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New Mutants - What We Know So Far

The New Mutants has gone down a bumpy road. Fans weren't sure what to make of the X-Men superhero/horror hybrid when the first trailer dropped in October 2017. To comics fans, it didn't look like the stories they remembered. The unfortunate flop Dark Phoenix brought a lot of doubt into fans' minds, and rumors about what Disney's acquisition of Fox would mean for the fledgling spin-off franchise began swirling. Many questioned whether the movie would ever see the light of day.

The film's characters are based on the X-Men's junior team, first introduced in 1982's original graphic novel The New Mutants. The team later enjoyed its own ongoing series, which was revived in late 2019, and most of the characters have remained mainstays in the Marvel Comics universe ever since — as members of other mutant teams and in some cases, even as Avengers. 

With The New Mutants approaching — and with its production woes proving to be more public than maybe the filmmakers and studio would like — we thought it would be good to separate what we know from rumor. Here's what we can tell you about the New Mutants release date, the cast, the plot, and a few others things we're guessing you're curious about.

When will The New Mutants be released?

Considering the uncertainty that's surrounded the production of The New Mutants, we're assuming it's a bit of unintentional irony that the movie ended up slated for release two days after April Fool's Day — Friday, April 3, 2020 — only to have that date scuttled by the coronavirus, as the movie became just one of many delayed by the pandemic.

It's been a long road already. The first New Mutants trailer emerged in October 2017, announcing a release date of April 13, 2018, which would have put it on theater screens two weeks before Avengers: Infinity War. Yet, the latter film and its sequel — 2019's Avengers: Endgame — would prove to be insanely successful pop culture landmarks without a hint of New Mutants anywhere in sight. 

The New Mutants' first delay pushed it back to February 2019, but in March 2018 — a month before its original release date — it was announced the film had been pushed back again to August 2019. Finally, in May 2019, Disney announced The New Mutants would bring the X-Men's junior team to the big screen on April 3, 2020... and that they really really really meant it this time. And they probably did, but no amount of good intentions could save the movie from a global health crisis. A new date has yet to be announced.

Why was New Mutants delayed for so long?

The New Mutants was originally slated for April 2018. That's a two-year delay in a market that has been more than kind to superhero movies, so no one can blame you for wondering exactly why it's taken so long to get Marvel's younger mutants to the big screen. 

In January 2018, THR reported that Fox had moved The New Mutants to February 2019 in order to give Deadpool 2 — whose release was moved up to May 2018 — some elbow room. After Dark Phoenix reshoots delayed that film's release to February 2019, New Mutants was once again bumped back to make room for the final chapter of the flagship X-Men film franchise, this time to August 2019. 

Throughout most of the film's delaysthe subject of reshoots has sprung up. In March 2018, director Josh Boone was said to be reshooting up to half the movie, possibly even adding new characters. Yet by March 2019, THR was reporting that reshoots hadn't happened and weren't planned. A couple of months later, producer Simon Kinberg claimed reshoots were going to happen, but that the schedules of all the actors created a difficult juggling act. 

In March of 2020, Boone confirmed that no reshoots ever actually took place after all. The director cited the Disney/Fox merger — specifically the way it held up release as the young cast aged noticeably — as at least part of the reason. "If there hadn't been a merger, I'm sure we would've done reshoots the same way every movie does pickups," he explained. "We didn't even do that because by the time the merger was done and everything was settled, everybody's older."

Who is in the cast of The New Mutants?

Perhaps the best known members of The New Mutants' principal cast are Maisie Williams, who played Arya Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones, and Charlie Heaton, best known as social outcast Jonathan Beyers on Netflix's Stranger Things. Williams will play Rahne Sinclair, a.k.a. Wolfsbane — a mutant with abilities that mimic the powers of werewolves. Heaton is Sam Guthrie, better known as Cannonball. Guthrie is often portrayed as one of the team's leaders, and in the comics has the ability to blast himself into the air at unbelievable speeds, remaining completely invulnerable while in flight.

As for the rest of the team, there's Ilyana Rasputin (a.k.a. Magik), played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Magik has often been one of the edgier mutant heroes in the comics, sometimes going into the same dark anti-human territory, where we find extremists like Magneto. Henry Zaga plays Robert da Costa (a.k.a. Sunspot), though this isn't the character's first big screen appearance. Adan Canto has a small role as Sunspot in 2014's X-Men: Days of Future PastRounding out the lead cast is Blu Hunt, who plays the illusion-conjuring Dani Moonstar (a.k.a. Mirage).

Joining the New Mutants is Dr. Cecelia Reyes, played by Alice Braga. If the film follows the comics closely enough, Dr. Reyes may prove to be a mutant just like her patients. In the comics, Dr. Reyes generates a biological force field which she can use to defend herself or to form shapes which she can use as weapons. 

Who was added to The New Mutants?

Along with the extensive reshoots originally planned, some reports indicated that The New Mutants would add a new character during its time in postproduction hell. ScreenRant speculated the newb might be Warlock. In the comics, Warlock is a techno-organic alien who can shapeshift into just about anything, including once into the famous starship Enterprise. Director Josh Boone reportedly wanted Warlock in the film, and said he planned to introduce the hero in New Mutants 2

Later in March 2018, The Tracking Board reported something very different. According to the site, Jon Hamm was set to appear in a New Mutants post-credits tease as the villain Mister Sinister. This would have connected back to previous references to the villain in movies like Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Apocalypse. This idea was eventually scrapped — instead of Hamm, Antonio Banderas was added to the cast in the role of a villain whose identity remains a mystery. 

If The Tracking Board's report is accurate, then it leaves the question of why Mister Sinister was cut from the film. There's been no firm word, though some have speculated that Disney's acquisition of Fox is mainly to blame, and that Marvel Studios wanted all references to early X-Men films cut from The New Mutants to leave the possibility open of adding New Mutants to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, we should mention that by March 2018, when the Hamm/Sinister report surfaced, Disney's acquisition of Fox hadn't been finalized. 

What is the plot of The New Mutants?

We don't know a lot of plot specifics for The New Mutants, though we do know some interesting details. In 2017, Entertainment Weekly said a source close to the production described it this way: "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."

That seems to jive with what we've seen in The New Mutants trailers. In both the first teaser from 2017 and the most recent trailer, we see the mutants in a hospital where Dani is subjected to painful tests, and all of the heroes react to some kind of unnamed supernatural horror. In the newer trailer, we see Dani finding what appears to be a force field on the edge of the the facility's property. As Ilyana tells her, "This isn't a hospital — it's a cage."

There's also strong evidence suggesting the early New Mutants villain, the Demon Bear, will feature in the film. A storyboard animatic featuring the character leaked online in 2016. The villain is known to feed off the negative emotions of its victims, which could connect to a moment in the newest trailer when a voice says, "This place takes your greatest fear and makes you live through it until it kills you."

What can we learn from the trailers for The New Mutants?

The first teaser for The New Mutants dropped in October 2017, and if they had failed to show the Marvel logo or mention mutants, you'd hardly know the film had anything to do with Marvel superhero characters. The teaser promised something new to superhero films — a movie that abandoned world-saving battles between costumed heroes for the gloomy ambiance of a straight-up horror flick. Mostly we see shots of the different young heroes being subjected to what appear to be supernatural tortures, all to the haunting lyrics of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2." 

The more recent trailer that debuted in January 2020 isn't that much different from the original in tone. It makes more use of the classic Pink Floyd song and shows the young heroes struggling against horrors in whatever secret facility is holding them. We also get to see more shots of the characters using their mutant abilities. We see Rahne beginning to change into her wolf form, as well as a brief shot of Roberto in his Sunspot identity. There are a couple of shots of Sam's powers appearing to emerge. Finally, the trailer ends with Illyana, dropping from one of her teleportation discs and holding a bright sword, her eyes glowing with similar power. 

What are Dani's powers?

Dr. Cecelia Reyes spends a good amount of time in the most recent trailer seemingly trying to figure out the mutant powers of Dani Moonstar. It brings up the question of how Dani is identified as a mutant and brought to the facility, though we'll leave that question aside for now. 

We can't say yet what will remain similar between the comics and the film, but in the source material, Dani's main power is related to her codename — Mirage. Dani has the ability to reach into the thoughts and emotions of others and produce hologram-like images based on them. She eventually even learns to weaponize her abilities by stunning her enemies with arrows she creates using her psychic powers. She's also shown the ability to create strong empathic connections with animals, which has helped her communicate with Wolfsbane in the latter's wolf form. 

In the comics, Dani has another set of abilities that have nothing to do with her mutant powers. Because of a classic 1985 crossover that played out between New Mutants Special Edition #1 and Uncanny X-Men Annual Vol. 1 and took place mostly in Asgard, Dani gained Valkyrie abilities, including the power to foresee someone's death. While she wasn't born with these powers, they've become important parts of the character, and would have obvious potential in a horror film. We'll be curious to see if director Josh Boone has chosen to incorporate them or not. 

Is The New Mutants a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Will The New Mutants be part of the MCU? Probably not, but we're not 100% sure. 

Early in January 2020, reports indicated that The New Mutants would be considered part of the shared MCU narrative because of a description Disney's own D23 newsletter. The email newsletter touted The New Mutants as "a seriously electrifying new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe." Not long after readers took note of that specific wording, however, Disney removed the MCU mention from the newsletter and deleted the article from its website. Still, there was no indication of whether the mention of the MCU was removed because it was inaccurate or because it was something Marvel Studios didn't want unveiled. 

The following day, IGN reported that it could confirm that The New Mutants would not be part of the MCU, however the article announcing this confirmation does not mention any sources — not even an unnamed source. The only proof it presents is that the original D23 article has been removed... which on its own doesn't prove anything. 

Regardless, it would seem very strange for Marvel Studios to choose to introduce the X-universe into its narrative with a story conceived of and created by a team outside Marvel Studios. So while we can't say with 100% certainty that New Mutants isn't in the MCU, probably don't expect Wolfsbane and Cannonball to be hanging out with Groot and Rocket anytime soon. 

What sets The New Mutants apart from other superhero movies?

Watching the New Mutants trailers doesn't feel all that different from watching an advertisement for a horror movie, and that's because that's exactly what The New Mutants is meant to be. It's culling characters and ideas from Marvel superhero comics, but from start to finish, it's a fright fest. 

Director Josh Boone, a self-described Stephen King fan obsessed with both horror stories and the superhero fare of Marvel Comics, has created a story about heroes who, according to EW's unnamed source, "aren't out to save the world — they're just trying to save themselves." A month before the first trailer dropped, then-CEO and Chairman of 20th Century Fox Stacey Snider described New Mutants in an interview with Variety as "a haunted house movie with a bunch of hormonal teenagers," saying it felt more like The Shining than any contemporary superhero fare. Likewise, New Mutants star Charlie Heaton described the movie as "full-fledged horror" in April 2018. Speaking to EW, the actor portraying Sam Guthrie said The New Mutants would be "scarier than anything we've seen in [the superhero genre]."

So, yeah, judging by those quotes and the trailers, we feel pretty confident predicting New Mutants will be richer in the screams and poorer in, say, dancing baby trees or long lost princes who talk to fish.

How will The New Mutants be different from the comics?

It'll be tough to list all the ways The New Mutants strays from the source material until the film is released, but from what we know of the plot and what we've seen in the trailers, there are a few obvious (and important) differences. 

First and foremost, in the film these young mutants are imprisoned in a secret facility, while the New Mutants of the comics first come together of their own free will — recruited by Professor X. This helps to explain why the mutants in the film are without the team's signature yellow-and-black jumpsuits. While the heroes of the comic were often concerned with moving out from the shadow of the older X-Men, the mutants in the film don't seem to have any connection to the X-Men at all (beyond being mutants) and are concerned mostly with saving themselves from whatever horrors are hunting them. 

One of the more interesting questions is how the characters' powers will be portrayed. The comic book versions of two of The New Mutants' characters — Ilyana and Dani — draw more upon the mystical world for their powers than the average mutant. The most recent trailer shows Ilyana wielding her Soulsword, but it isn't clear yet if this is meant to be part of the abilities she was born with or, as it is in the comics, produced by magic. 

Where was The New Mutants filmed?

Considering the psychologically harrowing nature of The New Mutants, a fitting spot was chosen for filming. In July 2017 — under the working title Growing Pains — The New Mutants began filming in the now-abandoned Medfield State Hospital in Medfield, Massachusetts.

Originally bearing the less kind name of Medfield Insane Asylum until it was changed in 1914, the hospital has been the site of a number of film productions — all of them featuring stories putting their heroes through mental and emotional torture. The 2009 thriller The Box was filmed there, and Martin Scorsese chose it for his 2010 psychological nightmare Shutter Island

Speaking to IGN in 2017, director Josh Boone said filming at Medfield was a little unsettling for The New Mutants' crew: "Literally every single person on my crew — all my grips — all those people had weird things happen to them while they were there." While he didn't go into detail, Boone said he told the behind-the-scenes crew to get plenty of haunted anecdotes for the home release. 

Boone went on to say he didn't personally get the same heebee-jeebees. "I went and even sat in the places where some people felt something, and was like, come on," Boone told IGN. "I'm like Fox Mulder — I want to believe — but I don't."

When does The New Mutants take place?

According to director Josh Boone, The New Mutants will be set in the present day. However, the original plan was for the film to be set in the '80s. Studio interference nixed that plan, though Boone says it doesn't change a whole lot. 

In February 2020, Collider posted some Boone quotes from a 2017 interview. The director explained that the original concept of placing The New Mutants in the '80s was scrapped because of the box office failure of 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, which was also set during the era of Regan and spandex. "They basically decided after Apocalypse they didn't want anything set in the past anymore, like that was the reason [Apocalypse] was bad."

Boone said the main way the change impacted the movie is that it limited which characters from other X films could appear in The New Mutants, but otherwise, "it didn't change [The New Mutants'] story very much." That's mainly because of the movie's secret facility setting. Boone said the movie's heroes "are in such an isolated location without any wifi or phones or anything like that, it may as well be the '80s in terms of the set."

Is The New Mutants rated R?

Considering how scary the trailers look, some fans have understandably wondered if — like its fellow X-spinoffs Logan and Deadpool — The New Mutants would be rated R. Or, if not rated R, the film's fright power was neutered after the Disney buyout. In a January 2020 Instagram response to an inquiring fan, Josh Boone confirmed The New Mutants would be PG-13, and that it was never intended to be rated R.

Boone wrote on Instagram (via ScreenRant) "The movie has always been and always will be PG-13. There was never a plan for an R-rated movie." Marvel Comics veteran Bill Sienkiewicz — who, among other memorable work, was the artist of the "Demon Bear" storyline from which The New Mutants takes inspiration — chimed in on Twitter, writing, "Scary film at PG-13. The atmosphere, mystery, & tone of Josh's direction makes it work." He went on to write about how The New Mutants differs from other horror films: "The cast is stellar, not horror tropes who split from the group 1 by 1 like idiots only to get offed. They're a team united; forged by the horror."