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'90s X-Men reboot confirms 'nonbinary' character for Disney+ animated series
Image via IGN / YouTube (screenshot)

'90s X-Men reboot confirms 'nonbinary' character for Disney+ animated series

A highly anticipated reboot of popular 1990s cartoon "X-Men: The Animated Series" will change an existing character to be "nonbinary" for the new episodes, the showrunner has confirmed.

More than a month before the series' launch on Disney+, Marvel's "X-Men '97" executive producer, Beau DeMayo, revealed that a pivotal character will be presented as nonbinary, meaning they do not identify with either gender.

The original series aired from 1992-1997 and has since been heralded as one of the greatest cartoons of its era. The reboot has also had fans clamoring for nostalgia, with the trailer receiving just over 3 million views in its first six hours.

As reported by Bounding into Comics however, the character Morph — who appears in the very first episode of the original — is adapted with a "lighter" approach, despite his apparent gender confusion.

The change was confirmed by DeMayo in an interview with Empire Magazine set to appear in the April 2024 issue.

"The death of shapeshifter Morph in the original animated series (it didn't stick, obviously) was shocking for young viewers, and it stuck with DeMayo," the excerpt read. "'He really set the stakes,' [DeMayo] says, 'and he had a very interesting relationship with the team because of trauma.'"

"This is a lighter take on the character, who is nonbinary and has an interesting buddy relationship with Wolverine. The character's past with Mister Sinister, the show's villain, could also come into play."

The character is not typically remembered by casual fans, but had a pivotal role in the original 1990s pilot, in which he saves Wolverine from an attack and is killed. He is later revealed to have been rescued from the attack by a villain who then turns him evil.

Morph later rejoins the X-Men and becomes a mainstay in their group.

Although the mutant's power is shape-shifting from a cellular level, he was never portrayed in either print or the cartoons as "nonbinary," which of course was not in any youngster's vernacular in the 1990s.

Perhaps an argument in favor of the change would be that Morph can change into a woman (or any person he pleases), but his default appearance was always a male. In artwork for the reboot, he now appears alien-like even alongside other characters who generally appear the same as the original drawings.

During a 2023 Marvel livestream event regarding the series, DeMayo stated that one of his goals for "X-Men '97" was to "really drill down to what I think the X-Men’s always going to be about which is just, you know, we talk a lot about the dream is social acceptance and it’s social justice."

"I think that can sometimes make certain people feel alienated, and for me, it’s always going to come down to, I think, the X-Men and what we’re going to be trying to do with this series is talking about the power of empathy, and how it can kind of heal these wounds that turn people against each other," the creator opined. "That things like racism and bigotry don’t ‘just exist’ – there’s a reason behind it that empathy can kind of help us connect and build those bridges where we can actually say, ‘Hey, we are all different, but we have these little things that can still connect us.'"

Only time will tell whether fans will press play on the new series or whether it will be chalked up as just another woke blunder for Marvel.

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