Marvel Just Made A Weird Change To Squirrel Girl

Marvel Just Made a Weird Change to Squirrel Girl

I really hope petty Hollywood bullshit isn't the reason for the big change in the new Squirrel Girl comic.

Squirrel Girl is one of Marvel'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 favourite and Marvel's powers-that-be have raised main character Doreen Green'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 character's backstory.

Spoilers follow.

Marvel Just Made a Weird Change to Squirrel Girl

In last week's The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1, the titular character's mum shows up to visit her superhero daughter. It's a cute little subplot that hits the 'friends meet parents' and 'midwest mum in the big city' beats effectively. But then, Doreen's roommate asks a question about Squirrel Girl's mutant powers — that is, the power to talk to squirrels and move with their...agility — and Mrs. Green says that her little girl isn't a child of the atom all:

Marvel Just Made a Weird Change to Squirrel Girl
Marvel Just Made a Weird Change to Squirrel Girl

This revelation goes against what the character herself said in her first appearance.

Marvel Just Made a Weird Change to Squirrel Girl

This isn't a case of new creators wanting to rewrite a character's lore, as sometimes happens in long-running cape comics. The new series has the same creative team; it's written by Ryan North, with art by Erica Henderson, colours by Rico Renzi and lettering by Clayton Cowles. Suspicions fall on the persistent rumours that Marvel is changing some of its characters and backing away from others due to issues involving the company's movie business.

Now, Squirrel Girl is a comic that always delivers a heavy dose of humour. In particular, one bolded part of Mrs. Green's dialogue stick out: "and legally". It could be that this page is North having fun with the persistent rumours that Marvel Comics is de-emphasising and altering some of its characters to spite some of the movie studios that have rights to its characters. The rumours go that Marvel Comics is primarily trying to promote characters who can appear in movies under the Marvel Studios / Disney banner — the likes of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy — and is cooler on promoting characters' whose movie rights reside with Disney's competitors — 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 stoked these rumors. 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-emphasise certain franchises because they don'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 doesn'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 doesn'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 that's true, there isn'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 retcon — if it's for real — is that it's totally unnecessary. It doesn't matter where her powers come from. The conceit that makes the current iteration of her character is that she's really... nice. And spunky. This change probably won't materially affect Squirrel Girl very much However, if it's based on an edict from corporate powers-that-be, then it's a troubling sign that Marvel is increasingly focused on its characters as a means to an end and not ends unto themselves.


    The thing you have to remember is that Ike Perlmutter, the Marvel CEO, is a colossal arse and probably would issue an edict like that.

    Good news is he's lost a bunch of his sway over the movie component of marvel.

      I like Nightcrawler :3

      Wait why is he an ass? As I understand it he wants to bring X-Men and related movie rights back into the fold but Fox won't come to the negotiating table hence the broadside disposal of entities that Marvel dont have the movie rights to?

        Perlmutter is notoriously cheap, which is why he'd be tanking the X-men stuff- not because the X-men don't make money for Marvel (they do) but out of spite. Also, he's notably interfered with a lot of marvel creative stuff

    Marvel has gone through a lot of changes in the last few years and I've got a feeling that it's more of The Mouse's influence than anything Marvel's creative team has come up with since the buyout

    Last edited 04/11/15 3:53 pm

    I am completely ignorant to Squirrel Girl lore but Mutant legal issues aside it's really not that big a leap to say she is telling everyone she's a mutant because the real story is too embarassing and she wants to sound cool. It just adds to her playful and somewhat naive personality.

    Last edited 04/11/15 3:57 pm

    Best case scenario - they're doing some tweaking so they can toss the Squirrel Girl license over to Disney Animation as a follow up to Big Hero 6.

    "Different DNA"... yeah, I'm going with "it's a joke" because that sounds like 'mutant'', through the double-speak filter of a mother not wanting to admit it.

    "Stupid story, and I don't know why you keep telling it." Sounds the usual S.G way of mocking the fourth wall.

      Marvel science and terminology is often different from their real life counterparts. For example, if you get too much radiation in real life and get cancer, the cancer is mutated cells. Spider-Man's DNA was altered by the radioactive spider-bite, and is considered to be a mutate, not a mutant. Mutants in the MU typically manifest their powers at times of great stress such as puberty, but they have the same DNA since birth. If Magneto has a child with the same powers like Polaris, even though she is functionally the same as her parent, she is still considered to be a mutant. Recently, Marvel have established that one could temporarily get mutant powers by injecting oneself with mutant growth hormone. Star Wars tries to use "mitochondria"(midoclorians?) as a power source or receiver or something. So there's a lot of potential for sci-fi variation... like a squirrel could have bitten the ultrasound machine that they used on Squirrel Girl's mother to change something, and it would effect her biology somehow and she wouldn't be a mutant.

      That being said, there is also the discrimination factor. Mutants in the MU are often discriminated against. You could take someone like Emma Frost, who looks like a beautiful human being, and she can be treated worse than someone like the Thing simply because "she's a mutant". SG's mom saying she's not a mutant could be her just trying to avoid the social stigma that comes with being a mutant in the MU.

    Pfft the way it is worded and the fact that they offer no alternative explanation is definitely a tongue-in-cheek jab at the whole de-mutantification thing. This is Ryan North, this is his style of his humour. Just add "guys" at the end of that dialogue and you'll find yourself reading it in the "voice" of T-Rex.

      I thought the same thing when I initially read it in the issue myself.

      Exactly. The very tongue-in-cheek nature of the whole thing calls its legitimacy into question.

    It's a joke referring to FOX's movie rights to Marvel Mutants. This way you not only have a funny joke but a loophole for her not to be part of the X-Men universe.

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