ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. Twitter: @ExtraTremeerial | Email: [email protected]
Eleanor Tremeer

With the cavalcade of superhero movies perpetually storming through cinemas, every studio is trying to find a new take to set their new super-flick apart from the costumed crowd. The movies have always offered a different take on the superhero genre, offering an interesting interpretation on the idea of super powers, and acting as a metaphor for marginalized groups everywhere. However, so far the X-Men films have been rather low on marginalized people in their cast lists. New Mutants could change this.

The demand for an superhero is very high right now, considering Power Rangers failed to deliver on this front — after talking a big gay game (gayme?) before the movie was released. Plenty of X-Men writers have been eager to talk about the mutants' role as a stand-in for oppressed groups, and the mutant coming-out to be a metaphor for the queer experience. Finally, they started introducing LGBT mutants in the comics a decade or so ago — and one of these characters just happens to be the co-founder and leader of the New Mutants.

Enter Karma: Lesbian Mutant

Karma is many things: She's a heroic member of the X-Men, she's proud of her Vietnamese heritage, and she's a lesbian (with an unrequited crush on Kitty Pryde).

Karma is the longest running New Mutants team leader. [Credit: Marvel]
Karma is the longest running New Mutants team leader. [Credit: Marvel]

This last point on the list has never been a big part of her character, with the comics choosing not to focus on her coming out but just establishing her sexuality as a fact in the 2003 New Mutants Vol. 2. She's here, she's queer, and you better get used to it because the team she leads is coming to a cinema near you.

Or, she might be. The official lineup for the movie has not been released yet, but considering Karma's role in forming the team, many fans expected to see her in . Karma has the distinctly dark power of mind-possession, allowing her to control others as she sees fit. This mutant ability emerged in her tragic backstory, when her twin brother Tran was attacked by a Viet Cong soldier, and Karma used her powers to save him. Tran also developed these powers, but his use of them erred more towards cruelty than heroism.

Though she suffered sexual violence at the hands of pirates, Karma managed to escape the Fall of Saigon and travel to the USA, where she fell under the care of Professor X. Charles Xavier chose her as his first recruit for the New Mutants team, and her team-mates instinctively followed her lead.

Will She Be In The Movie?

This is the story many fans expected to see — at least alluded to — in the New Mutants movie. But later developments cast doubt on this. First, director Josh Boone posted this comic cover to Instagram, teasing the lineup for the movie.

Karma was conspicuously absent from this image, which is a sketch by comic artist Phil Noto based on the early 1980s run of New Mutants that he particularly enjoyed. Karma was still the team leader at this point in the story, so it's unclear why Noto chose to exclude her from his sketch. In any case, Boone's promotion of this art has lead many people to believe that the movie's lineup will be as follows: Moonstar, Magik, Wolfsbane, Warlock, and Cannonball. Later casting confirmed Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams) and Magik (Anna Taylor-Joy).

There is another development that suggests Karma won't appear in the New Mutants movie: James McAvoy, previously reported to reprise his role of Professor X, was later confirmed not to appear in the movie. This would imply that the film will not follow the formation of the team by Professor X, but will jump straight into their story a few years later. And considering Karma is an important part of the team's beginning, all bets are off as to whether she'll be included in the movie.

This is truly unfortunate. Karma is the longest running New Mutants leader, so on the basis of her character history alone there's no reason why Fox would choose to exclude her from the movie adaptation of the comics. It is possible though, that her sexuality had something to do with it: As much as fans want to see LGBT people represented in superhero movies (the most empowering of all genres), it's true that any sexuality that isn't straight tends to make studio execs nervous.

Until the casting is officially released, we won't know whether Karma will make her big screen debut in New Mutants. But considering the LGBT fakeouts that have been infesting Hollywood movies lately, we are in desperate need of some positive queer representation. Here's hoping that Fox finally deliver on that mutants-as-oppressed-people-metaphor promise, and include Karma in the movie.

Tell us in the comments: What do you want to see in New Mutants?


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