The powerhouse that is Marvel Studios pumps out movies at rapid fire, giving fans everywhere characters and storylines to look forward to. Now, the company has set its sights on a new demographic: young female fans. ‘Marvel Rising’ will feature new animated shorts, a TV movie, and tie-in comics which will focus on the next generation of young, diverse Marvel superheroes, such as Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Ghost-Spider (Spider-Gwen), Quake, Patriot, and Inferno.
This summer, Marvel plans to debut a series of animated shorts called ‘Marvel Rising: Initiation.’ The shorts will serve as a precursor to a feature-length animated film, ‘Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors,’ that will premiere on the Disney Channel in the fall.
The story will focus on teenage superhero Ghost-Spider who is on the run after being framed for her friend’s murder. Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Quake, and Patriot are tasked with bringing her in, but they find themselves teaming up with Ghost-Spider to fight a threat no one saw coming. The new group of heroes is younger and more gender and racially inclusive than the casts of heroes seen in previous MCU films.
Marvel editor Sana Amanat, a co-executive producer on ‘Marvel Rising’ and co-creator of the Kamala Khan incarnation of Ms. Marvel spoke about the new developments, saying:
“’Marvel Rising’ is a big storytelling celebration of the next generation of Marvel heroes, for the next generation of Marvel fans. Over the last few years at Marvel, we’ve seen this huge growth in new types of characters, a younger generation of heroes that has brought in a new cast of Marvel fans. These characters are true to what the Marvel Universe is about, while also being truly reflective of the world outside your window.”
‘Marvel Rising’ will make its first appearance at a Thursday panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The panel will feature the cast of the animated series, Dove Cameron (Ghost-Spider), Chloe Bennet (reprising her role as Quake from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’), Milana Vayntrub (Squirrel Girl), Kathreen Khavari (Ms. Marvel), and Kamil McFadden (Patriot). Amanat, Cort Lane (senior vice president of Marvel animation), writer Mairghread Scott, and animation vice president Marsha Griffin will join them on the panel.
Ahead of the panel, Cameron gave an interview with Entertainment Weekly where she spoke about her character. Cameron said:
“I see Ghost-Spider as a strong, rough-and-tumble, feminine energy who can face any challenge and become whatever she needs to be to solve the issue in front of her. She’s definitely got a sense of humor, and a sass and a lightness to her, but she’s also got a lot of darkness to her, because of her secret that she keeps and her family issues. I think Ghost-Spider deals with a few more issues than her male counterparts, not unlike most young women who deal with some different issues than their male counterparts in normal, everyday life. Some of these might be being underestimated by foes, expectations of what a girl or woman should be, the pressures to shatter those expectations, or the social pressures of the male-dominant job title.”
Lane and the creative team behind ‘Marvel Rising’ sat down with young fans to talk about the stories they would like to see. These fan conversations shaped many of the elements that will be seen in the final product. In a recent interview, Lane said:
“We’re very interested in their opinions and they had a lot to say. One thing many girls were asking for was different body types. In animation, characters all sort of look the same, there are similar body types based on model sheets, but here every female character has a different body from the other characters. They were also very open to the ethnic and religious diversity of the cast.”
An important piece of the puzzle was to create a relatable dynamic for young fans who are going through things like changes in friendship, family, their bodies, etc. Kamala’s growing friendships with the other ‘Marvel Rising’ superheroes will feature heavily in the animated series, as well as tie-in comics like ‘Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel & Squirrel Girl.’
Lane spoke about the dynamics in the storyline, saying:
“I haven’t seen much in American animation where story is driven by friendships between female superheroes. Particularly with Kamala and Doreen, it’s gonna be especially be a focus of ‘Marvel Rising.’ Ms. Marvel is a little more tentative, awkward. Doreen is the opposite, full of confidence and extremely unapologetic about being goofy. That puts her in conflict with other characters who are trying to be serious. Every kid feels unapologetically silly, and Doreen gives them license for that.”
The ‘Marvel Rising: Initiation’ short series will premiere back-to-back on Disney XD on August 13, and the ‘Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors’ TV will premiere in the fall.