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X-Men ’97 star responds to anti-LGBTQ+ backlash: ‘It didn’t surprise me at all’

"What I appreciated was how much counter-backlash there was, with people like 'Have you watched the X-Men?"

By Alastair James

X-Men '97
Morph in X-Men '97 (Image: Marvel Animation)

One of the stars of X-Men ’97 has responded to the backlash over his character being identified as non-binary.

The series picks up where the X-Men: The Animated Series from the 1990s left off. It sees Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, and Co adjust to life without their leader, Professor Charles Xavier.

In the series, J.P. Karliak voices the shape-shifting mutant Morph. In the 90s series, the character seemingly died before then being controlled by the evil Mr Sinister. Before X-Men ’97 came out it was confirmed that Morph was non-binary which drew the ire of some online.

Asked about it Karliak told CBR that as a queer activist advocating for LGBTQ+ representation, “I know what’s going on in the world, especially politically, so no, it didn’t surprise me at all. Karliak runs Queer Vox which provides training and professional support for LGBTQIA+ voice actors in the entertainment industry.

He continued: “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.”

However, Karliak also told CBR that despite Morph being non-binary the term won’t be heard in X-Men ’97. “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.” Karliak added: “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.” Morph will use he/him pronouns Karliak has also confirmed.

We recently spoke to several queer men about X-Men ’97 and what the original 90s series meant to them.