‘Marvel’s Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur’ Bosses Discuss Bringing First Black Female Superhero Animated Series to Life: “It’s Black Girl Magic”

Move over the diamond; It seems dinosaurs are a girl’s best friend. At least, that’s the case with Lunella Lafayette (Diamond White). Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Based on the comic book of the same name, the series follows Lunella, a black 13-year-old Manhattanite who uses her genius to accidentally visualize a giant red devil dinosaur (Fred Tatascior) through a time portal she created. Fortunately for Lunella and the entire Lower East Side neighborhood, she befriends the prehistoric creature and uses their unique partnership to fight crime in the Moon Girl’s underworld.

Another unique thing about the animated show, brought to life by actor Laurence Fishburne and producer Helen Sugland, is that it makes Marvel history for featuring the first black female lead in a Marvel television show. Lunella’s onscreen debut adds to the recent progress and inclusion that Marvel has made in showcasing tech-loving and family-oriented black women in film. black leopard and forthcoming Ironheart series

“Just by saying that statement we have to measure it means it’s been a long time coming and it needs to be,” says supervising producer Rodney Clouden. “Just to have a character like Lunella as Moon Girl, a young black girl who’s on STEM and she’s about her family and community, a girl role model can make a difference. It’s a big deal that she’s a 13-year-old girl who A superhero may be, but he’s not just his superpower; his brain is his superpower.”

Here, showrunner and executive producer Steve Lotter and Clouden discuss the importance of representation, playing in the Marvel character sandbox, and their inspiration for the series.

Deadline: How did Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur come to life? Did Laurence Fishburne come to you first? Or did you all work together to pitch this show to Disney?

Steve Lotter: It all started with Laurence Fishburne in a comic book store [laughs]. He loved comic books and fell in love with Marvel Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur Because he had read [the original 1970s comic] Moon Boy and the Devil Dinosaur When she was little. He then approached Helen Sugland, his producing partner at Cinema Gypsy, which created The Amazing Company black-ish, big-ish, mixed-ish, And said, “I think it needs to be an animated show.” And Helen agreed. So Disney and Marvel were called, and when Movie Gypsy called, you took the call [laughs]. And everyone agreed, “Yeah, that’s an amazing idea for an animated series.” So, they just went ahead and said, “We have to do this.”

Deadline: Moon Girl is the first black female lead character in a Marvel superhero show. It is historical. What did it mean for you to bring this iteration of the character to life?

Rodney Clouden: It takes on a lot. Just by saying this statement we have to measure it means that it has been a long time coming, and it has to happen. Just to have a character like Lunella as Moon Girl, a young black girl who is on STEM and she’s about her family and community, a girl model can make a difference. It’s a big deal that she’s a 13-year-old girl who happens to be a superhero, but it’s not just her superpowers; His brain is his super power. So, we wanted to spotlight that aspect of it and the intelligence he uses with his gadgets to fight crime. He is a role model that anyone else can admire and aspire to. So it’s really important, especially its debut during Black History Month.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur – “Moon Girl Landing” (Marvel) Moon Girl


Deadline: It’s great to see specific episodes centered around hyper-specific issues within black culture. For example, in the episode where Lunella struggles to love her natural hairstyle and resorts to a harmful chemical relaxer. Can you discuss the balance between certain cultural narratives and more universal ones?

Lotter: From the beginning, representation is important. And that’s something that Lawrence said at the beginning of the production that I think resonated a lot, you know? You can’t be what you can’t see. And I thought that was an important message for us to create the show with that in mind. We also see Lunella as a 13-year-old teenager with problems because, as she grows up, intelligence does not equal wisdom. So, he goes through the issues and problems that we all face as 13-year-olds, and every episode was thematically built around that. For example, there is an episode about impatience and another episode about jealousy. We explore it through his lens, but again, it’s something we’ve all experienced and had to happen in our lives, but we’ll find the villain of that particular episode reflecting that same thematic element. So his real-world adventures were mirroring his superhero adventures. But it was really important for us, as Rodney mentioned, to make sure we told a deep story. We wanted something relatable and emotional, but it was imperative that it be through the lens of Lunella Lafayette.

Clouden: To add to the specificity of things, she’s a black girl. If she’s a Latina girl or an Asian girl, there are certain characteristics that you can lean on to tell the story, but the content is universal. So, it’s just that it’s the same story, just in a different package. I think specificity is good because it is authentic in representing a certain segment of society. Still, the story is universal and relatable to everyone, and I think it works. For the Hair episode, every time we go into a topic, we’re trying to figure out how we can address it visually or write it in a unique way and not just the original thing you’ve seen before.

Deadline: Considering this is a show for a younger audience, was there anything challenging about distinguishing between the comic book material and the show? Did you have any challenges adapting to any particular character?

Lotter: We love comic books and their writers and artists, Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclair and Natacha Bustos. The work they did was definitely an inspiration and a springboard for the show. But when you re-translate something into a different medium, it changes and transforms to meet the needs of that medium. So, even though the comic was a launching pad, we recognized early on that even though it was primarily made for a kids market, we wanted to make it four quadrants. My experience in feature film really opened my eyes to being able to create something that would be for everyone, including parents and kids. You want to bring things into the narrative that can spark conversation between parents and children, so it was really important to me to make sure there was enough narrative engagement to bring the whole family to the table.

Clouden: With how the writers wrote the script and how we directed the specifics [topics], we have made sure to respect our audience no matter what age you are. For example, my son is 10, and he’s pretty smart about understanding storylines and things like that, and I think there are a lot of kids who are pretty smart. As Steve said, we built the script in a way that led to discussion, and we didn’t want to “dumb down” the show, so to speak. We wanted to make it a sophisticated and sophisticated children’s show through writing, art, and even music.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur – “The Borough Bully” (Marvel) Devil Dinosaur, Moon Girl


DEADLINE: One of the characters you’ve adapted differently from the comics is the Beyonder, played here as a flamboyant, charismatic man with the voice of Laurence Fishburne. Considering he’s also such an obscure character, how did he end up as a fun new addition to the series?

Lotter: Well, it’s funny because Beyonder was a suggestion from Kevin Feige himself, who thought it would be a perfect foil for Lunella to deal with. And we’re all huge Marvel fans. We grew up with comic books, and we love movies and TV shows, so the opportunity to play in that sandbox is incredible. But since we’ve been fans for a long time, we have extensive knowledge of obscure Marvel characters. So, when we were making this show, we thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great to pull some characters that we grew up with that might be obscure, that maybe Marvel hasn’t done a lot of yet, and put them on the show.” Just them. Not to give them their moment in the sun, but to give them a chance to be the right characters for the right story.

Clouden: The Beyonder may not be well-known to those who aren’t into the general public of comic books, but he is a major character in the Secret Wars comic books. So, if you’re into comic books and Marvel lore, he’s a big deal. But we got a chance to put our spin on it and take on his character, making him a little more fun and likable. And then, when you add Lawrence’s performance to it, he brings a certain element of fun and gravitas to it, mischief and menace. A little dangerous… the man is dangerous. He is very strong. He can have fun. He comes across as fun and playful, but he can do a lot with the snap of his fingers.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur – “Moon Girl Landing” (Marvel) James Jr., Adria, Lunella, Pops, Mimi


Deadline: The animation style also reflects this energetic vibrancy and graffiti style; What were some of the influences here?

Lotter: Spider-Verse It was inspiring to open doors to be more creative and take risks and push the envelope of design in music and animation. We were looking and asking ourselves, “How can we do this? How can we do it ourselves Spider-Verse?” But instead of copying it, we wanted to put our own flag in the sand and we wanted to do it on a TV budget. But we wanted to have something that stood out from the crowd and thought about what New York is. How do we represent New York in the best way possible? Present? And we have this comic book element, so we have to marry that aspect of New York and present this comic book in the best possible light.

Clouden: We started drawing from pop art influences like Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring, and graffiti style and comic book style. And then a little bit of Mark Hempel, a comic book artist, and UPA and Saul Bass. The show features a mix of a wide variety of old and new influences. Abstract art has different influences, so we all threw it in a blender and then made it happen. You can see it with background; You have textures, layers, half-tones, and all that, plus pen and ink styles and black dots to smudge over letters. We think these styles marry each other, not compete against each other. And then with the animation style, you have a combination of Zippy and Puppy, and then you have moments where you have to focus on the dialogue or the danger of the situation, and we slow it down, and it’s a little bit. more fluid. And adding the modernity of emoji pop-ups to convey communication was great.

DEADLINE: What do you hope viewers will get out of this show?

Lotter: I love the show, the message and families can watch it together. And I think that show is really inspiring. I believe Lunella Lafayette, the first African-American teen girl superhero on the scene whose superpowers are her brain is a pivotal moment in time. I think the art style is appealing. I think the music is crazy good. Raphael Sadiq is our music executive producer, and I think he’s elevated the material to places we never dreamed of. So, I think it’s got something for everyone because what Disney and Marvel do so well is they tell stories with great action, great comedy and a lot of heart and really feel like you’re on a great adventure.

Clouden: Yes, and it’s black girl magic. We need to see more of this, and I think everyone will be able to see Lunella and relate to her problems and situations. The show is for everyone from eight to 80, and I think everyone will get something out of it no matter who watches it.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Currently airing episodically on Disney Channel and will stream on Disney+ starting February 15

[This interview has been edited for length and clarity]

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