For years, Marvel Comics superhero Squirrel Girl was a unique punchline. Appearing in only a handful of comics, she was often used as a gag whenever she showed up, such as in her cameo in 2006. The Fantastic Four cartoon. In recent years, however, the character has started to experience a kind of rebirth thanks to his very first solo comic, The unbeatable squirrel girl, as well as appearances in various children’s specials under the Rising wonder banner. For a brief moment, however, it seemed like Squirrel Girl was on the verge of reaching the next level of notoriety by hitting the front page of a live TV show titled New warriors.
This program never aired despite building up a cast (including a performer to play Squirrel Girl) and forming long-term story plans that the show could follow for several seasons. Given that Squirrel Girl and live-action TV shows based on Marvel characters have grown over the past decade, this begs the question: what happened to the New warriors TV show?
The fatal saga of New warriors dates back to the fall of 2016, when rumors began to circulate on the internet that Squirrel Girl was about to make the headlines of her own TV show. The Marvel Television division was in full swing at this point, with the outfit juggling several new seasons of high profile Netflix programming per year as well as other efforts like Legion and Agents of SHIELD. With Marvel Television’s ambitions growing every day, it made sense that the next character she would turn to would be Squirrel Girl. She might not have been a household name, but sister company Marvel Studios had turned the guardians of the galaxy from Z List comic book characters to big screen icons. Surely there was the potential here to do something similar.
With these qualities in mind, the final months of 2016 saw the news that Marvel Television was committed to producing a New warriors TV show with Squirrel Girl for the Freeform Network (which, like Marvel, was owned by Disney). This partnership has strengthened the relationship between Marvel and Freeform after the duo recently teamed up to make a Cape & Dagger program. Putting the show on Freeform also suggested this New warriors project would primarily target adolescents. It was a demographic that the comedic college-age Squirrel Girl would have no trouble appealing to.
In the summer of 2017, the cast of New warriors had been finalized, with Milana Vayntrub playing the lead role of Doreen Green / Squirrel Girl. The other main superheroes completing the titular superhero squad were Craig Hollis / Mister Immortal (Derek theler), Dwayne Taylor / Night Mockingbird (Jeremy Tardy), Robbie Baldwin / Speedball (Calum worthy), Zach Smith / Microbe (Matthew Moy), and Deborah Fields / Debrii (Kate comer). Shortly after that first casting announcement, Keith david was also confirmed to play recurring character Ernest Vigman, who the producers later revealed would have turned into MODOK during the series.
Getting a big cast like this would seem to indicate that New warriors was off to a good TV premiere. However, in early November 2017, just over a year after the project was announced, Freeform revealed that it would no longer air. New warriors. It was a disheartening development, but at first it didn’t seem like the end of the world. The first news articles covering this development revealed that there had been a positive buzz surrounding the pilot episode of New warriors and that plans were already underway to find it a new home for a 2018 launch.
Free-form transmission New warriors came just two months before the network announced a major change in the type of programming it was broadcasting. Now no longer interested in shows more grounded in various perspectives, a superhero ensemble show featuring a lady who could talk to squirrels was no longer in the aisle of Freeform. Unfortunately, it started a new trend where New warriors would be constantly undermined by the wishes of business. In mid-2018, attempts to stream the show on Disney + and Hulu had come to naught, while the shift in priorities of another major corporate arm of Disney was about to seal the price of New warriors.
2018 was a year of transformation for Marvel Television. It was the beginning of the end for this division of Marvel, as the focus of TV shows based on Marvel characters began to shift exclusively to creating big-budget programming for the new pet project. from Disney, Disney +. So Marvel Television’s programming started to chop left and right, including a wave of cancellations in the final months of 2018 for the various Marvel / Netflix shows like daredevil. This trend would continue in 2019, when shows like The gifted, Runaways, and Cape & Dagger all have bitten the dust.
New warriors was never officially deleted during this time, but watching the brakes kick in on so many of Marvel Television’s projects, it became clear that the outlook was not good for this show. Its fate was quietly sealed in September 2019, when The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the series had died after failing to find a new home to broadcast. This happened just a few months before the announcement of Marvel Television’s disbandment and absorption by Marvel Studios. Now, all small screen rates based on Marvel properties were to involve Marvel Cinematic Universe characters overseen by Kevin Feige and company.
Despite the first word of its title, New warriors was seen as an old company that had no place in Marvel TV’s new programming landscape. Of course, other people involved with New Warriors have their own theories as to why this show never aired. In September 2021, showrunner Kevin Biegel offered fans a preview of Squirrel Girl’s costume on the show, but also offered a series of now-deleted tweets alleging that the reason the show never moved forward was because of its LGBTQIA + content. Specifically, a Marvel Television executive would be against the program’s extremely pro-gay aesthetic and storytelling.
PinkNews reached out to Marvel about the allegations, with a company spokesperson claiming the claims were inaccurate, which Marvel had always supported New warriors, and that the show’s disappearance was based solely on the fact that she had not found a broadcasting house. We will never really know if this was a critical element in the demise of New warriors, but the very existence of such claims reflects the number of varied elements that could be claimed to be responsible for the show’s downfall.
Despite the intention to provide a lighter, more comedic TV counter to sinister Marvel programs like daredevil, New warriors ended up being surrounded by all kinds of issues, especially regarding changing attitudes in business. The ever-changing nature of the television industry in the late 2010s claimed the lives of many potential television programs, including New warriors. The biggest disappointment of all of this is that a live comedy show like New warriors Sounded like the perfect next step for Squirrel Girl’s presence in pop culture.
While this project came to naught, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for Squirrel Girl in terms of a live-action adaptation. If obscure Marvel characters like Shang-Chi or The Eternals can get big budget movies, surely there’s room for a Disney + miniseries based on the craziest superhero in Marvel canon?
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The film is currently in production in Neom, Saudi Arabia.
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