At times, it feels like Marvel has taken over the world. Between the plethora of comics that roll out regularly and the powerhouse of Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe, there’s no stopping the train of this mega brand. However, there’s another Marvel world out there, one that gets overlooked frequently for whatever reason, that being some of the younger skewed animated series! While there used to be quite a few on the Disney cable stations, there are only two now. The first is Spidey and his Amazing Friends, a series for toddlers looking for their first foray into Marvel. But if you’re slightly older, Marvel has Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2, which is about to release on the Disney Channel and Disney+!
Developed by Steve Loter, Jeffrey M. Howard, and Kate Kondell, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur follows the adventures of 13-year-old Lunella Lafayette and her large and loveable prehistoric pet! With the 16-episode first season ending on a cliffhanger, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2 has a 2-episode premiere, beginning with an out-of-this-world adventure with significant ramifications for the larger Marvel landscape, possibly even the MCU! So if this Marvel animated series isn’t on your watch list yet, it definitely should be.
[Warning: Light spoilers and impressions for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2 are below!]
Lunella Lafayette is out of her element in season 2
To say that the first season of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur ended with a bang is an understatement. In the two-part finale, “O.M.G.! Issue #1” & “O.M.G.! Issue #2”, Lunella’s (Diamond White) life is completely turned upside down with the discovery that her grandmother, Mimi (Alfre Woodard) was the original Moon Girl. Not only that, but she worked with the Enclave, the evil organization that created a portal generator, as a scientist. Together, Mimi and Lunella have to stop the generator before a wormhole opens up and swallows her universe up! No pressure right?
The writers resolve this storyline before the closing moments of season one, with Lunella dropping into the wormhole, as the only way to close it up is from both sides. It ends with Mimi declaring her intention to find Lunella no matter what. Lunella on the other hand wakes up in a void, unsure of where she is or what her next step should be. This is the exact moment that Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2 picks up.
In the aftermath, she’s hurdling through a vortex, unsure of where she’s going to land, when none other than The Beyonder (Laurence Fishburne) shows up to save the day. He doesn’t take her home, but to another universe. If that wasn’t a big enough problem, something seems to be going on with The Beyonder’s powers, essentially meaning that the duo are stuck on a foreign planet with no way home.
This is just the premise of the first episode, “The Great Beyond-er”, which was a totally bombastic way to open up the season. But Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur doesn’t stop there, as the first episode has major repercussions for Lunella, who struggles with her identity as a result.
The positives and negatives of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2
There’s a level of sophistication present in the four episodes I saw so far, which you don’t always see on a younger skewed animated series. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur strives to balance cartoon fun with realistic issues that people deal with. Within these episodes, we see Lunella having to deal with anxiety, which is something so many struggle with.
The series explores this topic delicately and with a ton of grace, which I wasn’t really expecting. It’s on par with many adult series I watch, helping to bring normalcy to this mental health issue. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the show, normalizing something that may feel anything but normal. This approach shows children, and adults who are watching as well for that matter, that there is nothing shameful about mental health struggles. If someone who is a hero can experience that, then we all can.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur also share the message that anyone can be a hero, with or without powers. A few times they mention that Lunella doesn’t have any powers, but with her mind, she’s able to problem-solve and find solutions. This is perhaps the greatest superpower and one that should be encouraged. Lunella is a fantastic role model to look up to, especially for young girls and POC, who are largely underrepresented in comics.
The Beyonder is hands down one of my favorite characters from the series. Fishburne does an exceptional job as the flamboyant out-of-this-world being, who is so used to things going his way. The conflict that The Beyonder hits in these early episodes puts him in an interesting predicament, providing him with one of the best moments of character growth. The writers and creators of this show bring such development to these characters, which elevates Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur from a basic animated show to something truly special.
The relationship between Lunella and Mimi is another prime example of why this series feels so special. Mimi is super supportive of her granddaughter, which might be because she’s one of the few who knows her secret. Their shared experience with Moon Girl has bonded these two in a way that is beyond simple relatives. They are each other’s support, there to help each other out of precarious situations, both physical and mental. It’s touching to see these two so close, with Mimi like a second mother to both Lunella and Devil Dinosaur.
Final thoughts on Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
When I picked up this show to watch, I didn’t have many expectations for it. It’s a children’s show, how impactful can it be? I’ve seen enough of Dora the Explorer and Paw Patrol because of my nephews to know that not every show is life-changing. However, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur isn’t in the same league as these other children’s shows. This is above and beyond those, feeling aimed at both children and adults for different reasons. I can watch this with my mother and my nephews, and we’ll all gain something different from the same episode.
There is depth and richness to this world and characters, from the style of art to the vibrant colors that bring Moon Girl and her universe alive. It feels like it’s ripped from the pages of a comic book, but also can be something fun to watch or beautiful to look at for anyone, not just those who love comics.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is something special. It’s an incredible work of art in every aspect. The rich world of characters is brought to life with an impeccable voice cast, who I hope eventually makes it into the wider MCU, which after the first episode feels closer to reality. If you haven’t checked it out, you should soon. Because it feels important, not just for its potential connection to the MCU, but for the fantastic representation and visualization of a comic book world for all children to dream about.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2 arrives February 2 on Disney Channel. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you have seen the first season and plan on watching season 2!