Many people continue to hate Marvel’s smartest character, the 9-year-old Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, who is most often found alongside her volcano-colored, time-traveling T-Rex partner Devil Dinosaur. Lunella’s unparalleled intellect has led her to incredible victories as a superhero, and what her mind can’t solve, Devil Dinosaur typically chomps. With Marvel recently announcing the return of the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur comic in time for the arrival of their titular animated series on Disney XD in early 2022, what could it be that causes some of the disdain she faces?
Moon Girl was first introduced in 2015 when she met Devil Dinosaur, who had been transported from the pre-historic era to modern times. She then discovered that she is an Inhuman with the ability to swap consciousnesses with Devil Dinosaur. Even before she discovered her powers, she was a genius. For some, the lack of appreciation for Moon Girl comes from her being too young to be considered smarter than Marvel’s more established geniuses. To gain distinction as the smartest, the precocious Lunella completed a competency test designed by Bruce Banner to measure intelligence. Despite attempts from other super-geniuses, Lunella has been the only person to complete it, thus proving herself “the smartest one there is” – a fact she has no problem imparting to heroes and villains alike upon meeting them. In Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #47, writer Brandon Montclaire and artist Alitha E. Martinez even show Marvel’s most accomplished genius, Reed Richard is unable to complete the Banner B.O.X. after an hour when it only took Lunella a minute to complete it.
Another source of this hatred comes from the fact that Moon Girl can have a rather condescending and arrogant attitude. While it may be born from a fear that she has no place in the world as a young super-intellect, she always stands up for herself and refuses to be overlooked even by those trying to help her. For instance, Moon Girl’s only recurring allies outside of the pet-like Devil Dinosaur are the disembodied head of Doombot and a robot version of herself she made to cover at school. Lunella can be quite abrasive to her classmates, her parents, and other superheroes, once hurling a shoe at a snoring Devil Dinosaur.
As Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is aimed at a younger audience, many detractors may forget the feeling of being overlooked by adults or unacknowledged by classmates. Children know these feelings all too well. Moon Girl’s ability to stand up to anyone and everyone who attempts to belittle her is a powerful element to attract younger readers looking for a hero to connect with. Moon Girl’s power isn’t just her intelligence or ability to swap bodies with Devil Dinosaur (often completely by accident with hilarious results), but Lunella also has a kind of social power that allows her to push back without being diminished by anyone. That is the true power that younger readers want even when they dream of Wolverine’s claws or Hulk’s strength.
While some may hate Marvel’s smartest character because they feel her hyper-intelligence is unearned in a world of accomplished super scientists like Tony Stark and Reed Richards, Lunella’s condescension toward their favorite characters is a more likely cause. However, these elements serve to make her more like her super-genius contemporaries, and that combined with her obvious youth are what made her a draw for younger audiences in the first place. Plus, most everyone wants Devil Dinosaur buddy at any age. Luckily, the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur animated series is well underway for early 2022. While Moon Girl may be maligned by some, with more Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on the way, it is easy to see how much the love outweighs any hate for Marvel’s smartest character.