to see Titania a lot more,” and upon losing the lawsuit in the fifth episode, Titania promises Jen that “this isn’t over.” (We still don’t know the identity of the mystery boss who sent the Wrecking Crew to get a sample of She-Hulk’s blood at the end of the third episode, so either there’s another big bad waiting in the shadows, or Titania may have had a twisted new product in mind for her soon-to-be-defunct beauty line.)

In the same Collider interview, Gao explains that in the comics, Titania was like “this gnat that was always buzzing around She-Hulk,” an element they’ve “tried to preserve in the show.” To Gao’s point, Titania’s typically nonthreatening role in She-Hulk comics works well, as her ill-fated and constant attempts to defeat her rival become something of a joke:

Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

The main difference here is that while writers like Dan Slott could drop in a minor villain like Titania during his 2004 comics run and play off of years of previous appearances and battles with She-Hulk, the Disney+ series takes on the responsibility of establishing the character in the MCU. That may have been a tricky enough task in any circumstance, but this show has to do so within the time constraints of a 30-minute comedy that’s already teeming with crossovers, while also prioritizing its duty to flesh out the title character.

All of that said, She-Hulk’s re-creation of Titania—a supervillain with ties to Doctor Doom—as a superpowered influencer is a very funny idea, and Jamil is a perfect fit for the role. One of the highlights of the episode is the all-too-realistic commercial promoting Titania’s new She-Hulk beauty line:

Screenshot via Disney+

The episode does have its fair share of highlights, including a subplot that follows Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) and Pug (Josh Segarra)—two underutilized and consistent sources of entertainment—as they track down Pug’s “drip broker” to put together a suit for Jen that’s fit for a superhero. (They also pick up some memorable “Avongers” swag in the process, knockoff merch that will undoubtedly be flying off the shelves in real life in no time.) Likewise, this week’s chapter affords our first opportunity to get to know Jen’s colleague and frenemy Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry), who’s assigned to represent Walters in her case against Titania.

After the fifth episode’s unsteady balancing of the uninspired Titania lawsuit and the window it opens into Jen’s fractured ego as she watches her—or, more accurately, She-Hulk’s—unfortunate love life entered into evidence, the question of how this series can blend its abundance of cameos with its season-long rollout of a new superhero looms larger than ever. With an unsubtle tease of the show’s next guest star closing out the episode, all signs are pointing to the long-awaited MCU arrival of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil—donning a redesigned costume—next week. Ever since Hell’s Kitchen’s Man Without Fear was prominently featured in the second trailer for She-Hulk, Daredevil’s forthcoming appearance has been one of the biggest draws of the series. But unless there are even more surprising cameos awaiting in the final third of the season, She-Hulk still needs to prove that it can succeed on the strength of its star.