Doreen is a fairly young comic book character; her stories span her teen years and she’s only been on the page since the early '90s. Even with such a short history, she’s built up quite a number of loyal fans, though there are plenty of comic book readers who don’t know anything about her beyond the fact that she’s that one girl with a squirrel’s tail.
If you’re not too clear on just why Squirrel Girl is so popular these days or why her entrance into Marvel's live-action universe has stirred up so much talk, we’ve got you covered with 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Squirrel Girl.
15 Squirrel Girl Debuted In An Anthology Comic
These days, it seems like Marvel launches new comic series every day. Most of those series don’t last beyond an initial year, though a few of them go on to thrive in the comic book market. Marvel didn’t use to introduce new stories and characters in so many new titles, though. Instead, the publisher used to fill gaps on their schedule with issues that featured multiple unconnected stories. Sometimes, these stories featured characters the audience already knew in side plots that didn’t belong in the regular run. Other times, they were used to allow writers to create new characters and see what happened. Squirrel Girl fell into the latter category.
Squirrel Girl was introduced in Marvel Super-Heroes #8 in 1991. Other stories in the volume involved the Uncanny X-Men taking on a Sentinel and Namor learning about the Bird People. Squirrel Girl made her debut in an Iron Man story written by Will Murray, and developed and designed by Steve Ditko. In it, she ambushed Iron Man, hoping to be his partner. Her character doesn’t have exactly the same design as she does today, but there are aspects of her that have carried over - like her utility belt and her tail.
14 She Disappeared For A Decade
Despite being a fun character that's well liked by those working behind the scenes at Marvel, Squirrel Girl basically vanished after that first appearance. Just two years after she debuted, she was already considered an “incidental” character, according to a Marvel Preview interview with then Senior Executive Editor Mark Gruenwald, meaning that she was someone who sat unused amongst Marvel’s long list of characters.
In fact, she didn’t return until Dan Slott’s miniseries G.L.A. (Unless you count her appearing on Deadpool’s underwear in Deadpool #7.) The four issues followed the Great Lakes Avengers, a team of superhero misfits if there ever was one, as they lost a team member an issue. Not only did Squirrel Girl sign up for the squad in issue #2, but she appeared at the opening of each of the comics to warn readers that the miniseries, which featured a large focus on death, might not be for kids. Her squirrel sidekick Monkey Joe also appeared throughout the issues providing warnings and notes for the readers.
13 Squirrel Girl is Neither Part Squirrel Nor a Mutant
A common misconception about Squirrel Girl, thanks to her bushy tail, is that she’s actually part squirrel. Not so. As far as comic book readers know, she’s not the product of any kind of genetic experiment involving squirrel DNA, though there have been references to her having “partially squirrel blood” over the years. Instead, in both her first and second comic book appearances, she said she was a mutant... and then took that back.
When Doreen first met Iron Man, she told him she was a mutant, which prompted him to suggest that she try hanging out with the X-Men instead of asking to be his sidekick. Doreen didn’t want anyone to know she was a mutant, though when she joined the Great Lakes Avengers, that was one of the first things she told them.
Cut to her solo series, however, and Doreen says that she does not possess the X-gene. Instead, she’s termed a “mutate,” someone who got their abilities from an outside source. Comic book readers will notice that other characters who were mutants and were recently changed (Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Quake) have all been used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and TV properties. Since mutants are firmly entrenched in Fox’s X-Men franchise, that might be the reason for the change.
12 She Started Talking To Squirrels At 10
Comic book fans were introduced to Doreen (without yet learning her name) when she was just 14, but her abilities manifested a few years before that. Her fluffy tail and claws were obvious when she was born, but other abilities only became clear over time. She has a retractable spike-like-claw in the back of each hand that can go through just about anything, and she has teeth sharp enough to chew through hard substances as well. In addition to super strength and agility, she can also speak to squirrels.
Doreen first discovered that she could understand the language of squirrels when she was ten after she overheard one speaking outside of her window. She ended up saving him from being attacked by a dog, and the squirrel, who dubbed himself Monkey Joe, encouraged her to follow her dreams and to help people. While this was all revealed in a more recent volume of her solo series, Monkey Joe was her squirrel sidekick in her first two comic book appearances as well, before Tippy Toe also joined her in crime fighting.
11 She’s A 5 Time Avenger
Considering that so many Avengers tend to form splinter groups and break off from the main team, it might not be too surprising that one character could end up on five of them in such a short comic book history. Squirrel Girl’s first Avengers team was, of course, the Great Lakes Avengers. The group used Avengers in their name to gain more credibility, and Hawkeye and Mockingbird did attempt to whip them into shape at one point, but most “legitimate” Avengers didn’t have much to do with them.
Following that stint, Squirrel was affiliated with three different versions of the New Avengers. She wasn’t an active member of her first team, though on her second team, she became a member under Sunspot’s leadership. She briefly broke away when she wasn’t sure if she agreed with how far he would take his team to catch a bad guy, and the team members she broke away with also called themselves the New Avengers.
Of course, Doreen decided it would be better to rejoin Sunspot’s team so that there was someone to keep an eye on him and keep him in check. Following that, the team was renamed as the U.S. Avengers when they became an officially sanctioned government team. It’s that team that Doreen spends her time with today, along with studying computer science in college and going out on a few solo missions.
10 S.H.I.E.L.D. Tried To Recruit Her
While the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division tends to only employ some of the more volatile superheroes as consultants, Doreen is someone that's right up their alley. After she and her squirrel friend Tippy Toe defeated M.O.D.O.K., a S.H.I.E.L.D. representative approached her about a full-time gig.
Dum-Dum Dugan, whom movie audiences will know as a Howling Commando and contemporary of Peggy Carter, was the representative who offered her a position. He revealed that the organization had actually been keeping tabs on her for some time and thought she had a better handle on defeating supervillains than most of the other heroes S.H.I.E.L.D. dealt with. At the time, Squirrel Girl was the star member of the Great Lakes Avengers, though, and she declined, happy to lend them a hand instead.
9 She Saved Iron Man From Doctor Doom
In her first appearance, Squirrel Girl ambushed Iron Man, explaining what each of her abilities were and begging to be his partner. He was, according to her, the best Avenger, and even though she was only 14, she wanted to try her hand at being a hero herself. Iron Man, of course, explained that he liked to work alone, but suggested several other heroes she could team up with. Their encounter was almost over when she revealed that before meeting up with old Shellhead, she’d already been in a tussle with a big name villain: Doctor Doom.
Unfortunately for the two of them, Doctor Doom happened to follow her, and since she’d delayed whatever nefarious plan he had up his sleeve, the Fantastic Four villain decided to kidnap and get rid of them both. With Iron Man’s suit drained and restraints holding him in place, it was up to Squirrel Girl to figure out how to save the day. With Doctor Doom’s aircraft flying so close to the treeline, she decided to call on her squirrel friends to help. Not only did they disable some of the controls, but they overpowered Doctor Doom to enable Squirrel Girl to save the day.
8 She Uses Deadpool’s Guide to Supervillains
Squirrel Girl doesn’t carry weapons with her into battle. With a tail she has total control over, sharp teeth, super agility, super strength, and a knuckle spike, she doesn’t really need extra firepower. What she does need is a leg up on the competition, though, making sure she knows her villains, even if she’s never encountered them before. So she carries a cheat sheet. Cheat cards might be more accurate, actually.
Deadpool hand drew a set of cards providing information on precisely 4,522 villains. It seems impossible that he’s gone up against that many baddies in his career, but most of the information is accurate and helps Squirrel Girl prepare for a fight. There are times where the Merc with a Mouth has embellished the information, but the cards are more helpful than not. She also utilizes Deadpool’s Guide to Super Villain Super Accessories, which covers 1,622 weapons and vehicles belonging to those in the villainous community.
Not in Squirrel Girl’s utility belt? Deadpool’s Official Unofficial Guide to Superheroes. She wouldn’t find them particularly helpful, since Deadpool mostly drew variations of himself giving a thumb’s up instead of actually covering other superheroes.
7 Squirrel Girl Left The GLA Because She Held Them Back
Squirrel Girl was invited to join the Great Lakes Avengers after saving them from a pair of muggers in Central Park. She spent many adventures with them, even though her first mission resulted in the loss of Monkey Joe. Over time, though, it became apparent to her that the rest of the team wasn’t helping her defeat any supervillains because they trusted her to handle them herself (and lacked confidence in themselves).
In a short comic in an Age of Heroes anthology, Squirrel Girl decided that if she didn’t leave the team, they’d never go out without her. She had just spent her day defeating the dragon-like-alien Fin Fang Foom and returned to the GLA’s headquarters when she found the rest of the team sitting around playing cards. While they were genuinely interested in how her fight went, the team also reminded her of all the times she’d taken on other villains without their help, leading her to decide that she’d been holding them back from their true potential.
How’d she break the news to them that she was leaving? She didn’t. She and Tippy Toe climbed out a window before proclaiming to reporters that they were headed to Disneyland.
6 Doreen Nannied For Jessica Jones And Luke Cage
One of Squirrel Girl’s stints with a New Avengers team wasn’t as an active member. Instead, she was a nanny, employed to stay in Avengers tower with Danielle Cage.
Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, both trying to make a go of superhero careers again, were living in Avengers Tower and looking for someone to take care of their infant daughter full time. They went through a lot of applicants. Seriously. A lot. Some of the characters shown to be approached about the job included Wolverine, Groot, Hellcat, Mantis, and She-Hulk. Jessica and Luke were clearly after someone with abilities who could protect their kid from the inevitable supervillain attack, but it was Squirrel Girl who caught their attention when she told them what an honor it would be to help with their child.
Of course, Doreen and Danielle also know each other as adults. Danielle recently emerged in the present from a future timeline with both her mother’s super strength and her father’s unbreakable skin. She also happens to be the new Captain America, so Squirrel Girl can now say she used to change Captain America’s diapers!
5 Squirrel Girl And Wolverine Have A History
What the exact history is between Wolverine and Squirrel Girl is hard to say, but it’s definitely a strange one. The two don’t appear to get along at all, even though readers haven’t seen them even interact very often on the page.
One such interaction involved her awkward reception of him when he found her at Avengers Mansion during her stint as Danielle Cage’s nanny. She hadn’t realized he was a member of the same team her job was affiliated with. While the exchange only allowed readers to know that the two had met in the past and agreed never to see each other again, readers’ curiosity was piqued further when an issue of Wolverine revealed that she, along with Mystique, Spiral, and Jewel (alter ego of Jessica Jones) all appeared in his fantasies. Does this mean they were involved romantically at one point? It seems doubtful unless there was some time travel involved, since she was a teenager at the time (and comics can get icky sometimes), but you never know.
Maybe one day, readers will get the full story.
4 She Has A Clone
Given Marvel Comics’ penchant for clones, it might have been more surprising if Squirrel Girl didn’t have a clone.
Allene, given Squirrel Girl’s middle name as her own, was created when Doreen was accidentally thrown into the High Evolutionary’s duplication chamber. With all the same powers and abilities as Doreen, Allene setup the Squirrel Avengers Initiative, which aimed to improve the world. She started off doing humanitarian work, but as often happens with clones in the pages of a comic book, Allene went a little evil.
The death of one of her favorite squirrels, named Chompsky, led her to lose faith in humanity. She decided it would be better if squirrels were the dominant species on Earth instead, and set about using the same duplication chamber and creating an army of squirrels. She was almost unstoppable, but with the real Squirrel Girl on the case, she was eventually stopped.
In fact, Allene and her squirrel army were convinced to go somewhere where their goal of a utopia for squirrels could be beneficial: the Negative Zone. With so many villains, and so many unoccupied planets, Allene was sure to find not only people to take down, but a suitable home for the squirrels to thrive.
3 Squirrel Girl Defeated Thanos
Squirrel Girl has a long list of defeated villains under her belt. She’s gone up against the aforementioned Doctor Doom, M.O.D.O.K., Whiplash, Baron Mordo, Ego the Living Planet, Kraven the Hunter, and more. One of her most impressive feats has got to be taking on the Mad Titan Thanos, though. Her defeat of him was even confirmed by The Watcher, since he could only watch and not get involved. The downside? We never actually see how she managed to one-up the guy who takes on (and down) pretty much every intergalactic hero he comes across. One story in the Great Lakes Avengers Special ended with her off to fight him, and the next began with her having already bested him. Talk about leaving out the best part!
Sometimes, her battles don’t actually involve fighting, but friendship. Galactus was also defeated, but she didn’t actually have to fight him. When she found out that he was headed to Earth to devour it, she stole an Iron Man suit to meet him. They ended up chatting about everything, and Squirrel Girl found him a planet better than Earth to devour - one devoid of intelligent life, but chock full of nuts for added nutritional value. They parted as friends.
2 She Time Traveled To Help A Crush
A huge fan of the superhero team known as the New Warriors, and of one of those team members in particular, Squirrel Girl was heartbroken to learn that Speedball, who happened to be her first kiss, was essentially torturing himself for a mission gone wrong. Deadpool, who had temporarily aligned himself with the Great Lakes Avengers (renamed the Great Lakes Initiative while working for the government) was the one who alerted her to the news that Speedball was going by the new name of Penance, and that his new superhero costume actually had spikes that dug into his own skin.
She first tried to reason with her crush, but he refused to listen to her, so she took drastic action. She traveled to Latveria, home of her old foe Doctor Doom, to use his time machine and travel to the past to stop Speedball from ever becoming Penance. Her plan backfired, however, as she was sent to the future instead, where she met a different version of Speedball who also wouldn’t listen to her, and one of her Great Lakes teammates, Mister Immortal, who gave her a brand new mission. Though she was still worried about Speedball, she was informed that she had to return to her present and get Deadpool to leave the Great Lakes Initiative behind.
1 Squirrel Girl Will Star in New Warriors
New Warriors is the latest Marvel property to head to the screen, with a series having just been green-lit a few weeks ago. In this case, it’s heading to Freeform, the same network bringing Cloak and Dagger into live-action. Though Squirrel Girl was not part of the original New Warriors lineup in the comics, she’ll be front and center for the show. Her connection to the team comes from the previously mentioned Speedball, who has been the only hero to remain a part of the team in every version of it.
Over the years, the team roster has included more than 40 different heroes in its different iterations. (Dagger of Cloak and Dagger also signed on for a while, making a crossover between the two series an intriguing possibility.) The team of teenagers was originally formed by Dwayne Taylor AKA Night Thrasher, appearing in its first incarnation in an issue of Thor in 1989.
The Freeform series' roster has already been confirmed, and it will include Squirrel Girl, Night Thrasher, Speedball, Microbe, Debrii, and Mister Immortal (who is typically a Great Lakes Avengers character) as a group of young adults who live and work together and haven’t yet gained hero status. The half-hour comedy will debut on the network in 2018.
With all this new Squirrel Girl knowledge, that Freeform series probably seems too far away, doesn’t it? Tell us what you love about Squirrel Girl, or if we missed out on an important part of her comic book history, in the comments!