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Feature Article

Who The Hell Is Typhoid Mary Walker, Iron Fist Season 2's New Villain?

Iron Fist's new villain has a long comics history.

The Netflix MCU is getting a bit more dangerous this year with Iron Fist Season 2 and the introduction of Mary, a brand new live action take on one of Marvel's weirdest and most wonderful female villains: Typhoid Mary. Played by actress Alice Eve, Mary will enter the Netflix Marvel universe as Iron Fist's latest opponent.

Now, with a name like that you'd probably expect Mary to have some sort of disease-based powers, right? After all, the historical Typhoid Mary became famous as the first documented case of an asymptomatic typhoid fever carrier. But comic book Mary has nothing to do with spreading infections--chaos, maybe, but not disease. Introduced back in 1988 with Daredevil #254, Typhoid Mary is actually a psionically powered mutant with a split personality. But don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds.

Mary's situation revolves around the fact that she has two, sometimes three, separate personalities. There's "Mary," who is relatively normal if a bit timid; and there's "Typhoid," a brutal, psionic femme fatale. Sometimes there's a third, "Bloody Mary" who is the most violent and murderous of the bunch. If you want to get really technical, there's actually a fourth personality present, Mary Walker, which is, in theory, her "base" identity, and a mix of all the disparate traits and pieces of the other three--but that one is a pretty rare occurrence. Her psionic abilities usually manifest as pyrokinesis, but she's been shown to be telekinetic and even hypnotically telepathic as well, depending on the day. Mary has no powers, Typhoid has pretty strong powers and Blood Mary has the strongest powers of the bunch.

Mary's personality roulette seems to be mostly brought on by high stress situations, but her identities aren't exactly autonomous--it's not quite a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde or a Bruce Banner/Hulk situation, though sometimes it's close. Both Mary and Typhoid are aware of the other's actions and they share a memory, but switching between the two is usually something both of them deeply resents. For Mary, switching to Typhoid makes her feel like she's got a "fire" in her brain, and for Typhoid, switching to Mary makes her feel weak and sniveling.

In her originating story arc, Kingpin attempted to manipulate Mary after reading her case file, thinking that her split personality would be the perfect answer to the "Murdock-Daredevil schism," Kingpin's ongoing fixation with the interplay between Matt Murdock as a human being and Daredevil as a vigilante, and a way to ruin both the man and the hero simultaneously. It turned out he was totally right--the switch between Mary and Typhoid, with the aid of some ridiculous comic book science, meant Mary had one scent, heart pattern, and heat signature, and Typhoid had another, so Matt's super senses were completely unable to distinguish that they're actually the same person.

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As Daredevil, he fought tooth-and-nail against the vicious Typhoid, and as Matt Murdock, he helplessly tried to win the love of Mary--unsurprisingly, he was pretty terrible at both, especially since Matt's own deep seated issues made it impossible to tell which he found more thrilling: battling Typhoid in costume or protecting Mary as a civilian.

Meanwhile, Typhoid had hatched her own scheme in the middle of Kingpin's plans. While she continued to manipulate Matt, she also set her sights on Fisk himself, stirring him into a jealous and brutal rage at the idea that Mary could be anyone's but his. Needless to say, the whole situation had a pretty explosive resolution--one that may or may not literally have sent Matt to Hell for a few issues (no, really--it wound up running into a big crossover event called Inferno, it was a whole situation) and left Fisk wondering if he'd made a huge mistake in, well, every part of his plan.

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Typhoid Mary still shows up every now and again in modern comics, and has since become a pretty prominent fixture of the Hell's Kitchen scene. She was briefly part of the Avengers Initiative, where she was given the codename "Mutant Zero," though her time as a hero was (predictably) pretty short lived. Typically, Mary's stories revolve around her being either temporarily "cured" of her powers or incarcerated in mental institutions, where her personalities are left to their own devices behind bars.

When it comes to Alice Eve's version of the character, what parts of her comic book history will or won't be included is still anyone's guess. The Netflix MCU tends to try and avoid flashier superpowers like pyrokinesis, but in a show like Iron Fist, where mystical dragons and chi-related shock blasts are fair game, anything could be possible. Also, it's worth noting that historically, Mary rarely acts alone--and though Fisk's return has already been teased for Daredevil Season 3, it might be worth your while to keep your eyes peeled for any signs of a hidden Kingpin agenda when Iron Fist's new season hits Netflix on September 7.

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kami_amaya

oh *beep*, Typhoid Mary?! The first comic I ever owned was a Spiderman comic from the 90s with her in it. I might have to bingewatch some Netflix soon...