Lunella Lafayette aka Marvel Comics heroine Moon Girl is truly a force in her world – and in real life, too. The Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur protagonist is a brilliant 9-year-old whose world is turned upside down when her latest discovery, an Omni-Wave Projector, leads to a giant, vengeful red dinosaur stumbling through a portal and into New York City. The dinosaur goes from being a distraction from her research and preoccupation with her Inhuman DNA to a needed friend and sidekick.
Her journey has charmed comic fans, but now Moon Girl and her dino pal are coming to life in a Disney Channel animated series produced by Laurence Fishburne. It’s a great way to make Moon Girl accessible to those who either can’t purchase comics or need visual and/or audio to experience this story. The announcement didn’t receive the level of praise and celebration as other upcoming shows, but Lunella and her transition to live-action matters. Many of Marvel’s genius-level characters tend to be white men like Tony Stark and Reed Richards but Lunella, a Black girl, tops them all as the smartest person in their universe.
In fact, Moon Girl’s intelligence was lauded by Banner in her comic series when she solved the “impossible” Banner B.O.X. (Brain Omnicompetence Examiner), which attracted the attention of Doctor Doom, Thing, Silver Surfer, the X-Men, Wilson Fisk, and more characters. Lunella has certainly made her mark among Marvel greats, yet she is an incredibly grounded everyday heroine. It’s refreshing and heart-warming to watch her teeter between brilliance and immaturity as an unrefined hero complete with bright costumes, rollerskates, and a vibrant persona that’s perfect for an animated series. Fans have previously found that type of protagonist in Spider-Man for years, but Moon Girl is part of a class of young, non-white characters like Kamala Khan, Riri Williams, and Shuri who are all providing needed representation for a generation of nerd girls.
(c) Marvel Comics
Her life mirrors many of their experiences as intelligent social outsiders who don’t have access to certain avenues to cultivate their talents due to socioeconomic or racial bias. Girls like Lunella foster innovation with little resources and remain dreamers despite a reality that tries to put them into stereotypical boxes. Adults misconstrue their outspokenness as arrogance or indifference and some of their peers ostracize them for daring to be different.
The comic series explores Lunella’s struggle to gain acceptance into schools of her choice and decrease the chasm between herself and others. Despite this, she’s wonderfully secure in her own skin, never backs down from a war of wits, and will not shrink into a box to meet expectations despite frequent scoldings from her parents. Most importantly, Lunella takes the moniker created by her classmates to hurt her feelings (Moon Girl) and uses it to create her action alter ego. She’s the ultimate motivation for kids, especially girls of color, to be confident and bold agents of change.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has also become grounds for brown girls to work together to effect change. Lunella has teamed up with Riri “Ironheart” Williams, a younger Storm, and Ms. Marvel to not only defeat enemies, but also have moments of camaraderie based on their similar experiences. For example, Ironheart comes to help Lunella face Doctor Doom and they share a special moment in the Moon Girl lab. Lunella calls Ironheart out for dismissing her as “just a little kid” and Riri admits that she did the very thing that adults used to do to her when she was younger. She tells Lunella that she has the right to make her own choices and she will believe in her and trust her all the way. It’s a reflection of real-life for nerdy girls and women of color who seek each other out to build safe and supportive spaces.
(c) Marvel Comics
Kids aside, Moon Girl reminds all readers to stand firm in their truths, create their own identities, and use detractors as a footstool for something greater. There are some deeper questions and themes that any reader can enjoy and examine, like what it means to effect present change versus solely focusing on what you perceive to be greater. Lunella starts the series living in an idealized future in her head, completely unbothered with the world around her. But she later puts her focus on making a difference where she is right now. Her maturation arc is one older fans will recognize from various stages in their lives as they weighed the costs of what truly mattered while working towards their version of success. Above all else, her story is filled with wonder, hope, innovation, and humor – something everyone needs right now.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has the complete package – action, heart, a compelling protagonist, and a leading character who shifts the status quo in a positive direction. It’s worth checking out, whether you are a Black kid genius in a disenfranchised neighborhood, a woman who wishes she grew up with this type of hero, or someone who simply loves a great adventure with a dynamic duo. May Lunella and her prehistoric pal continue to change the world, one entertainment medium at a time.
Header Image Credit: Marvel Comics