By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

Sept. 4, 2020 — The New Mutants, the final, no-kidding X-Men movie by Twentieth Century Fox, finally made it to the theaters after three years of delays. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

That trip really began back in 1982, when Marvel Comics launched its third major X-Men team. Which means, I guess, I have to tell you about the first two. They’re pretty famous, after all.

The first team was the original X-Men, the superheroes who launched the franchise in 1963: Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel  Girl and Professor X. Joining in the late ‘60s were Cyclops’ brother Havok and his girlfriend (and Magneto’s daughter) Polaris. They didn’t set the world on fire — the series went reprint in 1970 — but they got the mutant ball rolling.

Marvel revived the concept in 1975, with the “all-new, all-different” (and all-international) X-Men: Banshee (Irish), Colossus (Russian), Cyclops (token American), Nightcrawler (German), Storm (Kenyan), Sunfire (Japanese), Warbird (Native American) and Wolverine (Canadian). This group made Uncanny X-Men the best-selling title of the late 1970s and early ‘80s … which meant an expansion of the franchise was inevitable.

For this new venture, dubbed The New Mutants, Marvel went back to the original well. “We felt that the series needed a school, and The X-Men were too old for that,” writer Chris Claremont said in Les Daniels’ history of Marvel. “So we got Xavier some students and it’s evolved from there.” They even adopted the old blue-and-gold “school uniforms” for the new kids’ training sessions.

Due to a scheduling snarl the first New Mutants story launched in graphic novel form in 1982, a 47-pager by Claremont and artist Bob McLeod. That was followed by New Mutants #1 in 1983, by the same creators, starring the same group:

 

  • Cannonball: Sam Guthrie, a teen from the backwoods of Kentucky, can blast around like a … well, a cannonball. He’s invulnerable to all harm while “blasting.”
  • Karma: Xi’an Coy Mahn, a Vietnamese refugee, can seize control of the minds of others.
  • Psyche: Danielle Moonstar, a Cheyenne, could project illusions of another person’s greatest fear. Well, at first. Somebody eventually figured out this was a lame super-power, and she changed her name to Mirage and developed a number of  psionic, energy and magical powers.
  • Sunspot: Roberta da Costa, a fabulously wealthy Afro- Brazilian, can convert sunlight into super-strength. He’s called Sunspot because of the visual effect of his power, where he turns completely black with little bubbles of black energy sloughing off.
  • Wolfsbane: Rahne (pronounced “Rain”) Sinclair, an extremely devout Scottish lass, can change (much to her embarrassment) into a wolf. She also has an intermediate, werewolf form where she can still communicate.

 

New Mutants being an X-Men book, it didn’t take long for things to get weird. But it got super-weird when an artist named Bill Sienkiewicz (sin-KEV-itch) took on the art chores. An experimental and often abstract artist, Sienkiewicz combined photorealism, collage, painting and other techniques that exploded off the page. And he arrived just in time, in “New Mutants”#18, the first issue of what would be dubbed “The Demon Bear Saga.”

The New Mutants: Demon Bear contains the three stories involving the Demon Bear, including the first one, on which The New Mutants movie is based. (Cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, copyright Marvel Comics)

Which is kinda grandiose for a story that lasted all of three issues. But they were three very good issues, that became famous as much for imagination and execution as for, well, a bunch of teenage mutant superheroes fighting a bear.

It should be noted that at this point the New Mutants roster had changed a bit. Karma was out, and these guys were in:

 

  • Magma (Amara Juliana Olivians Aquilla) is a mutant who can project heat and lava, from a lost Roman colony in the Amazon (someone was an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, evidently).
  • Magik (Illyana Rasputin) is the sister of Colossus, and can teleport via the land of Limbo, from which she also draws magical powers and a fearsome “Soulsword.”

 

Not that any of that mattered to The Bear, you see, because it isn’t physical. It had been haunting Moonstar’s dreams, before manifesting as a spirit form that mauled her physically and psychically. The other New Mutants took Moonstar to a hospital, where all of them were trapped by The Bear. The story became more claustrophobic, the Bear bigger, the stakes higher … wait, is this beginning to sound familiar?

Yep, the New Mutants movie takes place in a haunted hospital. Yep, the Demon Bear Saga is the basis for the movie. And yep, the characters are very familiar. “New Mutants,” the movie, features:

  • Cannonball: Charlie Heaton, who is Jonathan Byers on Stranger Things, portrays Sam Guthrie.
  • Magik: Anya Taylor-Joy, who starred in The Witch, is Illyana Rasputin.
  • Mirage: Blu Hunt, whose name already sounds like a cool code name, plays Danielle Moonstar.
  • Sunspot: Henry Zaga, a.k.a. Henrique Chagas Moniz de Aragão Gonzaga, who is actually Brazilian, is Roberto da Costa.
  • Wolfsbane: Maisie Williams, famous  as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, gives us Rahne Sinclair.

 

(If you’re wondering about Dr. Cecilia Reyes, played by Alice Braga, she’s lifted from another corner of the X-universe entirely. Apparently this was done just for name recognition, since the on-screen character is completely different from the print version.)

These teenage characters have been the core of most iterations of the New Mutants, and often of a team named X-Force as well. If you’re a comics fan, you’re  thoroughly familiar with each of them, their back story and story beats.

Which is the only easy thing about New Mutants. Just getting it to the screen was a chore.

The film was greenlit around 2014, with director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) attached. By 2017 it was finished, with an announced release date of April 13, 2018.

Oh, if only.

In early 2018, the movie was pushed to Feb. 22, 2019. According to CinemaBlend, this was for two reasons: One, to have extensive reshoots to emphasize horror elements (IT had done well) and to give it some breathing room from Deadpool 2, scheduled for summer 2018.

Which happened again, when X-Men: Dark Phoenix got too close. New Mutants got bumped to Aug. 2, 2019.

The New Mutants stars (from left) Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy. (© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

But now discussions were serious about Disney buying Fox, which threw in another monkey wrench. The reshoots weren’t finished, and word was Disney wasn’t impressed. So an all-new, all-different date was set: April 3, 2020.

Which was right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic! Who could have known? New Mutants got bumped again, to Aug. 28, and by this time almost no one took the date seriously. The director joked that he expected a meteor to hit in August and delay the movie again.

But it happened. New Mutants premiered at whatever theaters were open on Aug. 28 (2,412 of them, according to The Hollywood Reporter) for a $7 million opening weekend. Which impresses nobody. And the reviews are … well, “mixed” is probably the right word.

What is a sad finish to the New Mutants saga. It had a great premise (a teen-horror superhero movie)! A great inspiration (the legendary “Demon Bear Saga”)! A hot, young, star-studded cast (Williams, Heaton,Taylor-Joy)! A groundbreaking romance (no, I won’t spoil it)!

And a probable future. According to comicbook.com, Boone had plans for including Colossus (he is Illyana’s brother, after all) and a certain introductory scene made famous in the first appearance of the “all-new, all-different” X-Men.

And according to ScreenRant, Boone had planned a New Mutants trilogy. The second would take place in Brazil during an alien invasion, and include X-Men staples like a character named Warlock and the Hellfire Club. (And if they’re in Brazil, why not introduce Magma?) For the third movie, Boone planned to adapt a famous X-Men story titled “Inferno,” in which demons invade the Earth and Illyana is transformed into a demon form called Darkchylde.

But alas. Unless New Mutants shows some unexpected legs, we’ll have to wait for these characters to be introduced in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, get developed and spin off into their own films. By then, the stars of “New Mutants” will probably have teenagers of their own.

Find Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), on his website (captaincomics.ning.com), on Facebook (Andrew Alan Smith) or on Twitter (@CaptainComics).  

Views: 311

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

...Disney decided to, instead of issuing it theatrically in 2021 as they'd planned, have their filmed stage performance movie of HAMILTON go direct to Disney+ - just as a regular release, not extra-expensive like Milan - but you might think they'd point to Broadway prices and put it out that way also:-)!

You probably missed it, but on another thread I mentioned that my wife, Gayle, has had a series of illnesses since the fall of 2017. Just before the Covid-19 lockdowns started we were beginning to get out in the world (though not yet in theaters, live or movie). We have a lot of practice being stuck at home.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Well, you admit that you don't go to movies in theaters at all the last couple of years - Maybe you're not typical of people who do go to theaters. You live in/around LA, with many theaters, I presume you have decent transportation
...My best to her. I guess that did escape me.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Disney decided to, instead of issuing it theatrically in 2021 as they'd planned, have their filmed stage performance movie of HAMILTON go direct to Disney+ - just as a regular release, not extra-expensive like Milan - but you might think they'd point to Broadway prices and put it out that way also:-)!

I think the logic there was that Hamilton would drive people to sign up for Disney+, because there was HUGE demand to see it and you just can't get it anywhere else. 

Mulan is a different case. Hamilton didn't cost millions upon millions to make, since it isn't a movie movie; it's a filmed version of the stage play. Mulan cost $200 million, plus another $100 million in marketing. Movies like that, the studios want in theaters and around the world too, 'cause that's how you get results like Avengers: Endgame, which pulled in $2.8 BILLION (with a "B").* 

At $300 million in production and marketing costs, I'm sure Disney didn't want to keep Mulan on the shelf indefinitely. But at $300 million in production and marketing costs, I'm also sure Disney felt they had to recover some of those costs. Hence, the $30 premium.

The $30 premium was also a test: Will people pay it? And for which movies? And for which kinds of movies?

I expect the studios will try more video-on-demand movies, but not too many; they don't want to destroy their relationships with theaters. But things depend on a) when theaters are allowed to reopen, b) when they are allowed to reopen at full capacity, and c) when enough people are willing to go to theaters so they will be at full capacity. That last point is the iffiest of all.



* That's why, when the next James Bond movie was supposed to open Easter weekend, when COVID-19 hit they immediately pushed it all the way to Thanksgiving weekend, hoping this would all blow over by then. As it looks now, Thanksgiving might still be too early.

We'd really like to see Hamilton, but the show will be the same when it finally comes out on DVD (I'm sure it won't be streaming anywhere but Disney+ for years to come). We're used to waiting for movies to either stream on a service we already have or come out on DVD. Meanwhile, there are still a ton of movies and TV shows we have yet to watch. I can't see paying extra for something that I can get (eventually) with my existing subscriptions. 

I'm sure there are a lot of customers out there who either don't have streaming (which requires a really good broadband signal), who don't want to pay for premium VOD or who just want to see the movies on a big screen when things get closer to normal (which I realize may take awhile). Reissuing these movies will bring in plenty of money.

...What streaming service do you have?

The first one I had was Netflix (along with their mailed DVD service). When my wife had extended hospital stays I also subscribed to Hulu and CBS All Access so that we could both catch up with network TV shows when she returned home. I've never regretted it.

Richard Willis said:

We'd really like to see Hamilton, but the show will be the same when it finally comes out on DVD (I'm sure it won't be streaming anywhere but Disney+ for years to come). We're used to waiting for movies to either stream on a service we already have or come out on DVD. Meanwhile, there are still a ton of movies and TV shows we have yet to watch. I can't see paying extra for something that I can get (eventually) with my existing subscriptions. 

I'm sure there are a lot of customers out there who either don't have streaming (which requires a really good broadband signal), who don't want to pay for premium VOD or who just want to see the movies on a big screen when things get closer to normal (which I realize may take awhile). Reissuing these movies will bring in plenty of money.

I'm in that camp. I'm old enough to remember when the promise of cable TV was that you paid for it and got everything, without commercials. Now you pay for cable TV, pay extra if you don't want commercials, pay extra for specific channels, pay extra if you want those channels without commercials, pay for streaming, and pay for specific shows or movies!

However, one other thing that's been upended: You can't count on everything eventually coming out on DVD. We loved The Good Wife and sequel/spinoff series The Good Fight, but right now, you can only get The Good Fight by subscribing to CBS All-Access (which is about to be rebranded Paramount+). Likewise for the other shows on CBS All-Access, like the Star Trek spinoffs Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks. They have no plans to release those on DVD.

...Star Trek: Discovery is now going to get at least a few weeks of re-runs on broadcast CBS die to the pipeline of new Eye escapes bring put aside by the pandemic.

...New Mutants has now spent three or four weekends at #2 BO, I believe - behind the much-publicized " Will citizens actually return to their local (now I've forgotten the slightly passed island term for " local movie theater " - there used to be a PBS vintage movies series using the term) - local movie theaters.

  That's likely a longer time at that high a chart position than it would have had under " normal " conditions, don't you think? Of course, the total revenues made are likely far, AR, lower.

..." Mulan " will become available for digital purchase on various streaming services for the same $29.99 but now available to keep indefinitely, with no strings attached of needing to continue your monthly Disney+ subscription to keep it, as has been the case. That was short! It will become available as a standard Disney+ stream in early December.

The same theater I saw New Mutants at is still showing both it and Tenet, Tenet possibly in two theaters Mutants only in one? - It listed 12 movies showing now though, they might have more than one movie per room over the course of a day in one room - They're showing " modern classics/faves " some, they had Crazy Rich Asians and Magic Mike and Bridesmaids and Despicable Me - Full price? - Per that last, they had been showing a Minions movie before. They had The Empire Strikes Back for one night? but it was showing for a full week elsewhere?

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2020   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service