‘X-Men ’97’ Voice Actor Discusses Morph Being Non-Binary and Fan Backlash

X Men 97 Voice Actor Discusses Morph Being Non Binary and Fan Backlash
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Last week, ‘X-Men ’97’ debuted to rave reviews from fans and critics alike, kicking off with two highly praised episodes. With a flawless 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the future appears promising for Marvel animation.

While the series maintains the essence of the beloved ’90s ‘X-Men: The Animated Series,’ some adjustments were made to characters, plots, and animation styles. One alteration that sparked controversy was the portrayal of Morph as non-binary.

If you’re new to the comics, Morph’s ability is shapeshifting, which inspired the decision to make them non-binary. J.P. Karliak, the voice actor for Morph, addressed the fan criticism in a recent interview with CBR.

I’m a queer activist. 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. 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.

Karliak also explained how he was personally attacked for voicing the character:

There was one article that called me a radical queer activist and listed the insidious mission statement of my organization [Queer Vox] — verbatim of what was on the website, I was like, ‘Facts. No lies here, thanks for the promotion!

Morph’s non-binary identity was confirmed by the show’s creator, Beau DeMayo, who was fired just a week before the premiere. Although fans were aware of this detail, the term was never explicitly used in the show. Karliak explained the reason behind this:

Two things about that – one, as far as I know, we’re never going to say the word ‘non-binary’ because nobody said the word ‘non-binary’ in the ’90s. It’s not that it didn’t exist; it was just in no way a mainstream term at the time. Morph’s understanding of who he is could equate to what a modern person would say is non-binary, but he just doesn’t have the terminology for it. At the same time, they/them wasn’t a concept in terms of using it as a pronoun.

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