The New Mutants is the cursed X-Men spin-off that took nearly 3 years to get released. I was almost convinced it would never be released. After 20 years of the X-Men franchise, The New Mutants was the final nail in the coffin. Fox just kept on dragging it out. Back when Fox was foolishly planning a bunch of spin-offs. Yet the only one that got made was The New Mutants. Created in 1982 by Chris Claremont & Bob McLeod, the New Mutants were one of the first secondary X-Men teams in comics. I knew very little about them, but I’ll see anything from Marvel. The New Mutants was a very specific passion project for The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone and his screenwriter friend. It was always their intention to make a more experimental horror movie themed superhero flick.
Although Fox held them back a bit, The New Mutants became just like Deadpool and Logan in how different the tone was compared to the rest of the X-Men films. The first trailer leaned heavily into horror and I was cautiously intrigued. Then the April 2018 release date was changed to February 2019 to avoid Deadpool 2. Then that was changed to August 2019 to avoid Dark Phoenix. Then Disney finally bought Fox and it was again changed to April 2020. Then the stupid virus moved it to its final resting place in August 2020. A full 2 years, 10 months, and 15 days after the October 2017 teaser trailer. The New Mutants is the first movie I’ve seen in theaters since quarantine started and it’s definitely not worth the wait…
The New Mutants fails as both a horror and superhero film. YA, romance, comedy, the movie fails all of it. Although The New Mutants is objectively worse than Dark Phoenix, I can’t say that I hated it more. The difference is personal attachment. Dark Phoenix and Fant4stic were significantly worse for me since they butchered the X-Men and Fantastic Four respectively. Two Marvel teams that I hold in high regard. I have no personal attachment to the New Mutants. So I didn’t really care how bad it ended up being. Any problem it had didn’t matter since Disney obviously wouldn’t allow the planned trilogy to happen. The New Mutants is technically a horror flick, but I didn’t flinch once. There was supposed to be major reshoots to make the movie scarier, but several complications meant that never happened. Instead we’re left with a haunted house style frightless fest that throws around creepy imagery with no sense of dread.
The New Mutants is entirely set in a church adjacent mutant hospital ran by the mysterious Dr. Cecilia Reyes. The small cast consists almost entirely of familiar young stars. When it was filmed in 2017, Maisie Williams was deep in Game of Thrones, Charlie Heaton was in the middle of Stranger Things, and Anya Taylor-Joy was fast becoming a “Scream Queen.” Blu Hunt and Henry Zaga were mostly unknowns who were cast to fit their characters ethnicities. Then Alice Braga rounded out the cast as the controlling doctor. The only thing The New Mutants has going for it is a lot of comic book accuracy. The team was always meant to be a diverse group from many different countries. While everyone’s Mutant powers are portrayed accurately. With the exception of Karma, having an X-Men team that actually used the original roster was also rare for Fox.
All the accuracy doesn’t matter much when the New Mutants don’t wear their costumes or meet Professor X. Instead The New Mutants is just about the young group of misfits dealing with trauma in the caged facility. Like the comics, Dr. Reyes is a Mutant who creates force fields. Danielle Moonstar/Mirage is a Native American who creates psychic illusions. Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane is Scottish with the werewolf-like ability to become a wolf. Illyana Rasputin/Magik is Russian with sorcery, metallic armor, Limbo teleportation, and a Soulsword. Sam Guthrie/Cannonball is from Kentucky with the ability to fly at invincible jet speed. And Roberto da Costa/Sunspot is Brazilian with fiery solar energy. The second Sunspot after Days of Future Past since Fox doesn’t care. Each member has a tragic backstory of how their Mutations manifested.
Although they’re a lot like their comic counterparts, changes are still made. Like having Dani & Rahne be more than just close friends. They become the same lesbian couple that we’ve seen a million times before. Rahne being sheltered by her strong religious upbringing and Dani being an outsider who needs a connection. Sam and Roberto have their friendly moments, while the unhinged sister of Colossus Illyana is mostly antagonistic to Dani. Illyana is the closest to being halfaway compelling, but it’s Dani who’s mostly the main character. She unknowingly projects the fears of each Mutant in a variety of non-scary ways. The Smiley Men are the biggest head scratcher. When the Mutants do bond, it’s nothing you haven’t seen in much better teen movies. With intermittent humor and an overall uncomfortable tone.
The New Mutants also squeezed out the last remaining drops of the X-Men franchise. With a namedrop for the X-Men, a reveal that Essex is behind everything (only Mister Sinister has still yet to actually appear), Logan footage of the other institutionalized Mutants, and the first onscreen appearance of purple alien dragon Lockheed. Who’s a puppet used by Illyana that becomes real in Limbo. The only remotely superhero thing is a final fight with the Demon Bear at the end. A comic accurate villain that’s lost in the tonally confused film. The New Mutants was the final death for the long-running Fox owned X-Men. Hopefully they’re in better hands with Marvel Studios moving forward.
Preceded by: Dark Phoenix