I really hope petty Hollywood bullshit isnâ€™t the reason for the big change in the new Squirrel Girl comic.
Squirrel Girl is one of Marvelâ€™s best and weirdest monthly comic books. It pokes fun at superhero genre tropes in a loving way yet also uses those ideas in service of a character so earnest that she seems retro. The series is a cult favorite and Marvelâ€™s powers-that-be have raised main character Doreen Greenâ€™s profile by having her be part of the New Avengers. But the recent opportunity for increased exposure is also being accompanied by an apparent change to the characterâ€™s backstory.
In last weekâ€™s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1, the titular characterâ€™s mom shows up to visit her superhero daughter. Itâ€™s a cute little subplot that hits the â€˜friends meet parentsâ€™ and â€˜midwest mom in the big cityâ€™ beats effectively. But then, Doreenâ€™s roommate asks a question about Squirrel Girlâ€™s mutant powersâ€”that is, the power to talk to squirrels and move with their…agilityâ€”and Mrs. Green says that her little girl isnâ€™t a child of the atom all:
This revelation goes against what the character herself said in her first appearance.
This isnâ€™t a case of new creators wanting to rewrite a characterâ€™s lore, as sometimes happens in long-running cape comics. The new series has the same creative team; itâ€™s written by Ryan North, with art by Erica Henderson, colors by Rico Renzi and lettering by Clayton Cowles. Suspicions fall on the persistent rumors that Marvel is changing some of its characters and backing away from others due to issues involving the companyâ€™s movie business.
Now, Squirrel Girl is a comic that always delivers a heavy dose of humor. In particular, one bolded part of Mrs. Greenâ€™s dialogue stick out: â€œand legallyâ€. It could be that this page is North having fun with the persistent rumors that Marvel Comics is de-emphasizing and altering some of its characters to spite some of the movie studios that have rights to its characters. The rumors go that Marvel Comics is primarily trying to promote characters who can appear in movies under the Marvel Studios / Disney bannerâ€”the likes of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxyâ€”and is cooler on promoting charactersâ€™ whose movie rights reside with Disneyâ€™s competitorsâ€”think the mutant X-Men and the Fantastic Four who appear on the big screen via 20th Century Fox.
The recent de-mutant-ification of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch stokedtheserumors.So has the absence of any current Marvel publication of the classic configuration of the FF, a first for Marvel in decades. The idea that Marvel might de-emphasize certain franchises because they donâ€™t control them across all media is unpalatable but believable. It makes a cruel business sense for big-deal money-makers like the Fantastic Four or X-Men.
That logic doesnâ€™t really extend to Squirrel Girl. If Marvel really is altering which of its major characters it pushes, would it really do the same for its smaller ones? Squirrel Girl is, metaphorically, a small fish in a big pond. Doreen Green doesnâ€™t have the rabid fan-base of, say, Deadpool. Maybe there are plans afoot to have Squirrel Girl show up in some unannounced movie or TV show currently in development. Even if thatâ€™s true, there isnâ€™t a legion of fans salivating at the prospect of going to see her adventures on the big screen.
The most baffling thing with this retconâ€”if itâ€™s for realâ€”is that itâ€™s totally unnecessary. It doesnâ€™t matter where her powers come from. The conceit that makes the current iteration of her character is that sheâ€™s really… nice. And spunky. This change probably wonâ€™t materially affect Squirrel Girl very much However, if itâ€™s based on an edict from corporate powers-that-be, then itâ€™s a troubling sign that Marvel is increasingly focused on its characters as a means to an end and not ends unto themselves.
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