The New Mutants comic spun off from the Uncanny X-Men from 1982. While the X-Men were fighting to save the world, the New Mutants trained with Professor Xavier (and later on Magneto and eventually Cable). They had to balance learning to use their powers with their school work. When the X-Men faked their deaths and moved to Australia, the New Mutants stepped into their place as the lead team. After seventeen years, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film franchise is making a New Mutants spinoff of its own.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Josh Boone said that The New Mutants is going to be “a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe.” It may not sound intuitive to anyone who’s watched the last ten X-Men movies, but horror is the right genre for a New Mutants movie. Read on for seven reasons to be excited about the news!
1.) Mixing Horror into the DNA of X-Men Comics Saved the Series
Uncanny X-Men #1 was released in 1963 with the team responsible for many of Marvel’s classic characters: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. They struggled to get traction with a team of teenage mutants and passed their creative duties to others. Marvel elected to use reprints instead of new material in 1970, a change that spanned issues 67-93.
Chris Claremont came on after Giant Sized X-Men #1 in 1973 and revitalized the series, in large part by incorporating horror. In his second arc, a one-shot story told in issue #96, Cyclops accidentally shoots the top off an ancient Cairn and released a demon army into the world and the X-Men need to lock them back up. The issue is named after the classic horror movie, Night of the Demon.
Claremont shows his passion for horror more in some of his best X-Men arcs. In the Proteus Saga the X-Men had to hunt down and kill their long-time friend Moira MacTaggert’s son Proteus. As Proteus makes his way across Ireland, he jumps from body to body, reducing his living hosts to shriveled husks.
Claremont also adapted the xenomorphs from Alien into X-Men’s otherworldly sworn enemy the Brood. In addition to the visual similarities, the Brood reproduce by planting eggs inside other species. To be fair, rather than burst out of the host’s chest, the Brood implants change the host into a Brood.
Arguably Claremont’s best arc, the Dark Phoenix Saga could be considered horror as well. Jean Grey’s struggle to maintain control while the cosmic phoenix force urges her to destroy is a possession story dressed up in superhero tights.
2.) The Concept of Mutation is Terrifying
In the X-Men comics universe, mutation sets in at puberty, and for many mutants it’s awful. According to Digital Spy, Boone’s social media is implying that his New Mutants team will feature Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball, Sunspot, and Mirage, all of whose power discoveries could be played for horror. Magik’s mutant power is teleportation.
Imagine a teenager on-screen waking up in a different country than where she went to sleep and not speaking the language. She blinks and it happens again. This time she’s in trouble and she’s trying her hardest to get herself out of there but she doesn’t know how to use her power yet so she can’t.
Cannonball has the power to fly and invulnerability while he’s in the air. A middle school boy with no control over that level of power could fly through a skyscraper, or splatter through a human.
While there’s no guarantee that the movie is going to start with one or all of the New Mutants discovering their mutations, there’s no denying that power without control is a scary concept and fertile grounds for a horror movie.
3.) Wolfsbane is an Actual Werewolf
Also on the subject of transformations, Wolfsbane a.k.a. Rahne Sinclair is an actual werewolf. Her mutant power is to transform into a lupine form. It gives her increased strength, agility, claws, teeth, and bloodlust. The main difference between Wolfsbane and a traditional werewolf is that she doesn’t need a full moon to transform and has no aversion to silver. That means anyone seeing The New Mutants can look forward to at least one werewolf transformation.
4.) Mirage is a Walking Horror Movie
Mirage is a great character for a horror movie because her mutant power allows her to telepathically project the desires or fears of anyone she chooses. Her power is good for an unlimited number of jump scares. Any monsters or horrific dream sequences as Boone can dream up can fit the story, because Mirage can manifest those things.
5.) Magik’s Backstory is Terrifying
In Uncanny X-Men #160, Magik a.k.a. Illyana Rasputin starts the issue as a six-year-old girl and ends as a thirteen-year-old while for the rest of the X-Men, only a few hours pass. The seven years pass for Magik as the X-Men are trying to pull her through a portal they’ve already gone through, while she’s being held by an evil sorcerer named Belasco in the limbo dimension. Reading the comics, it feels like a pretty obvious attempt to get the character old enough to fight alongside the X-Men quickly, but the torture she endured at the hands of Belasco over those seven years would make a good horror movie in itself.
Of course, it doesn’t seem likely that Boone is going to have much time to focus on Illyana’s seven years with Belasco unless he’s the main villain of the film, but Illyana’s experiences in the horrific Limbo are an essential part of her character.
6.) Anya Taylor-Joy Chooses Good Horror Movies
It makes sense that Anya Taylor-Joy is playing the woman who was tortured in Limbo. Without spoiling anything, it suffices to say that Taylor-Joy had a turn with different types of torture in captivity as one of the stars in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split.
She also showed her horror acting chops in 2016’s The Witch. She may not be behind the camera, but she’s shown that she knows how to pick good horror projects. Her signing onto The New Mutants horror movie is a good omen it’ll be scary.
7.) The New Mutants Have Scary Villains
Belasco isn’t the only scary villain the New Mutants have clashed with. There’s Sy’m, Belasco’s demon servant who goes on to take over Limbo himself leading to the Inferno crossover with the X-Men.
There’s also Selene Gallio (note the slight difference between her last name and the Italian film predecessor to slasher movies, the Giallo) a psychic vampire who feeds to stay eternally young.
Mirage’s main enemy is the Demon Bear. Not much was revealed about the origin of the bear, but it feeds off human negativity and killed Mirage’s parents. It haunted Mirage through her nightmares, promising to kill her too.
The New Mutants also fought against the Shadow King, who was recently featured on Fox’s excellent Legion.
While it’s impossible to say which of these villains, if any, will be haunting The New Mutants movie, horror is the right genre for these teen heroes. Hopefully Boone will treat us to some more details when production starts this July.