‘X-Men ’97’ Morph Voice Actor On Backlash Over Describing Character As Non-Binary: “It Didn’t Surprise Me At All”

J.P. Karliak, the actor who voices Morph on Disney+’s X-Men ’97, is opening up about the backlash the show received after Marvel Animation described the character as non-binary.

X-Men ’97 showrunner Beau DeMayo, who has since exited the show, confirmed to Empire for their April 2024 issue that Morph was non-binary, which sent some fans into a tailspin.

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The reaction from a certain sector of fans didn’t surprise Karliak, telling CBR in an interview, “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,” he added.

Morph is a shapeshifter mutant, and the X-Men have been seen as an allegory for the civil rights movement in the U.S.

Karliak said that he hasn’t “taken offense 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,” he continued. “I was like, ‘Facts. No lies here, thanks for the promotion!'”

Although the creator of the animated series referred to Morph as non-binary, the term isn’t actually used in the show.

“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,” Karliak explained. “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.”

X-Men ’97 streams on Disney+ with new episodes dropping every Wednesday.

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