Before we go any further, I want to say that there is no Captain America in this article, no Spider-Man and only the slightest hint of Wolverine.
And for me, a Marvel comic book geek, that’s perfect.
Reading the X-Men comics I’ve always been more interested in the background characters: the curious stood behind the big names, the new hires – those with B-list potential.
So when a movie about The New Mutants, the X-Men’s first junior team, was shot in 2017, I was pretty excited.
Three years later and it’s only now on screens after a, say, tough trip.
And while it was a long wait for me, it was even longer for Josh Boone, the man who made the movie.
“I received a reminder on my phone recently from the set,” the director and screenwriter told Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“It was a picture saying ‘three years ago’ and I was like ‘fuck you! “”
The most important origin story
Here is the story. The New Mutants was made in 2017 by Fox Studios (now 20th Century Studios), which owned the rights to Marvel’s X-Men franchise. Every X-Men movie you’ve seen has been made by this studio.
But soon after The New Mutants was created, Disney – then owned by Marvel – bought Fox Studios, meaning the X-Men movies were once again owned by Marvel. And Marvel has plans for a whole new franchise.
Revivals of Josh’s film were planned, which is to be expected for most films – while there are suggestions, a lot has been asked of Josh, his cast, and his crew to prepare for the film’s release.
The merger meant that the takeovers never took place. What’s in theaters now is what was filmed during the original shoot three years ago.
“We were just in an awkward situation that most people don’t have to deal with,” Josh says.
“I feel like we did. But oh my god there were a lot of bumps and bruises.
“You hang on to it as it gets smaller and smaller and then you’re like ‘I can’t believe we did this.’ “
Josh wrote the film with his childhood friend Knate Lee. Both were obsessed with comics as children, including X-Men and New Mutants.
They pitched the film as the first part of a superhero / horror trilogy, with its cast of teenage characters also allowing for young adult elements, all set in the world of the X-Men.
The early drafts even included characters from previous X-Men movies.
“Once you start figuring out what the movie is, the budget is tough, you start to realize that you’re going to have to cut your dream in half,” Josh says.
“Not bad, just in a ‘Hollywood reality’ that any director who’s going to make a movie has to ultimately do.
“So even if someone made a $ 200 million movie, I promise they needed $ 400 million. “
“I will choose my next project wisely”
Josh says his experience creating The New Mutants was very different from creating The Fault In Our Stars, which won multiple awards in 2014, for which he is probably best known.
When the first viewers loved this movie, Josh said the studio president told him “you’ll never see me again” and approved the movie for release.
“It was blessed circumstances and it was like, the opposite. “
After successfully completing the merger, The New Mutants was again delayed in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
Coincidentally, Josh’s next project is a TV adaptation of Stephen King’s book The Stand – about a strain of flu that is wiping out most of the world’s population.
“That we had just done this and a pandemic had happened was already so strange,” he says.
“And now we’re releasing a movie about the children in quarantine?” And I’m just like – I don’t know – I’ll choose the next project with more wisdom. “
Who are the new mutants?
Casual Marvel fans probably won’t be too familiar with characters like Cannonball, Magik, Wolfsbane, Moonstar, or Sunspot – who are actually never mentioned by their X-Men codenames in the movie. But the fact that there aren’t any mainstream favorites in The New Mutants shouldn’t put off superhero movie fans.
After all, Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy has proven that you can start a billion dollar franchise with a tree and a talking rodent among your main characters.
Here we also have foreigners. The New Mutants is about a group of super powerful young teens, locked in a facility for their own protection, battling nightmarish monsters and a giant creature called Demon Bear.
Parmi le casting se trouvent Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Sam Heaton (Stranger Things) et Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Peaky Blinders).
It also features the first LGBTQ + storyline in a big Hollywood superhero movie, with Maisie’s Rahne – who can turn into a wolf – and Blu Hunt’s Dani, who creates illusions, providing a love story.
Josh says it’s “weird” not to have more of this in mainstream movies, but accuses Hollywood of having to sell their work to “homophobic territories” around the world.
“It’s worth the extra effort and trying to get these things across,” he says.
“It seemed like a good way to do it, especially since there are so many children in their teens struggling with their sexuality or in abusive homes.
“Even the most popular kid in school probably still feels a bit of a stranger and doesn’t like their place, because I just think it’s the experience of being a teenager. “
“These elements were personal”
This is the Maisie character that Josh seems to relate to the most. It reflects part of his education in the American Bible Belt in the 1980s.
“The character of Rahne came from an oppressed religious upbringing and I was fine from an oppressed religious upbringing. ”
He says his parents were involved in an evangelical Christian movement during his childhood that “swept” parts of America at the time.
“Stephen King’s books were burned in the fireplace, Christian tapes were copied with Guns & Roses so they wouldn’t know what they were stored on,” he adds.
“So he was trying to find ways to fit in some of those things that were personal. “
Now in theaters, several years later than expected, the reviews of The New Mutants haven’t been overly kind.
One of the comic’s co-creators criticized the film for laundering some of its characters and even misspelling its name in the credits.
But despite all the obstacles in the way – which now make Josh’s trilogy plans unlikely – he’s hopeful that the characters he’s brought to the screen may still find a home in the future.
“I’m very curious to see what Marvel is going to do with the X-Men franchise,” he says.
“If they allowed us to do more that would be great. If they continue the characters in one way or another, that would be great. I think we have one of the best casts under the sun.
“Everything went well because I think we all really like the movie. “
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