Surprising news today from Marvel Studios and Freeform, as an article in the Hollywood Reporter reports that the companies will produce a 10 episode 30 minute comedy series in 2018 called New Warriors which will feature fan-favorite character Squirrel Girl.
Writer/Producer Kevin Biegel, best know for having created “Cougar Town”, is nearing a deal to write and act as show runner for New Warriors, which in the comics medium was a team of young heroes struggling to define themselves as both a super-team and as people as they move into adulthood. Squirrel Girl has transformed over the last few years from her roots as a joke character with the powers of a squirrel (including super agility, fighting skills and the ability to talk to her furry namesakes) into a model of optimistic empowerment; an unsinkable and unbeatable force whose sunny can-do spirit inspires those around her.
This is Marvel’s second project with Disney’s youth-oriented cable network Freeform, with “Cloak & Dagger” also set to premiere in 2018. The Hollywood Reporter article also features an interview with Karey Burke, Freeform’s executive vice president of programming and development. Burke talks about being excited to expand upon the network’s relationship with Marvel, why a New Warriors series makes sense given Freeform’s younger audience, and why Kevin Biegel is a great choice to head the series and tackle a tricky character like Squirrely Girl:
“I wanted to be in business with Marvel when I first got here but I didn’t want to chase them just to chase them. It was important to both of us to find the right characters that felt like they would speak directly to Freeform’s audience. The Avengers wouldn’t work here but the about-to-be-Avengers works here.”
“[Biegel] has a great love for all the characters that are populating the show around Squirrel Girl. He has a deep respect for Squirrel Girl. Her greatest weapon is her optimism — and this is a character who could easily be made fun of — but she’s written so lovingly that we were thrilled when he was packaged with it. When he came in and pitched it, he understood her importance in the world and as hopefully an iconic heroine for audiences.”
Marvel continues to expand its reach into every corner of the cultural landscape, and even though it’s fair to be concerned about over-saturation at this point, you have to admire the way they’ve strategically approached television production. Their projects with ABC have been the most troubled, with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Agent Carter” struggling to retain a distinctive vibe and find audiences. The edgier and more adult Netflix line of series have found much greater critical and fan success, by and large. And now with their Freeform projects Marvel is trying to capture a completely different audience in the young adult market. Of course, solid execution is what elevates the successful projects above being simply attempts to cash in on Marvel’s popularity, but if “New Warriors” manages to work as both a comedy series and a Marvel property and a YA series, this could be a startlingly different feather in the studio’s cap.