Marvel has announced approximately five billion TV shows, including long-awaited live-action incarnations of Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk. But there’s still one vitally important Marvel superhero who doesn’t have her own show: Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl. This is a terrible oversight that must be corrected immediately. A Squirrel Girl TV show could run for several seasons without even beginning to access the full potential of Marvel’s greatest hero, and her wonderful supporting cast.
True, Marvel tried to get a New Warriors TV show, featuring Squirrel Girl, off the ground in 2017. But do we really want to see Doreen Green sharing the spotlight with… Speedball? (I thought he was called Penance now, probably because he fights crime by waving penants around? And they say things like “GO COUGARS” or something. You can do a lot of damage with a vigorously penant!) Anyway, I’m sure the New Warriors show would have been great, especially if it was similar to Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger show, but I would really way rather have a proper Squirrel Girl show. And anyone who has read the long-running series by Ryan North and Erica Henderson will probably agree with me. I want Squirrel Girl to have her own supporting cast, including Nancy Whitehead and Koi Boy, not so much Speedball or Pennants or whatever.
There’s really only one argument against introducing Squirrel Girl into the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the next giant Avengers-y crossover film might be very short, because she would take care of Galactus or Thanos or whoever in the first ten minutes — and then the rest of the film would be a pajama party or something. Actually, maybe that’s an argument in favor? Vote for Squirrel Girl to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe if you want to see Thor and Valkyrie and Sam Wilson and Captain Marvel chilling in their PJs!
But here are some actual arguments as to why Marvel needs to do a Squirrel Girl TV show right away:
1) She’s starred in one of the best superhero comics of the past decade.
OK so this is kind of a gimme. But jeez. I was already a fan of Squirrel Girl before North, Henderson collaborated with Wil Moss and company to put out a shining comic. I had read all of Dan Slott’s wacky Great Lakes Avengers comics back in the day, and had fallen in love with this goofy character. For those of you who don’t know Doreen Green, she has the powers of a squirrel, plus she can talk to squirrels. She’s both ridiculous and good-natured, and as I mentioned above, she defeats the toughest baddies in the Marvel Universe with the help of her squirrel army.
So I already loved Squirrel Girl as a character long before she had her own series — but that series took my squirrel love to the next level. Everything about the series is just delightful: Henderson’s art style is vivid and cartoony and adorable, but also incredibly sophisticated and full of cool details. I’ve never quite seen anything quite like it. I used to be a huge fan of the late great Mike Parobeck, and her art is totally different, but gives me a similar feeling of joy and crispness. I suck at writing about art, sorry. Meanwhile, North’s writing is just sublime: he gives Doreen a brand new supporting cast, including the aforementioned Nancy and Koi Boy, and a setup in which Doreen goes to college to study computer science — and the computer science stuff is both fascinating and often relevant to the story. He packs so many jokes and weird asides into every page, they actually spill over into the margins.
(Weird fact I just learned: the Latin term for squirrel is “spermophile,” which… does not sound as wholesome as I wanted to sound here. I was trying to find another word for “squirrel” because I have been typing “squirrel” an awful lot already, but now… I think I’m just going to stick with “squirrel.”)
I recently got around to reading Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe, the hardcover graphic novel which was over-the-top and chaotic and gonzo and hilarious… and also made me cry my face off. Seriously.
2) Everything about her embraces the absurdity of superheroes, without becoming a spoof or a cynical takedown.
We sure do have a lot of superhero media these days, don’t we? I feel like there are three different Batman-adjacent TV shows either on the air or in development: Batwoman, Pennyworth and Gotham PD. Plus you could argue Teen Titans is Batman-adjacent, too? We have multiple shows about people who have met Batman. Point is, there’s a lot of superhero media, and we’re all very familiar with cape tropes at this point. (“Cape Tropes” is the name of my Matador-chic fashion brand.)
And yeah, superheroes are absolutely absurd. Like, gonzo gong-show ridiculous. Superheroes are a weird agglomeration of twenty different pulp genres, including “jungle adventurer,” “urban vigilante,” “mad scientist,” “alien foundling,” and “mythological hero,” and every one of those genres is ridiculous on its own. Smush them together and you end up with a ton of bizarre tropes that someone thought would appeal to kids back in 1938. Kid sidekicks, animal sidekicks, excessive fealty to random gimmicks like “everything has to be bat-shaped”, love triangles where two out of the three people in the triangle are the same person… it goes on and on. (Side note: a truly innovative superhero comic would have a love triangle where all three corners are the same person. Please give me a million dollars, comics companies!)
What I love about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is it revels in the absurdity of superheroes, without ever shading over into dissing superheroes. We’ve had approximately 1000 comics that spoof or satirize superheroes, including normalman, Quantum and Woody, Justice League International, 1963, and various incarnations of Deadpool and Harley Quinn, off the top of my head. What sets USG apart is that it’s so joyful and clearly full of love for superheroes and the Marvel Universe in general. A TV show that nailed that same tone would be the perfect celebration of the MCU — which, and I don’t want to shock you here, is also very ridiculous in many ways.
3) She’s all about friendship and teaming up with her posse
I feel like we’ve all been in a space of talking about “chosen family” and “found family” lately — I am certainly no exception, since those concepts are super important to me, and they’re very central to my recent novel Victories Greater Than Death. I’m also obsessed with community, and how to depict healthy (and dysfunctional) communities in fiction. A huge part of what I love about superheroes is their ability to team up and especially to form family units, as I recently wrote in the Washington Postin the Washington Post.
And Doreen Green is the best at forming a found family. Her bond with her roommate Nancy (and Nancy’s cat Mew) is an endless source of joy and fascination. So is her teamwork with Koi Boy and Chipmunk Hunk, and the other heroes she teams up with. She even kind of draws Tony Stark into being part of her extended family, mostly through endless snappy text chats and occasional theft of Tony’s gear. (Legit sad that Tony is dead in the MCU, so RDJ couldn’t guest-star in a Squirrel Girl show.) I feel like one of Doreen’s main powers is that she brings people into the fold, and creates a ride-or-die family.
4) She usually wins without punching people to death.
My favorite heroes are usually the ones who use their brains AND their hearts, winning through a combination of cleverness and empathy. And that is Squirrel Girl in a nutshell (sorry not sorry). She will generally outwit the baddies, or convince them that there’s no need to hurt anybody, or a little of both. Given that her main weapons are her big fluffy tail and her army of ferocious and nimble squirrels, she’s really good at overwhelming people with furry critters, but meanwhile she always tries to see the good in everyone. Even, like, Kraven the Hunter. Or the Mole-Man.
Seriously. The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs Squirrel Girl, and not as part of the New Warriors or even the Great Lakes Avengers. (Though, where is my Great Lakes Avengers movie??! It will do at least as well as every other movie with “Avengers” in the title!) I resteth my case.
Sorry there are no links to cool stuff in this newsletter. I wanted to get this one out because it is very late. Hopefully sending out another one in a couple days, and there will be links galore.
I did a Litquake panel with Rivers Solomon, and you can watch the video here.
I was on the Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast talking about chosen identities. You can listen here.
There’s a new episode of Our Opinions Are Correct where we talk about gentrification, with guest Sam J. Miller.
I’m giving a keynote address at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference on June 12, and I would love to see you there!
I’m also hosting a live, in-person reading at the Inner Sunset Flea on Sunday June 13! RSVP not required, but appreciated.
My young adult debut, Victories Greater Than Death, is still available in all the book places. Here’s a brand new review at 23rd Legion that seriously made my day.
You can enter a sweepstakes to win copies of VGDT and three of my other books!
I have another book coming out in August called Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories, and you can pre-order it right now. I will be your best friend forever if you do.