The Series: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame!) and Erica Henderson.
The Heroes: The titular heroine, aka Doreen Green, and several friends with similarly rhyming names and animal-based powers (like Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi).
The Ideal Format: A live-action half-hour comedy series—think Marvel's answer to Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
She may not be as intimidating as Thor. She's not a snarky billionaire like Iron Man. She's not as noble or as inspiring as Captain America.
So? None of that changes the fact that Squirrel Girl is a legit hero in her own right, despite her goofy name and silly powers.
What, exactly, are SG's powers?
She has the proportional strength of a squirrel, but she's a girl. (That means she's surprisingly strong, in case you were confused.)
She can grow helpful squirrel claws, which aid her in climbing trees, slashing at bad guys, and carving helpful messages into bricks (a significant plot point seen in volume three of the trades, just so you know).
She can climb, leap, hop, and run with all of the speed and agility of a squirrel.
Her teeth are super good at chomping through tough things.
Oh yeah, and she can talk to squirrels. Like her best friend, the total normal squirrel Tippy-Toe (distinguished by her pretty pink bow).
“That's ridiculous,” you may scoff. “Talk about a lame superhero!”
Ah, but that's where you're wrong.
Squirrel Girl, alias computer sciences student Doreen Green, may indeed have silly superpowers. Her greatest power, though, isn't that she can bound through the trees with rodent-like ease: it's her boundless optimism, kindness, and enthusiasm.
Doreen's a girl who approaches a problem other supes would solve via strenuous punching, and instead solves it by actually listening to the baddies, figuring out what they really need/want/what motivates them, and then offering up long-term solutions.
Which only sometimes involve punching.
In a fight with Kraven, she calls him out on his “quest to hunt the most dangerous game.” Thanks to his tunnel vision, the super villain has gotten stuck on the idea of killing Spider-Man—and any other superhero he meets. Doreen points out that there are far more dangerous threats he could be hunting: like the whale-shaped super-villain Gigantos. Bam! Threat neutralized.
Hippo the Hippo has his heart set on robbing a bank. When SG listens to his sad story and suggests he turn his anger and strength (coupled with his newfound human intellect) to working demolition—thereby solving all of his problems—he abandons a life of crime and speaks fondly of her in the future.
She even goes toe-to-toe with GALACTUS (aka, the biggest bad—literally, the dude is the size of a planet—in the Marvel Universe) on the moon and convinces him to go and eat an uninhabited planet instead of Earth, appealing to his reason and tastebuds. How many other supes can say they've got a trading card autographed by Galactus?
That's what's so damn charming about Squirrel Girl: she's not dark, she's not angsty, she's not brooding, and she's not driven to seek justice thanks to a tragic backstory. She's just a 20-something girl who has the strengths and skills of a squirrel. She likes to “eat nuts and kick butts.” Often times, that butt-kicking takes the form of sunny smiles and heartfelt advice.
And guess what? That's isn't a bad thing. So many comics are heavy, grim, depressing, and ultra-violent. Squirrel Girl's exuberant, brightly-colored, super cartoony style sets her apart. She's a wonderful antidepressant when the likes of Civil War and The Killing Joke have got you feeling utterly doom and gloom. So long as she saves the world, she doesn't care how laughable her tactics were.
Beyond the goofy fun of Doreen herself, there's her team of friends and fellow computer science students: Chipmunk Hunk (possessing all the powers of a chipmunk!), Koi Boi (possessing all the powers of a—I'm sure you can guess), and Nancy Whitehead (not actually a superhero, just a super awesome roomie and human BFF!).
A whole slew of other famous Marvel faces make appearances, too, since SG is tight with Tony Stark (even though he may have blocked her on Twitter following recent pun-laden RTs), used to nanny for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and was once a member of the Great Lakes Avengers.
Doctor Doom is a frequent nemesis, Thor (both of them) and Loki make extended appearances when a trickster god from Asgard comes to Earth to run amok, and even Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. pop up occasionally!
All of this interconnectedness would make The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl a great addition to the MCU. There would be so many opportunities for crossovers and cameos! She would appeal to a different audience than Jessica Jones or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., too, with her constant punning and hilarious asides—this is a comic run practically tailored-made for a half-hour comedy adaptation.
A Squirrel Girl series could be Marvel's answer to Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Parks and Recreations: an affirming, fun, and light-hearted outlet for everyone tired of melodramatic superheroes and their ilk.
What a fun talking-head style show this could be, where Doreen and Co. directly address the audience, there's voice-over narration and frequent Twitter jokes, and Deadpool himself makes PG appearances in the form of Doreen's handy supervillain information trading cards.
Plus, look at the great representation this comic has! Doreen is decidedly not a stick-skinny gal with her chunky thighs and awesome curves. Roomie Nancy is a badass black girl who loves her cat Mew, knitting, and writing fabulous Cat Thor fanfiction in equal measure. Chipmunk Hunk (aka Tomas Lara-Perez) is, as both of his names suggests, a total Latino studmuffin and worthy crush for our gal, while his roomie and fellow crime-fighter Koi Boi (aka Ken Shiga) is Japanese-American.
(Can you see why my brain immediately draws parallels between The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, another optimistic crime-fighting comedy featuring a diverse cast of totally awesome heroes?)
So, Marvel execs looking at fan trends to gauge how best to expand your ever-growing empire: take note. The MCU desperately needs more silly, good-hearted fun brimming with positive messages and awesome lady role models—and Squirrel Girl is just sitting there, ready for you to cast Alison Pill in the titular role and turn it into a weekly comedy we can all tune in to with a smile!
Besides, to any of the haters who still scoff and call Doreen ridiculous? She has defeated Thanos before, and—canonically!—is one of the most powerful superheroes in all of the Marvel Universe.
So be kind, keep those nasty comments to yourself, and just eat some nuts. Or else she might have to kick your butts.
Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.