Marvel Television is quickly expanding its presence, with an increasing amount of series spread across a number of networks and streaming services. Street-level heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Punisher occupy Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; ABC follows the adventures of the peace-keeping force S.H.I.E.L.D.; teen superheroes will fight back against their evil parents in Hulu’s “Runaways” and Freeform will soon bring a romantic spin to “Cloak and Dagger.”
That’s not all Freeform is working on, however; the cable network recently announced a second live-action series, this one starring the New Warriors. While the roster of the team has not been revealed, we do know the hero who will take center stage when the series premieres – the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. In fact, Doreen Green features so heavily in the show’s early promotion, one can wager the show will eventually be titled “Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors.” A Freeform executive went so far as to admit a “Squirrel Girl” solo series pitch was worked up long before the network partnered with Marvel Television for “Cloak and Dagger.” If that’s the case, we have to wonder why the decision was made to attach the New Warriors to Squirrel Girl instead of letting her prosper on her own?
New Warriors As Supporting Characters
Perhaps the answer is as simple as Marvel and Freeform believing in Squirrel Girl… but not enough to trust her to support an entire TV series. The headlining formula is already proving successful for Marvel Comics in the monthly “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” series from the creative team of Ryan North and Erica Henderson and spinoff graphic novels, and fans are requesting more Squirrel Girl content. But for the TV show, the powers-that-be are hedging their bets by pairing her with one of the more popular superhero teams of the early ’90s. As someone who grew up with these characters, and who enjoys Squirrel Girl’s solo adventures, it seems obvious that the New Warriors are being set up as supporting characters for the TV show.
Marvel’s teen hero team was created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, and made its first appearance in 1989’s “The Mighty Thor” #411 before gaining an own ongoing series in 1990, helmed by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley. The original roster consisted of young heroes who already existed in the Marvel Universe — Nova, Speedball, Namorita, Firestar and Marvel Boy — with Night Thrasher created to be the team’s leader. At one point, Nicieza planned on Squirrel Girl joining the New Warriors, but he left Marvel before he could make it happen.
Though the team hasn’t quite clicked enough with audiences to support an ongoing title since its first series, they remain rather popular with fans. It’s likely that popularity is the reason they were selected to co-star with Squirrel Girl, with the expectation viewers will latch onto them alongside Doreen Green. Of course, we have to wonder which iteration of the New Warriors we’ll see. While the original line-up is the most popular, one infamous volume of the series saw the team become reality TV stars, a take that may have the easiest road to being adapted into a comedy with Squirrel Girl.
She Has A Special Connection To Speedball, Not New Warriors
While Squirrel Girl never joined the New Warriors, she still interacted with a member of the team on more than one occasion: the kinetic energy producing Speedball. Doreen was a huge fan of the Warriors, even having a crush on Robbie Baldwin. There was such a connection between the two heroes, they eventually wound up sharing an intimate kiss, in a story written by the aforementioned Fabian Nicieza. With Freeform geared towards young adults and teenagers, a romantic storyline with Speedball and Squirrel Girl is pretty likely to happen, and can provide a storyline foundation upon which to build multiple seasons. Of course, as Speedball’s a member of virtually every incarnation of the New Warriors, including the reality TV version, this is likely where the show is heading.
Problematically speaking, as perfect as it may seem for a real TV show, the reality TV team brings with it some potential baggage; the team’s final episode wound them involved in the destruction of a local school in Stamford, Connecticut, which kicked off Marvel’s first “Civil War” event. The New Warriors died in the explosion, but thanks to his superpowers, Speedball lived. Taking responsibility for the death of hundreds, Robbie took a seriously dark turn and took up the new moniker Penance.
Of course, while it’s unlikely that such a downer of a story would be explored on a breezy romantic comedy, there’s an aspect that could potentially fuel an episode, if not several, and it doesn’t require the New Warriors’s presence at all. In an attempt to time-travel into the past to prevent his transformation, Squirrel Girl ended up in the 2099 reality where she encountered a future version of Speedball. This story — adjusted to remove the death of innocent children, natch — would make for an awesome, time-bending tale on cable network television.
She Could Helm the First Solo Marvel Comedy TV Series
Aside from the Netflix shows, the rest of Marvel’s television output (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Runaways,” “Cloak and Dagger”) are ensemble productions. If they would jettison the Warriors, “Squirrel Girl” could be Marvel’s first foray into the solo comedy genre. So far, the only comic book comedy appearing on television — DC Entertainment’s “Powerless” on NBC — also falls into the category of an ensemble piece. As such, while it will stand out as a rom-com, “New Warriors” has the potential to be lumped in with the only other superhero comedy currently airing, and as the response to “Powerless” has been lukewarm at best, this could be a problem.
Superhero entertainment doesn’t have to settle for existing solely as action-packed dramas. A sprinkling of lighthearted flair would help show the general public that comics and superheroes are amazing concepts can be molded to fit any and all genres. And there’s more than enough fertile material for Marvel Television to break new ground with a “Squirrel Girl” solo series where she wouldn’t need the New Warriors at all to make that happen.