This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on August 28, 2016.
Rumors and rumblings of Squirrel Girl making a leap to the big screen are on the rise. It doesn’t seem like you can go a single day without a new casting idea or bit of gossip appearing on entertainment websites like yours truly. That’s no surprise either because it’s a great idea! The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is one of the most popular comics being published by Marvel today, appealing to lots of young readers and making its way onto lots of “Best of” lists. It only makes sense to take this very popular comics property and bring it to an even larger audience on the big screen.
While Marvel Studios has a pretty great record already of adapting their properties to film and television, Squirrel Girl presents some unique challenges. She and her stories are unlike any other superhero story Disney has produced thus far, with the closest comparisons being Guardians of the Galaxy and Big Hero 6. We’ve thought on this some (okay, a lot) and come up with a few things that are absolutely necessary to get Squirrel Girl right.
Pitch Perfect Casting
Squirrel Girl is a character as charismatic as Iron Man, as optimistic as Captain America, and capable of having just as much fun in the middle of battle as Thor. Needless to say that playing the role of Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl’s alter-ego, didn’t you know?) is no small task. While the actress selected may never share the screen with these other Avengers, she’ll need to leave just as big of an impression. So far there have been some great fan-casting solutions, Anna Kendrick being the most notable. Kendrick has definitely shown off both her comedic and dramatic chops in films like Pitch Perfect and Up In The Air. Whoever winds up sporting the big, fluffy tail will have a lot of work to do, making or breaking this film.
Squirrel Girl should be featured in the funniest story to come from Marvel Studios… ever. While it doesn’t downplay elements of heroism and adventure, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a genuinely funny sort of funny book. Part of that comes from Doreen Green’s worldview which allows her to find the upside in absolutely any situation. Another part comes from the innate silliness of her powers, playing on how strange the superhero genre can be. What she does and wherever she goes, there should be a lot of laughs in any Squirrel Girl story. That’s not limited to obvious jokes and slapstick comedy either. Miss Green is a computer science major after all with a lot of smarts, and any good Squirrel Girl scripts should leave some laughs that require a moment’s thought or utilize a bit of wordplay.
What’s the point of calling yourself “Unbeatable” if there’s no one around to challenge that status? A lot of the initial charm surrounding Squirrel Girl came from her encounters with incredible villains like Doctor Doom and Thanos. Anyone can take out some other animal-themed villains running around New York City (sorry Spidey), but it takes someone truly special to take on Galactus. If you’re going to do Squirrel Girl right, then you have to find a villain of immense power to challenge her. This sort of setup is what allows Squirrel Girl to do what she does best: find unexpected solutions to impossible problems. Rather than just punching harder than her opponent, Squirrel Girl saves the day by finding compromises or outside elements that don’t undermine the action while surprising readers. However she saves the day, she needs a challenge that will seem impossible before she pulls it off.
Friends, Friends, and More Friends
My Little Pony may have coined the phrase “friendship is magic”, but The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is satisfied to leave that notion as subtext in all of its stories. Squirrel Girl’s personality attracts new friends with such force it could be considered a superpower in its own right. The current series has provided her with an excellent supporting cast all of whom could add a great deal to a movie. Roommate Nancy Whitehead (and her cat Mew) offer a great “normal” perspective on this extraordinary hero. Meanwhile, Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boy could both add to the fun of any adventure with their own odd powers. No matter where Squirrel Girl goes she’s bound to make friends, even if some start as enemies. Any great adaptation will be sure to feature those friendships.
There’s no denying that Squirrel Girl has some of the strangest powers in the Marvel Universe; that’s not a bad thing though. If Guardians of the Galaxy taught us anything, it’s that audiences are ready for their heroes to be weird and Squirrel Girl can bring that in spades (pulling off tricks like forming a suit of squirrels). These oddities aren’t just defined by her powers, it’s also about the world in which she operates. Take all of the most off-beat elements of superhero stories like time travel and cloning, and Squirrel Girl can tell a great story with them. Marvel Studios should go all out with the strangeness here and let Squirrel Girl operate in a universe where all bets are off.
This is the most important thing. Yes, Squirrel Girl’s stories are funny, strange, and packed with allies and enemies of all stripes, but they’re always sincere. No matter how different the tales of Doreen Green may seem, they are ultimately about heroism and helping others. To take an ironic tone to this material would reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes it work. Whether she is battling Doctor Doom throughout time or avoiding dates with the Mole Man, Squirrel Girl cares deeply about being a superhero. No matter how different she may appear, this is why she will fit in perfectly with the Marvel Studios films too. These movies make audiences believe in heroes and there is no one in the Marvel Universe filled with more belief than Squirrel Girl.