Meet ‘Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur’, Marvel’s Latest Female-Driven Comic Remake

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We’ll file this under: “progressive moves Marvel is making in the diversity department yet we can’t fathom why they refuse to make a female-driven superhero movie”.

Seriously Marvel, you know how to keep us guessing! They recently announced the new ‘Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’ comic book series which is a remake of the original 1978 Devil Dinosaur story by Jack Kirby. But when the current team of writers and illustrators got together to discuss ways to bring this classic to life again, the issue of diversity was a concern which led them from changing the original Moon Boy character (who was half ape), to Moon Girl.

In this version, Moon Girl is is a teenage girl by the name of Lunella Lafayette who judging by the illustrations released, loves hanging around this dangerous t-rex, and she is also a super-genius. Talk about a step up in creating a positive diverse STEM role model for teen girls!

Entertainment Weekly reports the creative team behind this new version are writers Amy Reeder (Madame Xanadu, Batwoman) and Brandon Montclare (Rocket Girl, Fear Itself: Fearsome Four), artist Natacha Bustos (Strange Sports Stories), editor Mark Paniccia and assistant editor Emily Shaw.

The idea of making a Moon Girl instead of a boy came after a conversation amongst the team found they had a limited number of characters that a wide range of audiences could relate to.

“Mark and I were talking about how whenever people come in with young kids, or even just for Mark’s own kids, we don’t have that many publications that we can give to people that have that broad reach,” Emily told EW.

“Generally, we’re skewing a little bit older with a lot of our titles and we wanted to create something that adults and kids could really love, like a Pixar feel. That’s where the tone jumped off for us.”

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Part of what enabled them to think outside the box was not having such a huge spotlight on the project which meant they were free to experiment with new ideas without the added pressure of audiences having their say. The writers and artists came up with the idea of a character that was more flawed and complex than a lot of pre-teen female characters in literature and media.

“The character lives in this world where people don’t really get her…that her brain just works a little differently than all of the other kids her age really resonated with us, and that idea of feeling sort of isolated and on your own during that very early time of life we thought was really compelling, and could really resonate with a lot of readers. That’s what really gave the story its heart at the beginning,” said Emily.

“Moon Girl is definitely a type of personality that I had in my mind for a long time, that hopefully people can identify with in different aspects. We all feel isolated or left out at times. So it’s been a joy to try to create something like this,” said writer Amy Reeder, who added that they envisioned Lunella to be a sort-of female Inspector Gadget.

While many are complaining that Marvel Studios (an entirely separate creative division to Marvel Comics, mind you) are holding back on releasing a female-driven superhero movie, it is worth noting the decisions being made that are in the name of diversity and acknowledging a much broader audience that is interesting in all things comic books and superheroes these days.

There is a Wonder Woman movie slated to be released by DC Entertainment in 2017, and little else in the way of female superheroes on the big screen. But a scan through other platforms and it looks promising. On TV series such as ‘Agent Carter’, Netflix’s ‘AKA Jessica Jones’, and CBS’ ‘Supergirl’ are steadily being brought into the mix alongside popular series likes ‘Arrow’, ‘Daredevil’, and ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’.

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If we are looking specifically at the comic universe, there seems to be a distinct trend toward changing up story lines in order not just to promote a gender agenda, but to prove these stories are just as entertaining and viable regardless of whether it is being driven by a male or female protagonist.

Ms Marvel, formerly blonde, all-American woman Carol Danvers, is now teenage Pakistani Muslim Kamala Khan whose digital sales jumped to the top of the list almost immediately after its release in Feb 2014, and topped overall sales in October 2014. No one could’ve predicted the female Thor comics would out-sell the male versions by 30% in its first year, but there ya go haters! Also, it was recently revealed that female Thor is in fact his earthly love interest, physicist Dr. Jane Foster, who also has breast cancer. Already we are seeing topics and angles being explored in a way that is indicative of Marvel’s understanding of how important their female audience is.

Having young black teen Lunella Lafayette as the new Moon Girl, in our eyes, is equivalent to Disney finally making a movie version of ‘Princess and the Frog’. All of a sudden, young black girls around the world are no longer feeling they don’t fit in in the world of princesses (already a problematic universe, but that’s another topic…) because in the end although entertainment should be about escapism and fantasy, representation is a huge part because it influences and shapes our world views whether we like it or not.

The team behind ‘Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’ are no stranger to this feeling of being given permission to “fit in”.

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“I feel a great responsibility…to be a part of the creation of something which can mean something special to so many people. I myself have come up against this dilemma (I’m half Afro-Brazilian and half Chilean besides being Spanish) of finding few or no cultural references, especially in Spain, a country where there is isn’t any community comparable to the African American community in the states,” said artist Natacha Bustos.

“For decades now, we have seen more independent publishers taking a gamble on diversification, but always within the underground scene. It’s really important that the mainstream throws up new references like these and it’s an honor to be a part of that change that Marvel is bringing to the comic book creative landscape,” she added.

“A greater number of readers are looking for characters they can identify with, and above all, with the aim that any reader, whatever their background or lifestyle, is capable of transcending their own identities to see themselves in a mirror of entertainment for 20 or 30 minutes without any difference.”

Amy Reeder said Moon Girl was created not to fit into and continue the Marvel legacy, but to show their passion for people, characters and stories. The series, which is set to be released in the Fall, will see Lunella Lafayette straddle the superhero world where she uses her alien DNA and genius mind to solve problems and situations, while also balancing being a regular teen girl and all those struggles that come along with that phase of life.

We know for certain we are excited to see this comic book series released and how audiences will react to it. If the reaction to Kamala Khan and female Thor is anything to go by, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is most certainly going to be a hit. It’s a smart move for Marvel comics to expand and diversify their fictional universe, which in a sense is closer to matching the real universe we live in.

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