These are great days to be an #XMen fan. In 1982, Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod created the next generation of the X-Men: the teenage New Mutants. Decades later, these young heroes are finally coming to the big screen in Josh Boone's New Mutants, due for release April 13th, 2018. But who are the New Mutants? What comic book tales could be adapted for these characters?
With the casting of Maisie Williams as Wolfsbane, it's time to focus in on this intriguing character. Let me run you through some of what you need to know...
Who Is Wolfsbane?
One of the original New Mutants, Wolfsbane (a.k.a. Rahne Sinclair) is a dearly loved character. She was introduced as a shy, emotionally repressed teenager who'd been brought up in Scotland. She'd been raised as a religious fundamentalist, and a frequently revisited plot was the conflict between her awakening teenage desires and the strong moral upbringing she'd had. Little by little, though, that fundamentalist backstory became increasingly sinister; we learned that Rahne had been the daughter of one Reverend Craig, and that he'd abused her horribly. When Rahne's powers first manifested, the Reverend led a mob who attempted to burn her at the stake. She was rescued, and adopted by Professor Xavier's close friend, Moira MacTaggert.
It isn't much of a stretch to understand why Reverend Craig interpreted Rahne's powers as a form of witchcraft. She has the ability to turn into a wolf, and gradually learned how to pause at in-between stages, giving her the power to shift into werewolf forms, with enhanced strength and speed, razor talons, and animal instincts!
Wolfsbane's Love Life Has Been Crazy!
Although Wolfsbane was introduced as an emotionally-repressed teenager, she's had a pretty active love-life over the years — although sadly, her romances have frequently ended in tragedy. Take young Doug Ramsey, who was killed before Rahne's eyes. Or Elixir, a young mutant who became one of Rahne's own students while she briefly taught at Xavier's School. That particularly incident led to Wolfsbane getting fired.
Perhaps her most important love interest is the shapeshifting Asgardian wolf-prince Hrimhari. Chris Claremont used this to shine a light on the conflict between Wolfsbane's repressed character and her animal nature.
Decades later, the relationship with Hrimhari was revisited at a time when Wolfsbane's self-control was slipping, and the two became lovers. Unfortunately, Rahne was left pregnant, and the hybrid fetus threatened her life. Hrimhari made a deal with the Asgardian goddess of death, Hela, in order to save his lover and child.
The Tragic Tale Of Wolfsbane's Son
Wolfsbane's pregnancy was accelerated due to her child's hybrid nature, and after she gave birth (through her mouth rather than a normal birth) Rahne was horrified at the mutated, half-human child. She denounced her son, Tier, and sent him to be looked after by Jack Russell, a superhero known as Werewolf-by-Night.
Over the next few months, Rahne wrestled with guilt over abandoning her son. She saw a dark reflection of her own relationship with her father — only this time, she was the one who was filled with hatred towards a child. Finally, after working through her inner demons with a priest, Rahne left X-Factor to look after her son.
Unfortunately for Wolfsbane, that ended in tragedy; Tier was a powerful mystical being, and was sought after by the extradimensional entities known as the Hell Lords. He was the prize in the so-called "Hell on Earth War," with powerful beings such as Mephisto and Hela vying to capture him. When the dust settled, Tier was dead.
The Death Of Reverend Craig
Surrendering to her animal instincts for a time, Wolfsbane got drawn into Cyclops's plans to put together a more militant form of X-Force. This soon led Wolfsbane into conflict with her own father, Reverend Craig. Horrifically, Craig attempted to brainwash her into committing murder — but it backfired, and the animalistic Wolfsbane attacked him instead. Her teammates found her surrounded by shredded clothes and blood; it appeared she had literally devoured her father. Thankfully, Wolfsbane had no memory of these actions, which would have destroyed her humanity completely.
As you can see, Wolfsbane's life has been one wild ride! I strongly suspect there are a lot of key arcs that will never be adapted into film; after all, characters like Hrimhari and Mephisto are unlikely to be available to Fox. That said, Wolfsbane's core character and her main arc can easily be preserved; a young, religious girl who's gone through a harsh, abusive upbringing, and must learn to recover from Reverend Craig's influence.
With New Mutants promising to be a young-adult supernatural thriller, Wolfsbane's religious sensibilities are sure to be tested to the max. How will Maisie Williams's Wolfsbane deal with the Demon Bear?