Will The New Warriors Comedy, Featuring Squirrel Girl, Find Its Audience?
On Wednesday, March 5th, Marvel made some big announcements about a new superhero comedy series in the works on their website, following on from previous developments for a Cloak & Dagger series. Also to air on Freeform, a cable channel owned by Marvel’s parent company Disney, the New Warriors show is going to feature a group of six powered young people who are not exactly A-listers in terms of their abilities. Nevertheless, they band together in the hopes of putting their off-kilter powers to some good use.
The only character announced so far, and the one headlining the news announcements at the moment, is Squirrel Girl. We already had rumors that Squirrel Girl was going to end up live-action in some way, and this confirms it. This is also Marvel’s first live-action hero comedy so far, though of course there have been plenty of dramas airing on Netflix, from Daredevil to Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and more recently, Iron Fist. The heavier aesthetics created for those Netflix shows would hardly fit the tone of a New Warriors comedy show, so changing up the platform and teams making the shows is probably a solid decision.
There’s also a departure in format–the New Warriors show will be thirty minutes in length and 10 have been ordered for 2018, according to Marvel, who also say the show is,”about that time in your life when you first enter adulthood and feel like you can do everything and nothing at once — except in this world, bad guys can be as terrifying as bad dates”. This definitely highlights a young adult angle, perhaps a slightly younger audience than is watching the Netflix Marvel dramas.
Karey Burke, EVP, Programming & Development, at Freeform, confirms that the channel’s goal is to create programming for “young adults”. Marvel’s Head of Television and Executive Producer Jeph Loeb also uses the phrase “young heroes” when talking about the show. That is in keeping with the New Warriors comics and with the Squirrel Girl comics where Doreen Green is a college student, but it’s a reminder that this will be a very specific category of property geared at a somewhat different audience than Marvel shows have targeted before in live action format.
That specificity may be a very wise move, when you consider that the NBC show Powerless, a comedy based in the DC Comics universe, hasn’t had an overwhelmingly positive reception, though reactions have improved as the show’s season has progressed. Seemingly geared toward a millenial audience, Powerless operates on the fringes of a super-powered world, with a cast of office workers tangental to Wayne Enterprises.
One big difference between a property like Powerless and one like New Warriors, though, is that characters like Squirrel Girl have been steeped in comedy in the comics, and will bring that with them to a comedy show. Another factor working in favor of the success of New Warriors is choice of platform and demographic–Freeform seems like a harmonious fit for a show like New Warriors whereas Powerless has had a lot to prove to a general audience on a major network in a prime-time slot.
Powerless cast the net wide and hoped to find an audience. New Warriors, so far, is going where their intended audience is already located and bringing them a comedy-superhero genre show with characters they may already expect to be funny.