By Nick Romano
March 11, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT

The New Mutants

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By pitching themselves as the guys to make a movie about the New Mutants X-Men team of Marvel Comics, director Josh Boone and his co-writer Knate Lee created their own PDF comic books for Fox studios, one for each film in a planned trilogy of superhero horror movies. "Each one is its own unique kind of horror movie," Boone once said on the set of their initial effort, The New Mutants, in 2017. "The first one is this supernatural horror movie. I won’t say what the other two are. They’re horror movies but different horror movies each time."

With The New Mutants finally coming to theaters after two years of delays, the sequel seems less and less likely in the wake of Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox (now rebranded as 20th Century Studios). So, Boone is more willing to open up about what could have been.

The film, set for release this April 3, will introduce Maisie Williams as Rahne (Wolfsbane), Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana (Magik), Charlie Heaton as Sam (Cannonball), Henry Zaga as Roberto (Sunspot), and Blu Hunt as Dani (Mirage). The supernatural horror, which Boone likens to 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, comes out of individual "nightmare sequences." Each of the five teen mutants, who are being held at a secret facility against their will, face the horrors of their past through personalized, terrifying visions. It's an arc inspired by the "Demon Bear" comics from writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz in the 1980s.

Despite multiple past reports about reshoots, Boone confirms The New Mutants is the film he set out to make, minus one tiny thing he was supposed to shoot but never did.

"It was intentional that we didn’t shoot it," he says. "We had always planned to have a tag at the end of the movie that introduced the villain for the next movie. We even had an actor cast, but because of the merger and because Marvel owns X-Men now and is going to do their own thing, there was no reason to go shoot it."

Disney's acquisition of Fox properties became finalized in 2019. The process not only delayed multiple films, including The New Mutants (originally set for an April 2018 release), it also seems to have put the kibosh on potential sequels. Disney now maintains ownership of the X-Men movie franchise, but the company is focused on expanding its Marvel Cinematic Universe, which includes Disney+ series like Loki and WandaVision and films like Black Widow and The Eternals. It's more likely that characters from the formerly Fox-owned superhero movies will appear in that universe rather than continuing something like The New Mutants.

Boone says the actor who would've appeared in his post-credits scene was Pain and Glory's Antonio Banderas. He was once in talks to play Emmanuel da Costa, father of Zaga's Roberto. The filmmaker specifically mentions Emmanuel's connection to the Hellfire Club in the comics, which see Roberto traveling to Brazil with the New Mutants to reunite with his estranged archaeologist mother, whom Emmanuel is trying to kill over his own business interests. "We always intended to do New Mutants: Brazil as the second movie," Boone says.

Another intent was to bring in other characters from the comics, specifically the techno-organic alien Warlock and Karma, who has the ability to mentally possess other beings. "Karma was always going to be the villain in the second movie that would be absorbed into the group by the end," Boone elaborates. "We had always wanted to bring Karma and Warlock into the second one when we couldn’t do it in the first one. For us, we wanted that initial core team [for the first movie]. We just couldn’t swap out Illyana. We felt like there was no reason to do [the movie] if we couldn’t bring that character to life in the first one. Swapping out for someone like Magma" — a different comic book figure with the ability to transform her body into a "magma" state — "I don’t feel fits very well in the kind of movie we were gonna make. I’ve got Bobby already. We tried to make a team that made sense."

Just like The New Mutants, its sequels would have also been inspired by Claremont and Seinkowitz's comic book run, specifically "in terms of the tone and the look and kids not necessarily in costumes," Boone mentions.

"In our heart of hearts, we hope [The New Mutants] makes a bunch of money so that we can go make the second one," he adds, but for now it's a wait-and-see situation. "We’re all just bummed at everything that happened. Just the merger and everything else. It had nothing to do with us personally and had an impact on every single movie at Fox at the time."

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The New Mutants

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