Luke Owen delves into the history of Squirrel Girl…
With comic book movies on the mind of every executive in the Hollywood system, it’s become standard practice for interviewers to ask actors if they’d like to star in a Marvel or DC film. It’s just a thing now. We at Flickering Myth have been guilty of doing it ourselves in the past. A few months ago, Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick was asked this question and she replied, “My brother sent me a Squirrel Girl comic because he thinks I should [play her]. I don’t know what Squirrel Girl does other than be half squirrel, but I could be half squirrel.”
Perhaps surprisingly, the comment gained some traction. Suddenly there were fan petitions for Marvel Studios to cast Kendrick in the role and even Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright voiced his approval. Earlier today we brought you the news story that Captain America: Civil War directors The Russo Brothers are supportive of the casting, although they don’t expect to see her in Avengers: Infinity War.
But who the hell – you may ask – is Squirrel Girl?
It’s a good question, because despite being a part of Marvel Comics since 1991, she’s only recently become anything worthy of note.
Squirrel Girl first debuted in Marvel Super Heroes Vol. 2 #8 where she helped Iron Man defeat Doctor Doom in an attempt to become his sidekick. However Stark felt the 14-year old was too young – but The Avengers would be in touch when she’s old enough. Over time her abilities revealed her to be a mutant (later retconned), and she is able to communicate with squirrels using their own language, and they can understand her when she speaks English. Because of this, she is joined by a squirrel sidekick in Monkey Joe, who was then replaced with Tippy-Toe after Monkey Joe was killed by Leather Boy. She’s also incredibly agile, which she dubs “Squirrel Agility”, and her eyesight is heightened. During fights with Wolverine, she showed excellent hand-to-hand combat skills and she was even able to defeat him in battle.
Did you see the two names in that previous paragraph that she’s beaten? Wolverine? Doctor Doom? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. She’s also gone toe-to-toe with – and beaten – M.O.D.O.K, Deadpool, Bi-Beast, Whiplash, Kraven the Hunter, Fin Fang Foom and even Thanos. Yes, Thanos. However the Mad Titan has since said that she was only able to beat his “clone”, despite Uatu the Watcher being present for the battle and confirming no clone was there. Thanos’ excuse was that his clones are so good that even cosmic beings wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. A likely story there, Thanos.
But how can she beat all of these heroes and villains, you may ask? It’s quite simple really: everyone underestimates her and she’s clever with her powers. Squirrel Girl is a comedic character, so many of her victories take place off panel, but we have seen her beat some of Marvel’s biggest names. She was used her squirrel friends to overthrow Doctor Doom, and during a battle with Bi-Beast with The Thing, she had squirrels pick up garbage and drop it around him. Because Bi-Beast has two heads – and therefore two noses – he had to use both hands to block the smell.
Amazingly, after Squirrel Girl debuted she wasn’t really seen again outside of fleeting appearances until 2005 when Dan Slott brought back the Great Lake Avengers, a team that was made up of enthusiastic heroes with bizarre abilities, including the immortal Mr. Immortal, the plus-sized Big Bertha, the teleporting Doorman and flat-bodied Flatman. Squirrel Girl joined the team following the death of Dinah Soar and she quickly helped the team beat Maelstrom and Leather Boy. Following the events of Civil War – where Squirrel Girl signed the Superhero Registration Act – she became the nanny to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter Danielle Cage and would eventually join The New Avengers.
Which brings us to the true rebirth of Squirrel Girl. Everything she had been in up until now had been jokes or mini-series, but in 2015 she was given her own series in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. During this run she discovered that Galactus was heading to Earth to devour it once again, and she and Tippy-Toe steal Iron Man technology to head into space and befriend him. Rather than eat Earth, they take him to an uninhabited planet which he can feast upon. She’s got some nuts. She truly is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
So could Squirrel Girl have her own movie? It would seem unlikely. While the character is a lot of fun and there is some mileage in a superhero with rubbish powers who is unbeatable, there isn’t enough depth to fill a feature-length movie. Perhaps Kendrick could feature as Squirrel Girl in a TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but her humour wouldn’t fit the dark and gritty tones of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist – even though she lives in New York. The character’s best shot is either her own series – but this seems unlikely on Netflix or ABC – or in a Marvel One Shot. Remember the Marvel One Shots? Remember how awesome they were? How they even gave birth to Agent Carter? Squirrel Girl would be an amazing fit. You could even have a series of them, each being launched with Blu-Ray releases. Personally, a Marvel One Shot crossover with Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man sounds like a visual treat.
Time will tell, but for now I think we can safely assume that Squirrel Girl will not be beating up the Marvel Cinematic Universe any time soon. Which is nuts.
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast and Scooperhero News. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen and read his weekly feature The Week in Star Wars.