Cartoon review: “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur”

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur TAS

Today’s cartoon review is a look at “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” an animated series (based on the Marvel comic) that launched on the Disney Channel and Disney+ in 2023. (SPOILERS below.)


Lunella Lafayette is a 13-year-old girl who lives with her parents and grandparents in New York’s Lower East Side. A super-intelligent genius, Lunella enjoys tinkering in her secret basement laboratory, and idolizes a missing scientist she nicknames “Moon Girl.” She also worries about a series of power outages harming the neighborhood. Deciding to do something about it, Lunella builds an experimental device meant to restore the power. However, Lunella discovers she created a time portal, bringing to the present a red-colored Tyrannosaurus.

Lunella decides the Lower East Side needs a superhero, between the power outages—caused by a supervillain—and the Lower East Side’s lack of attention from major heroes like the Avengers. Creating a costume, Lunella names herself “Moon Girl,” and the dinosaur “Devil Dinosaur.” The duo go on to fight crime in the Lower East Side, becoming the area’s most popular (and only) superheroes.

Most of the show’s plots revolve around Lunella trying to balance life as a superhero and life as a teenager, including maintaining a secret identity. Each episode features a musical number fitting the plot.


The Lafayette family from "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur"
The Lafayette family, from “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.” (Disney)

Besides Lunella and Devil, the show’s main cast includes:

  • The Lafayette family: Adria Lafayette and James Lafayette Jr., Lunella’s mother and father; also Mimi and “Pops,” Lunella’s grandmother and grandfather. The family runs a roller skating rink.
  • Casey Calderon: Lunella’s best friend, a part-time social media manager. She’s the only one (as of this writing) who knows about Lunella’s secret identity, and works to manage Moon Girl’s public image online and offline.
  • Eduardo: Lunella and Casey’s obnoxious classmate.
  • The Beyonder: A mischievous, reality-altering demigod-like being, who looks like he raided David Bowie’s closet. The Beyonder was sent to Earth by his people to learn about (and judge) humanity. He also provides narrator-like summary information (for the viewers) about Lunella’s foes.

Differences from the comic version

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #23
“Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” #23. Art by Natacha Bustos. (Marvel)

Like most media adaptations, the animated version of “Moon Girl” differs from the comic version. (Moon Girl was created by writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, and artist Natacha Bustos; Devil Dinosaur was created by Jack Kirby.) For starters, Lunella’s a 13-year-old in the TV series; in the comics, she’s a grade-schooler.

Lunella’s parents finally get first names in the TV series. They were originally unnamed in the comic, though Wikipedia states recent comics have given them their TV counterparts’ names.

Lunella is friendlier in the TV show. Her comics counterpart is more standoffish, and doesn’t really have any close friends (Casey was created for the TV show).

Devil in the TV show is simply from the past. The comics are vague about whether he’s from the actual prehistoric past or from a parallel Earth (or both), though seem to favor the latter these days. That’s probably because Devil in the comics had adventures with “Moon Boy,” a caveboy, before meeting Lunella.

What’s an Inhuman, and why did Marvel try to make them a thing?

A major difference from the comics is that Lunella (at least as of this writing) isn’t an Inhuman in the TV series, but an ordinary girl.

I’ve discussed this before, but to summarize: in the 2010s, the movie rights to the X-Men and mutants were with 20th Century Fox. Since Marvel for decades used “they’re a mutant” as a generic superpower origin, the movie rights included a lot of characters, such as Deadpool. Marvel decided to try turning the Inhumans (for who they still held media rights) into basically “store brand” mutants.

While created in 1965, the Inhumans (until that point) were very much B-listers. Since Inhumans had some vague similarities to mutants, Marvel figured they could fill a similar role, including as a generic superpower source. Thus, a 2013 storyline saw the world exposed to the “Terrigan Mists” (a mutagenic gas that activates powers in humans with Inhuman DNA), activating numerous people’s latent Inhuman powers. An ill-fated (and very low budget) “Inhumans” TV show aired in 2017.

Needless to say, the Inhumans push failed badly, for multiple reasons:

  • The push felt aggressive, and was clearly motivated by corporate reasons over storytelling reasons.
  • The X-Men and mutants were still being published, albeit deprioritized. So why go for the “store brand” versions of mutants over “the real thing,” to quote an old Coke slogan?
  • The Inhumans are clearly a different concept from the X-Men. While the X-Men are basically “found family as superheroes,” the Inhumans are literally “royalty as superheroes”; the core Inhuman characters, the “Royal Family,” rule over a small group of Inhuman subjects.

After Disney bought Fox’s assets in 2019, they regained the X-Men (and mutants) movie rights. The Inhumans soon went back to being B-listers, where they’ve stayed to this day. Ironically (and back on topic), Moon Girl and Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) are the only successful results of the Inhumans push, despite having no real ties to the “Royal Family” Inhumans. However, one “Moon Girl” episode sees Lunella sporadically swap bodies with Devil Dinosaur, as the result of one of Lunella’s inventions. In the comics, such body-swapping with Devil is Lunella’s Inhuman power.


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur vs a robot
“Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.” (Disney)
  • The show’s opening credits and song numbers are fun and creative.
  • Similarly, the show’s animation style is also creative. It’s also clearly influenced by “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
  • Nobody panics over or reacts (after his initial appearance) to Devil Dinosaur being, well, a dinosaur. Instead he’s treated by the LES like the overgrown dog Devil acts like. (A hot dog cart vendor feeds Devil hot dogs, etc.) Casey even calls Devil “Clifford” at one point! Given it’s the Marvel Universe version of New York, I suppose Devil isn’t the most unusual thing anyone’s seen. That, and the LES residents are just thrilled to finally get their own superhero.
  • Lunella’s smart enough to understand what Devil’s “saying” (in dinosaur growls/grunts).
  • The show makes use of, and covers, aspects of African American culture:
    • An episode about Lunella’s hair discusses hair relaxers. Lunella’s mother’s reaction to such in a flashback is hilarious, though the episode reveals it was for a good reason.
    • It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone in a cartoon playing spades. A nice change from poker, Go Fish, or bridge as the generic card game go-tos in media.
    • Lunella wakes up to hearing “oldies” playing on her family’s stereo, meaning it’s cleaning day. The song? “Just the Two of Us.”
  • Similarly, the show places an emphasis on diversity in its setting and supporting cast:
    • Casey has two Dads, at least one of whom is Jewish.
    • Lunella and Casey have a classmate, Tai, who identifies as nonbinary, and uses they/them pronouns.
    • One episode centers around gentrification.
    • A Pride flag sticker can be seen in the window of one of the LES’s shops.

Opening credits

Here’s the extended version of the opening credits:


“Moon Girl” is a pretty excellent show so far. It’s fun, has good jokes and a heart, a creative soundtrack, and is also a nice expansion on the original comics. As of this writing, I’m not sure how much the comics will take influence from the TV show, besides giving Lunella’s parents names.

Image from “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.” (Disney)


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Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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