While the trend to revive shows and bring them back from the dead is working well for Marvel, the studio realized that it had to keep it relevant for the masses today. The world has come a long way from the 1990s when things were more conservative and many prominent concepts of today were not widely known. With X-Men ‘97, the showrunners fulfilled Kevin Feige’s two demands to bring the show back while at the same time adding a layer of resonance for the young audience.

Morph in X-Men ‘97 is Non-Binary

Morph in X-Men '97
Morph in X-Men ’97

The shape-shifting mutant Morph in the show X-Men ‘97 was announced as a non-binary character. Previously voiced by Ron Rubin, the mantle for Morph is taken ahead by J.P. Karliak. The character works on finding himself in the midst of their ever-changing personalities. He survives death and comes back stronger to join the X-Men and help them fulfill their missions.

Also Read: Marvel Animation Boss on Why X-Men ’97 is a Trailblazer: “We’re always standing on the shoulders of giants”

Karliak was drawn to the project because of how Marvel molded the show to fit modern relevance. The animated series back then never mentioned the term non-binary on TV since it was not something people understood. But today, things have changed and we see Karliak own the character’s persona. Moreover, Karliak identified with Morph on the same grounds, making him eager to voice the character. In an interview with CBR, he expressed,

“There are so many ways I identify with Morph, but one of them is that I personally identify as gender-queer, which some might say is an offshoot of non-binary, but I use he/him pronouns. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m in my 40s and I came into my full understanding of my gender in my late 30s. I’ve always used he/him pronouns, and they feel like an old college sweatshirt, where maybe they don’t fit all that well, but they’re still really comfy and, until I find something better, I’ll just keep using that.”

X-Men '97
X-Men ’97

Today, people are becoming increasingly comfortable with the realities and truths that they have been living with for a long time. It’s commendable for Marvel to not tiptoe around the topic and embrace it within the confines of the story. Modern-day Morph fits into the realms of societal understanding and his true personality does not need hiding anymore.

Also Read: One Spider-Man Show is Perfect for an MCU Resurrection after X-Men ’97 if This Marvel Rumor is True

Backlash against Morph’s identity

X-Men '97
X-Men ’97

While we would like to believe that modern society is evolved and comfortable enough to tackle sensitive topics, some people always prove otherwise. Take the current backlash for making Morph non-binary for example. People were upset about giving the character a new identity when in reality, it was just not explicitly mentioned in the past. As a queer activist, Karliak was prepared for the negativity he would receive as he shared in an interview with CBR,

“I run a nonprofit that advocates for queer representation. I also co-founded a voter registration organization. I know what’s going on in the world, especially politically, so no, it didn’t surprise me at all. [laughs] I think what I appreciated was how much counter-backlash there was, with people like “Have you watched the X-Men? Are you familiar with why they were created and what they’re about? Did you forget that?” That was reassuring.”

As Karliak expresses, there was an outpour of relief also, as Marvel was giving the character space to be himself. Despite being non-binary, Morph uses he/him pronouns and is comfortable with the same. Moreover, Karliak shared that he did not take offense with any published material and instead saw that as free publicity for his work and organization.

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