Sara Vilkomerson
May 25, 2017 AT 08:50 AM EDT

The New Mutants, the long anticipated X-Men spinoff movie, is going to be a comic book film that goes in an unusual direction. “We are making a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe,” director Josh Boone says. “There are no costumes. There are no supervillains. We’re trying to do something very, very different.”

Game of Thrones Maisie Williams has been cast in the role of Wolfsbane and Split actress Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik. Sources close to the production say that Henry Zaga, seen most recently in 13 Reasons Why (where he played Tony’s boyfriend, Brad), will soon be announced in the role of Sunspot. (Unconfirmed chatter has it that Rosario Dawson is currently in talks as well.)

The New Mutants, which was created by Chris Claremont in the early ’80s, is about a group of teenage mutants, a kind of superheroes-in-training, who must learn to control their powers. When artist Bill Sienkiewicz — whom Boone calls “one of the most amazing comic book artists ever” — came aboard for No. 18 in 1984, the series took a turn for what Boone describes as, “a darker and more surreal and impressionistic X-Men series than we’d ever seen before. It felt like Stephen King meets John Hughes.”

It’s this run of the comic that inspired what we’ll see in The New Mutants which is currently scheduled for a spring 2018 release (and shooting for a PG-13 rating). Boone is keeping mum on actual plot details, but a source close to the project explained how mutants are at their most dangerous (both to themselves and others) when their powers are new. (Like, say, their teenage years!) Says the source: “Held in a secret facility against their will, five new mutants have to battle the dangers of their powers, as well as the sins of their past. They aren’t out to save the world — they’re just trying to save themselves.”

Mike Marsland/Getty Images; David M. Benett/Getty Images

As for Boone, whose steady hand guided 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars to $307 million worldwide (on a budget of about $12 million), this project holds deep personal ties. For starters, he’s doing it with his lifelong best friend, fellow Virginia Beach native, and fellow filmmaker, Knate Lee.

“I was raised by very religious parents,” says Boone. “They were Evangelical Southern Baptists and they believed in the rapture; they believed the devil was real; they believed in demons. Knate grew up in a similar environment and our entire lives we sort of hung on to each other as tight as we could. That’s how we got through the craziness we grew up in.”

When Boone and Lee were 12 years old, they were obsessed with Stephen King and with Marvel Comics. (Boone hid a copy of The Stand under his mattress the way some teens stash pornography. He later struck up a pen-pal relationship with King and is currently attached to adapt The Stand in the future.)  Boone and Lee even started their own comic book company, which they would (with parental help) bind and sell to relatives.

It proved handy when the duo went to Fox to pitch their idea for The New Mutants. “We made a comic book with what our vision of the series would be,” says Boone. “We love that Fox wants to make all these different X-Men spinoffs as drastically different as they can.”

Boone wants to assure fellow fans that he’s one of them and that he’s taking this responsibility very, very seriously. “You can’t have a bigger nerd or fan making this. It’s so important to me. I’m not the 12-year-old who decided to write Stephen King a letter and loved Marvel Comics anymore, but I try to hold myself accountable to that kid. Because that kid is what keeps me from becoming a Hollywood whore,” he says with a laugh. “I look back and think: Would he think this would be cool? Would he proud of me? Did I fulfill the dream we had when we were kids?”

Boone lets out another chuckle. “So yeah, you can definitely say I’m excited.”

The New Mutants is scheduled to go into production in July.

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