A Crash Course in Marvel’s Upcoming ‘New Mutants’ Movie, the First Superhero-Horror Mashup
Yesterday saw the release of the first trailer for Marvel’s upcoming New Mutants movie, the 11th film in Fox’s X-Men franchise. Directed by Josh Boone and heading to theaters on April 13, 2018, the film brings an all-new cast of mutants to the big screen, and we can’t f@#king wait!
But who are the New Mutants? For those who didn’t grow up reading about this team in comic books between 1982 and 1991, here’s a crash course on the upcoming New Mutants movie and its origins on the page.
Who Are the New Mutants?
Much like the X-Men in the beginning, the New Mutants are a team of teenage mutants, each with their own particular powers, who typically fight off non-human threats, all the while being misunderstood and persecuted by humans who hate them for being different. One thing that made this team particularly cool was its racial/ethnic diversity.
Throughout the years, the team has seen a rotating roster of around 20 mutants, but the New Mutants movie is doing it right, bringing us the original team:
Cannonball, who hails from Kentucky and can rocket through the air as his name suggests. In the film, he’s played by Charlie Heaton, who you know from the Netflix series Stranger Things.
Mirage, a Cheyenne Native American who can psionically project people’s fears and desires as three-dimensional illusions. With the real name Danielle Moonstar, she’s played by actress Blu Hunt in the New Mutants movie.
Sunspot is a Brazilian teen who can absorb the power of the sun. It gives him super-strength and flight, and turns him into a black void (though we’re not sure we’ll see that latter part in the film). He’s played by Henry Zaga (13 Reasons Why), though technically we already saw the character of Sunspot in X-Men: Days of Future Past, played by Adan Canto.
Wolfsbane, a Scottish teen girl, turns into a werewolf. In the New Mutants movie she’s played by Maisie Williams, who we all know as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones. In the comics, Wolfsbane (real name Rahne Sinclair) comes from a very religious family, which is rough on her as she initially gains her powers.
To that original team, the New Mutants movie is adding one more character, who wasn’t an OG but was added not long into the title’s run:
Magik, real name Illyana Rasputin, is the younger sister of Colossus (an X-man who we’ve seen in multiple films, including Deadpool, and will return for the upcoming Deadpool 2). She is not only a mutant but a sorceress, and she’s able to teleport anywhere on earth by way of Limbo. She’s portrayed in the film by The Witch actress Anya Taylor-Joy.
Also added to the New Mutants movie is Dr. Cecilia Reyes, a mutant character who never crossed paths with this New Mutants team in the comics but is kinda a cool addition. Her power is that she can generate a protective shield around her entire body. Alice Braga plays her in the film.
In 2003 there was a new, second incarnation of the New Mutants team, featuring an all-new team. But none of those characters lasted long. A third incarnation of the New Mutants title, featuring the original team, happened in 2009.
How will the New Mutants movie be different?
Well, if you watched the New Mutants movie trailer, you probably noticed something huge: The film much more resembles a horror film than your typical superhero fare. Indeed, Josh Boone has teased in interviews that he has a trilogy planned for the New Mutants series, each of which will resemble a different type of horror film. (Also, he’s teased that the next New Mutants movie will feature two additional beloved characters: original leader Karma, a Vietnamese girl who could possess others’ bodies, and Warlock, a techno-organic alien who can assume any shape.)
Boone told Entertainment Weekly in May that he grew up in a very religious household, and his childhood was characterized by two great loves: Marvel Comics and Stephen King. The latter, along with A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, play obvious influence on his new film.
Speaking about the film’s horror leanings, Boone told IGN, “I think of the mainline X-Men movies more as grand operative science-fiction films. This is much more of a performance-driven horror film.”
The New Mutants movie is indeed part of the larger X-Men cinematic universe, just like the Wolverine and Deadpool films, though it doesn’t sound like the New Mutants are going to be interacting with the actual X-Men. (But who can say, really?) Boone did reportedly say in one interview that Professor X would appear, played by James McAvoy.
What are we gonna see in the New Mutants movie?
A lot is pretty obvious from the trailer: a group of teenage mutants are being experimented on in what’s most likely a government-run facility. (It’s actually a real 150-year-old former asylum that was previously used in the film Shutter Island.) Could Marvel Films be tying in the X-Men’s big baddie Mr. Sinister, who loves the idea of genetic experimentation on mutants and who was teased at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse? We shall see!
One thing we do know is that the New Mutants movie takes place in present day (though we aren’t sure how that jives with the fact that McAvoy is playing Professor X).
And as for the film’s plot, there’s been much speculation (and pretty much admission from Boone) that we’re going to be treated to the New Mutants “Demon Bear” storyline. Boone told IGN, “I really remember loving the Demon Bear story, and being really into how strange and metaphysical it was and how it operated on different levels of reality. I just felt that’d be cool and interesting stuff to do in a comic book movie, and make a new way to tell a story like that.”
The Demon Bear storyline for the New Mutants team has been compared to the Phoenix Saga for the Uncanny X-Men. Despite it only being a three-issue arc, it’s hailed as the best in the series and highly influential on comics that came after it. Basically, Demon Bear is the (quite literal) demon bear who killed Mirage’s parents, haunts her still and threatens to come for her next. We’ll say that teammate Magik plays a large role in Demon Bear’s defeat in the comics, but for more on the seminal storyline, you can head here for insight into its boundary-breaking influence.
Still, Boone has said he won’t go so far as saying Demon Bear is the film’s primary antagonist, just that the film is “very much inspired by that run in the comics.”
We can’t wait for the latest installment in the ongoing X-Men franchise.