New Warriors was the Marvel comedy series originally set to bring several starring heroes of the titular team, and a comics-renaissance-era Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to Freeform. It quietly slinked off into the realm of limbo and cancellation, after ABC decided to move the show from Freeform to find a new home…which went unfound. But now, years later, we’ve finally got a gorgeous glimpse of what could’ve been — and allegations as to why it never was.
Overnight, former showrunner Kevin Biegel tweeted — and then promptly deleted — a series of behind the scenes pictures and footage from the filming of the New Warriors pilot. The material largely focused around Milana Vanytrub’s Doreen Green, better known as Squirrel Girl, as well as the puppeteered take on her squirrel companion, Tippy-Toe (including a fantastic video of it in action). Among Biegel’s tweets were pictures of the actress in costume as Squirrel Girl, in a riff on her costume as seen in Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Rico Renzi’s critical-darling run on Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (artwork from which, depicting Squirrel Girl and Tippy toe running ahead of a swarm of squirrels, Biegel also included for comparison). The photo series also revealed Vayntrub modelling not just the Tippy-Toe puppet, but also a large prosthetic squirrel tail (in various lighting environments and colorations), as well as a furry-eared headband matching the one worn by Squirrel Girl in the comics. It was, in a word: adorable.
But as well as sharing the images — the first time we ever actually saw something from the show beyond casting announcements — Biegel also opened up (in, once again, a now-deleted chain of tweets) about why the show was scrapped, alleging that a homophobic executive took aim at the series for being “very very proudly gay.”
“A SINGULAR power that be killed that show,” Biegel wrote. “Because it was too gay. A rich, straight, Brentwood turd. He got fired for being vile at his company. We, on the other hand, live.”
New Warriors would’ve been coming out at an interesting time for Marvel’s on-screen queer representation. While TV projects like the Marvel Netflix series and Agents of SHIELD were praised for their inclusion of LGBTQ characters, at the time the company’s film output was deeply criticised for its glaring lack of queer characters on screen. Although a few years later the studio has… very, very slightly improved — it is still mostly relying on promises of queerness to come, and what little has appeared in the meantime has mostly been fleeting at best — the fact that a show that Biegel claims was explicitly a space for queer characters was allegedly axed for being just that is a pretty serious claim. We’ve reached out to Marvel for comment and will update if we hear back.
Biegel went on to clarify the executive mentioned was not Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb, who left Marvel when the company shuttered Marvel TV to focus on streaming service projects directly through Marvel Studios in late 2019. Loeb’s final years with Marvel TV were defined by notable flops like the arrival of Inhumans on ABC, as well as repeated allegations of racist comments on the set of Iron Fist. But whoever Biegel was claiming to be New Warriors’ downfall, they’re out of the picture — as is, perhaps our chance to see it make the light of day beyond these ephemeral tweets.