'Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur' Should Join The Marvel Cinematic Universe In Phase 4
Marvel has just unveiled the newest comic book series in its pedigreed lineup, and I already need it to be a movie, like, yesterday. Scheduled for its official debut this fall, Marvel's new comic book Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur (as revealed in Entertainment Weekly) will tell the story of a "pre-teen super genius named Lunella Lafayette" and her bright red Tyrannosaurus Rex companion. I know it's too late to insert a new film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's meticulously planned Phase 3 lineup, but they should absolutely make this a priority when Phase 4 rolls around in 2020, because Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur could absolutely be the new Rocket Raccoon and Groot... except even better, because dinosaurs.
According to EW, this new comic will actually be an adaptation of an old series simply called Devil Dinosaur , which ran for a mere nine issues back in 1978. In that iteration, Devil Dinosaur hailed from a parallel Earth called Dinosaur World, where humans lived alongside the gigantic reptiles, in a plot strikingly similar to the upcoming Pixar movie The Good Dinosaur . In the first issue of Devil Dinosaur, a young T-Rex was captured by the Killer-Folk and nearly roasted over a fire, before being rescued by Moon Boy, a hairy ape-child from the rival tribe of Small-Folk. Naturally, the Killer-Folk's flames turned Devil Dinosaur's green skin bright red and imbued him with special powers including human-level intelligence and super-strength. From that moment on, Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy were inseparable.
Although Devil Dinosaur was quickly cancelled, the character continued to appear in one-shots and cameos throughout the years, interacting with other Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Deadpool, Godzilla (natch), and, yes, the Avengers. For his revival series, Devil Dinosaur has been paired with Moon Girl instead of Moon Boy, and he's been relocated from prehistoric Dinosaur World to modern day New York City.
There are a lot of reasons why a film adaptation of this comic would be super exciting. Most obviously, dinosaurs are incredibly hot right now thanks to the spectacular success of Jurassic World this summer; Marvel would be remiss not to capitalize on our culture's current dino craze. How awesome would it be to watch a giant red T-Rex stomp his way into battle alongside the Hulk and sink his teeth into some nasty intergalactic villains? But the main reason Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur could be such a good fit for the MCU is the diversity it would bring to the franchise.
Lunella Lafayette would be an unprecedented protagonist for a Marvel movie. As is well documented, most leads in the MCU to date has been a straight white man. Marvel is already seeking to rectify this oversight in Phase 3, which will introduce the studio's first diverse lead (Black Panther) and its first female lead (Captain Marvel). They will also introduce their first superhero that's not approaching (or past) middle age when 19-year-old Tom Holland debuts as Spider-Man in next year's Captain America: Civil War. But Lunella — a pre-teen, black female — would certainly be a first for Marvel... heck, a first for any superhero movie EVER.
A Moon Girl movie would provide ample opportunity for increased diversity behind the scenes, as well. Of the five people working on the comic series, three of them — one of the two writers (Amy Reeder), one of the two editors (Emily Shaw), and the artist (Natacha Bustos) — are women. I imagine that this creative team would aim for similar diversity behind the camera, were Moon Girl ever chosen for a feature film adaptation. To date, no female director has helmed an MCU movie — Monster filmmaker Patty Jenkins signed on to direct Thor: The Dark World before departing over creative differences less than two months later, and Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay briefly flirted with directing Black Panther before ultimately turning it down. (Jenkins has since been hired by Warner Bros. to direct their DC movie Wonder Woman.) Of the 28 credited screenwriters that have worked or are working on the 22 MCU films in Phases 1-3, a whopping TWO have been women: Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote Guardians Of The Galaxy with James Gunn (although he's taking over sole scripting duties for the sequel), and Meg LeFauve, who is co-writing Captain Marvel with Perlman.
The way editor Emily Shaw describes Moon Girl, the series would be a perfect fit for a big screen adventure. Her fellow editor "Mark [Paniccia] 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,” she told Entertainment Weekly . “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." (It's slightly ironic that Shaw quotes Pixar as inspiration, since it notoriously took that studio 17 years to make a movie with a female protagonist, and they still haven't had a diverse actor or actress in a lead role.)
Artist Natacha Bustos, who is herself "half Afro-Brazilian and half Chilean besides being Spanish," feels "tremendously honored" to be working on Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur. Illustrating such a unique protagonist carries with it a certain amount of power, and you don't have to ask Spider-Man what that power comes with. "I also feel a great responsibility," Bustos acknowledged. She elaborated:
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. 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.
So, other than her superficial characteristics, what makes Moon Girl special? According to Shaw, Lunella "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."
I'm sure Moon Girl will resonate with many comic book readers across the country. But the reality is, the demographic of people who read Marvel comics is much, much smaller than those who go see Marvel movies. If Marvel really wants to resonate with audiences and be a guiding force for diversity in the mainstream, they should seriously consider making Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur their next major superhero film in Phase 4.
Image: Marvel Comics