What would it be like, you might wonder, if Captain Marvel trained Daisy Johnson? Or if Squirrel Girl was BFFs with Ms. Marvel? What would happen if Ghost Spider (more commonly known as Spider-Gwen) was part of a bad-ass superhero team?
Luckily for us, all of these wonders are a reality in the continuing story, Marvel Rising, a brand that focuses on the younger, more diverse superheroes that are already inspiring this generation in comic books. While you may have passed by some of the dolls for Quake or Kamala Khan in the toy department, or seen an issue of “Marvel Rising” on your local comic book store shelf, I’m willing to bet you probably don’t know that Marvel Rising also has feature animated films and specials.
Don’t feel bad! I didn’t know about it either, and only found it by happenstance while scrolling through a miscellaneous YouTube playlist. And since that fateful night, I have been absolutely hooked on this series – which is why yours truly types before you to tell you why you should give this series a try.
Marvel Rising is the best pick-me-up show, I kid you not. It’s inspirational, it’s fun, funny, and important. The series follows a growing group of superheroes – currently headlined by Daisy Johnson aka Quake (voiced by Chloe Bennet!), with the likes of Patriot, Squirrel Girl, Ms Marvel, Inferno, Spider-Gwen, America Chavez, and most recently, Ironheart – as they navigate trying to work together as a team and proving themselves.
There’s a lot of themes going on in Marvel Rising, but perhaps the most prominent (enough so that it’s theme song is all about it) is being true and authentic to yourself, regardless of if the world is ready for you, and the power of friendship. Each character in the series is strong on their own, but when they stand together – magic happens.
I really don’t think I’ve seen such a diverse group of superheroes, guys, I really don’t. The team is comprised mostly of women (after the first movie premiered on Disney, I looked to my mom and said “I think this is the first superhero [film/show] I’ve seen where there was more women than men,” and the movie didn’t even include the whole team.
And the rep doesn’t stop there! The cast features Daisy Johnson (East Asian), Kamala Khan (Muslim), Rayshaun Lucas (Black), Dante Pertuz (Latino), America Chavez (Latina), and black teen prodigy Riri Williams.
And while the show has yet to highlight America’s sexuality (she’s a lesbian in the comics), it does include and does not gloss over the fact that she had two moms – which is the first time I can recall seeing a same sex couple on any superhero cartoon (I may be wrong though).
Personally, Squirrel Girl means a lot to me because she’s fairly chubby (I’m no skinny model in real life) and still kicks ass, eats snacks – which is never commented on – and is just a source of light and love, constantly trying to lift up her friends. Seeing a chubby superhero isn’t something I ever thought I would see, but it’s absolutely wonderful.
Also, there’s not much so far for mental health representation here, it’s not much of a stretch to say Gwen struggles with survivor’s guilt. Hopefully, we’ll get more neurodivergent and disabled superheroes in the future!
Listen, this series has produced some serious bangers. Its theme song, “Born Ready” by Dove Cameron is guaranteed to make you feel like you can change the world, and “Side By Side,” by Sofia Wylie tackles feeling hopeless and helpless, and the friends and family that help support us.
Not to mention, when these songs play in the features? You know magic is gonna happen, and you’re definitely gonna smile and feel like a kid on Saturday morning.
Marvel Rising has a little something for everyone – it’s a feel good inspirational show that doesn’t dumb itself down (though there is a lot of comic relief), the deals with the struggles we all face, and finding the strength within to rise above them. I find each character inspirational in different ways – and I’m an adult woman! This is the kind of cartoon I would’ve hypothetically killed for as a kid, but later is better than never.
And in case the reasons above didn’t convince you – you can watch both one hour specials, and thirty minute episodes (along with bonus features, and animated comics) for free on YouTube! And stream those awesome songs on Spotify, like me as I write this. So what are you waiting for? Check it out, folks!!
Watch Marvel Rising on Disney Now!