New Marvel series hit with backlash in exhausting gender row


New Marvel series hit with backlash in exhausting gender row

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New Marvel series hit with backlash in exhausting gender row

It’s time for yet another round of gender discourse – X-Men 97 is at the centre of it (Picture: Marvel)

In a row dubbed ‘X-them’, a voice actor on Marvel’s new X-Men 97 series has responded to backlash after it was revealed his character was non-binary.

John Paul Karliak, 42, known professionally as JP, voices Morph on the new Disney Plus series.

Morph was confirmed to be non-binary by showrunner Beau DeMayo.

Naturally, with the world (and social media) being the way that it is right now, it didn’t take long for X-Men fans to angrily voice their displeasure.

However, JP Karliak has responded defiantly, saying the backlash didn’t surprise him but that it hasn’t got him down, adding that Morph’s identity is important to the entire X-Men franchise.

Speaking on Friday, he said: ‘I’m a queer activist. I run a non-profit that advocates for queer representation. I co-founded a voter registration organisation. I know what’s going on in the world, especially politically – it didn’t surprise me at all.’

This is who they’re getting worked up about – Morph (Picture: Marvel)

He told CBR: ‘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?”.’

In the series, Morph is a mutant shapeshifter whose human form, Kevin Sydney, first appeared in Marvel X-Men comics way back in 1965, two years after the start of the comic book series.

Kevin’s first alter-ego name was Changeling, but the character was rebranded and reintroduced as Morph in the 1990s for the TV show X-Men: The Animated Series, when Rob Rubin provided the voice.

In the new series, Morph’s identity is never explicitly mentioned and his pronouns remain he/him rather than they/them, in keeping with the time-period the show takes place within.

Morph’s voice actor JP Karliak doesn’t seem bothered (Picture: Getty)

Despite this, some of those watching online haven’t taken kindly to the change. Karliak says it doesn’t bother him: ‘I haven’t taken offence with anything anybody’s published, as much as they’ve tried.’

‘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 [just thought], thanks for the promotion!’

Karliak then went into further depth and explained that, while Morph is non-binary, the show has chosen to express that in other ways, adding a reason for why the character’s pronouns have stayed the same.

‘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 human character is Kevin Sydney(Picture: Marvel)

Despite the backlash about Morph, X-Men 97 has still received widespread critical acclaim and is one of the most popular shows on Disney Plus at the moment.

On Rotten Tomatoes the series has a 98% positive rating with critics based on 47 reviews, while audiences are keen as well, giving the series a 92% positive rating.

Watch X-Men 97 on Disney Plus.

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