Laurence Fishburne will produce the show based on the Marvel comic book.
If you dig Letitia Wright’s character, Shuri, in Black Panther, then Disney has something else that’s similar in store for you on the way. Deadline reports that the studio is currently working with Laurence Fishburne to produce an animated television series based on the Marvel comic book “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.”
Disney has scored a massive worldwide hit with the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Crowds are especially appreciating the prominence of black heroes and the deep cultural history that’s shared on the screen. They’re also responding favorably to its powerful black women. The Dora Milaje are fierce and passionate. If box office and social media are any indicators, the world is saying, “Yes, please. More of this.” Well, it would seem Disney is listening.
We talk a lot about representation, the importance of seeing ourselves on screen, and how people respond to it. Shuri is one character in particular who struts through Black Panther in a way that Tony Stark never could. And it’s wonderful. The Dora Milaje and Shuri are a delight for the same reason that people have responded to Wonder Woman so passionately. Women kick ass. And there aren’t enough of them on screen.
But, it isn’t just that they kick ass. Black Panther is full of conflicted characters, with different view points. Shuri is great because she doesn’t put up with the bullshit and protocol that is expected of her. Yeah, she’s a princess. But, so what? She’s a mechanical, technological genius powering the development of the world’s most advanced civilization first. Where would T’Challa be without her badass tech?
Moon Girl is a great pick to carry that feeling forward. She’s a precocious kid, yes. I suppose. And her stories are adventures ripe for an animated series. However, she’s not just a bright pre-teen kid. Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, is an Inhuman. Her special abilities include being a real-deal genius and, uh, the ability to swap bodies with a giant red Tyrannosaurus.
When we say Moon Girl is a genius, we mean she’s in a league above fellow Marvel smarties Mr. Fantastic, Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, and Tony Stark. She is the smartest. That’s a major driving point of her story. She’s underestimated, precisely because she’s a young African-American girl.
It’s also why making her partner up with Devil Dinosaur works so great as a narrative element. She’s got all the pent up rage of being dismissed. When she really needs to let loose and strut her anger at the nonsense she’s forced to put up with by people who judge her based on her looks and her age, well… Giant. Red. Tyrannosaurus. Because she will tear down your whole system.
The studio and Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions are still putting together the details of the project. And it’s currently undecided where it will air. Whether it winds up on Disney Junior or Disney XD will make a huge difference in the way in which they tell the story. Disney XD is currently winding up its most excellent Star Wars Rebels series. While made for kids, that show has featured challenging themes and lasting consequences for its characters. Hopefully, Disney sees Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur as something which could follow in the same spirit.
It isn’t just what we see on the screen. Disney is a major marketer of kids toys and clothing, too. Their show choices influence more than what’s available on streaming at any given time. There isn’t a whole lot out there beyond pink stuff and princess gear for girls. And that’s a big problem.
Wouldn’t it be cool if young girls could buy a t-shirt featuring a superhero that was marketed to them and stocked in their section? Or, maybe something which celebrates STEM? American Girls’ current “Girl of the Year” is Luciana Vega, who is an aspiring astronaut. Trust me, it’s a hot item.
I’d spend a chunk of change on some Moon Girl clothing merch for my girls. Math is cool, and girls are superheroes.
A television show certainly won’t fix all that in one go. Let’s push things forward, though. Let’s keep the moment rolling from Wonder Woman to Shuri to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. It’s a big deal.