Fox’s X-Men film franchise has received a much-needed revitalization over the last year, thanks to fresh takes on Marvel’s mutants ranging from James Mangold’s Western-styled Logan to Noah Hawley’s mind-bending series Legion. The latest installment in this trend is the upcoming film The New Mutants, directed by Josh Boone and based on the ’80s X-Men spin-off comic of the same name. The film has already cast Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams to star as the mutants Magik and Wolfsbane — but those names are surely less familiar to the average moviegoer than Wolverine and Magneto. So…who are the New Mutants? EW has your quick introduction right here.
X-Men has always been a saga about youth. That made the stories resonant with young readers; heroes-in-training learning how to harness their powers and live in a world that hates and fears them offered up many comparisons to the real-life struggles with racism, sexism, and homophobia. But by the time the ’80s rolled around, the first generation of X-Men (which includes Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast, and Iceman) were getting on in years. Some were married and all had adult problems to deal with.
So longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont created a new team of young mutant students. Members included: Karma, who could control other people’s bodies; Cannonball, who could powerfully rocket through the air like his namesake; Mirage, who could create empathic illusions; Sunspot, who gained superstrength from sunlight; and Wolfsbane, who could transform into a werewolf-like monster. Later recruits included Colossus’ mystic-powered sister Magik, the language expert Cypher, and the “techno-organic” alien Warlock. Over the course of more than 80 issues, the team faced everything from a monstrous Demon Bear to the otherworldly residents of Limbo. Like the “All-New, All-Different X-Men” team that introduced characters like Wolverine and Storm, the New Mutants team was consciously diverse and inclusive. Its members hailed from all over the world: Sunspot from Brazil, Karma from Vietnam, Magik from Russia.
In 1990, Rob Liefeld took over The New Mutants and transformed it into a superpowered, super-violent team book that fit the “big muscles and big guns” aesthetic of ’90s superhero comics. It was here that both Cable and Deadpool made their debuts. Judging by the casting so far, the film will focus on the earlier iteration, but it’s probably not too early to begin speculating about a possible Ryan Reynolds cameo in the film. Who knows, with Hugh Jackman’s exit from the franchise, maybe Reynolds will inherit his mantle of ubiquitous movie X-Man.
We know that Magik and Wolfsbane will be included, but who else? According to The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the casting news, the film roster will also include Sunspot, Cannonball, Warlock, and Mirage. Per THR, “Fox is making serious efforts to find ethnically appropriate actors, conducting wide searches for a Native American to play Moonstar and a South American for Sunspot.” We can only hope the Demon Bear will show up too.