“Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” – Behind the Themes of Community and Friendship

“I've been a fan of comic books since I was a boy,” Emmy and Tony-winner Laurence Fishburne said during a virtual TCA press conference over a year ago, speaking about the origins of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. An animated series inspired by the Marvel Comic of the same name, Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur was originally scheduled to launch last summer, but the wait is almost over. Kicking off this Friday, February 10th, the series skates its way onto Disney Channel after years of perfection. Laurence Fishburne was one of the driving forces in getting the series off the ground, serving as an executive producer in addition to voicing a recurring character, The Beyonder. “The opportunity to jump into the animation space for me was a welcome one. We worked with a guy named Jermaine for almost a year and a half, and then he got an opportunity that he couldn’t refuse, and then we hooked up with Steve [Loter], and we've put together a team of incredibly diverse people. Our team is over 50% female, in our writer's room in particular, and it's always been one of my great loves is voice acting.”

(Disney/ PictureGroup)

(Disney/ PictureGroup)

“Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland from Cinema Gypsy noticed this really amazing comic,” explained executive producer Steve Loter, whose career began in TV animation with directing and producing credits that include Kim Possible and The Ghost and Molly McGee. “They brought it to Disney TV Animation, and the potential was immense, and I had to get involved with this amazing show. I mean, the thing about it is this series is about Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, who's the first African American teen girl superhero, who also happens to be one of the smartest people in the Marvel Universe, who partners with a giant T-Rex to defend the Lower East Side of New York City. How can you say no to that? And one of the things that's really important for our show is a deep commitment to have inclusive storytelling, and to be authentic, and to have an extremely diverse voice cast and creative team to be telling these stories.”

“With this character, there is a strong sense of being Black,” shared Diamond White, the voice of Lunella Lafayette, whose career began on the stage as Young Nala in Disney’s theatrical version of The Lion King and voice work that includes Fuli on The Lion Guard. “Black women are strong women who go head-on into anything that could possibly be wrong, especially for their family, and you’ll see in the show that there’s a sense of community around the L.E.S. [Lower East Side], and of course she wants to protect it. I feel like the strength is coming out of her. She’s like, ‘Hey, man, I’ve watched my grandma and my mom grow up and be strong and watched them build a family, of course I’m going to bring my dinosaur and save the city.’”

“She sees something that’s going wrong with her community,” added Rodgeny Clouden, supervising producer on the series. “It’s very important to her, and the fact that in the story her mom says, ‘One person can make a difference.’ Her grandma says, ‘One person can make a difference,’ and that’s the message that it sends out. That’s the ongoing message through the whole thread of the series is that if one person stands up, then you can make a difference. I had the analogy of a wedding dance floor. You know, it’s empty, and it takes one person to get on that dance floor, one couple to get on that dance floor to get it started, and then slowly and slowly more and more people come, and they fill up, and it’s a party. All those people are one people, they’re one person, and that one person becomes me, so that’s the inspiration of what Moon Girl is for her community.”

In addition to a story about family and community, Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a story about friendship. “Something that Kate [Kondell, writer/co-EP) said to me when we first started was like, ‘We want to capture the real thirteen-year-old dynamic that was like that, like the PEN15 girls,’” revealed Libe Barer, who voices Lunella’s best (human) friend Casey. “That gave me and Diamond permission to really go into the awkward underbelly of the twelve, thirteen-year-old. Like, Casey has a bravado, but beneath it is the insecurity of the thirteen-year-old, and getting to tap into that with Diamond is so fun.” Although voice recording began remotely throughout 2020 and 2021, Diamond and Libe recorded their scenes together to help create the special dynamic seen between Lunella and Casey.

“There had to be the terror, but he loves Lunella so much,” voice actor Fred Tatasciore shared of finding the right balance to his performance as Lunella’s (dinosaur) best friend. “What I've really enjoyed was marrying [grunts and roars] to a lot of subtext and a lot of what he has to say and what he has to think. As we slowly go through the series, you start to see he's really saying stuff. And so it's really been fun to work with the directors and the writers and everything to come up with the sound of how would we say, ‘Yes, Lunella, let's go?..’ All I have to say is just to be part of this it's just a culturally wonderful thing.”

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur premieres on Friday, February 10th, at 8/7c on Disney Channel. The first wave of episodes will begin streaming on Disney+ on Wednesday, February 15th.

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