Marvel’s most unbeatable hero is getting her own TV series — but with a twist.
Freeform today has ordered a new series featuring the New Warriors, a team of young adult heroes that’s existed off and on in one form or another since writer Tom DeFalco introduced them in a late ’80s issue of Thor. It’ll be an action comedy, reportedly adapted and showrun by Enlisted creator (and serious comic book fanboy) Kevin Biegel.
The press release has the following description:
New Warriors revolves around about six young people with powers living and working together. With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of The Avengers, the New Warriors want to make a difference in the world … even if the world isn’t ready. With Freeform focused on a group dubbed “becomers” — those experiencing a series of firsts in life including first loves and first jobs — New Warriors explores the journey into adulthood, except in this world, they’re not quite super and not yet heroes and the guys can be as terrifying as bad dates.
So far, only one character’s been announced, but it’s the most important one, even if she’s a newbie to the title:
Doreen Green, aka the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Squirrel Girl, who has super strength, a prehensile tail, and the ability to talk to squirrels, was pretty much a one-joke character when she was introduced — plotted and drawn by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, of all people — in a Marvel anthology comic in 1992, where she teams up with a reluctant Iron Man, and defeats Doctor Doom because he hasn’t insulated his armor against attacks from her squirrel friends. She was more or less ignored for the next decade — though, coincidentally, longtime New Warriors writer Fabian Nicieza almost put her on the team (as the “persistent unrequited love” of team mainstay Speedball), only to leave the title before he got the chance — until Dan Slott brought her out of limbo to be part of another superhero joke of sorts, as a member of the Great Lakes Avengers. Slott reasoned that if Doreen could defeat Marvel’s greatest villain in her debut appearance, she could win any fight, against any opponent, and she became the one competent GLA’er. Other writers liked Slott’s approach enough to keep her around, including Doreen becoming nanny/bodyguard to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ baby daughter for a while. (Here she is taking down Wolverine in a sparring session, with some more help from her little buddies.)
Then came The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, written by Ryan North and drawn by Erica Henderson, where Doreen tries to juggle her superheroics with her new life as a college computer science major, making friends even as she’s defeating the likes of Kraven the Hunter, Mole Man, and even Galactus. She wins every battle, though as often by empathizing with her opponent until he gives up as by actually beating him up. At one point, she even writes her own theme song, modeled after the ’60s Spider-Man cartoon’s title tune:
The book is a delight, and is the reason why several actresses — most famously Anna Kendrick, but also Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things) — have publicly expressed interest in playing her on screen. Yet the character seemed so inherently ridiculous that it was hard to imagine a live-action adaptation doing her justice, or being greenlit at all.
But between Enlisted, Cougar Town (which he co-created), and Scrubs, Biegel has plenty of experience balancing the absurd with the sincere, and everything I hear suggests New Warriors is basically a Squirrel Girl series with a more formidable supporting cast than her comic book friends Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boy. And Freeform keeps it in the Disney/Marvel family, but without the broadcast network restrictions and mindset that ultimately made Agents of SHIELD so bland.
It may not work, but I’m so excited right now by the prospect of a live-action Squirrel Girl — especially with the right actress in the role — eating nuts and kicking butts to worry about that.