If you’ve been following the adventures of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (written by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, artwork by Natacha Bustos), you probably love Lunella Lafayette as much as I do. Marvel’s smartest character is spunky, enthusiastic, and super likable. But Lunella is more than that. She represents the spirit that we want to instill in all girls – and women, as well. Just what is it that makes Lunella such a special character?
She’s awesome at STEM
As we’re all painfully aware, STEM fields are still dominated by men. And while perceptions are changing, the old idea that men have more “logical” brains and are therefore somehow inherently better at math and science has still not died (though it’s past time for it to be beaten into the ground). So seeing a girl like Lunella, who loves science and is amazing at it, is important. Seeing more and more representations of female characters who excel in STEM fields starts to eat away at the old, sexist tropes of women being less suited for those roles. And what’s more, Lunella’s not the only young female in the Marvel universe who’s rocking science. Fifteen-year-old Riri Williams just reverse engineered the freakin’ Iron Man suit!
Lunella knows who she is. She’s not like the other kids at school – mostly because her intelligence means she’s interested in things that are pretty advanced for her age. But she doesn’t try to dumb herself down to fit in. Even though her parents kind of want her to be a little more “normal,” she’s not buying it. She’s perfectly happy with herself exactly as she is. So often, young girls are portrayed as uncertain, vulnerable characters, but Lunella is the opposite of that. She believes in herself and she’s proactive and empowered. You really have to love watching this young girl of color as she goes up against Kid Kree without doubting herself or questioning whether she’s up for the challenge – she knows she is!
She allows herself to grow
When we first meet Lunella, she’s not especially interested in being a superhero. She wants to be a scientist! And when she encounters Amadeus Cho, she’s a little irritated because, to her, it seems like he’s valuing his physical strength over his intelligence. But eventually, she realizes that she and her prehistoric sidekick can make an impact by fighting bad guys– and stopping Kid Kree. And, at the end of issue #9, Ms. Marvel shows up on the scene. Kamala could be a powerful mentor for Lunella in a lot of ways, and I’m guessing she’ll help her start to see the bigger picture of what she can do with her intelligence and abilities. So while Lunella will likely always put her love of science first, she’s starting to understand that she has potential in areas she may not have considered. And I’m betting she’ll ultimatelt put her scientific acumen to use as a superhero.
Lunella is amazing – and she’s exactly the type of character we need to see more of! She’s a great example for young girls who are interested in comics or STEM, and her stories are a lot of fun for adults to read, as well.