The X-Men cinematic universe found great critical and financial success with Deadpool, the R-rated superhero movie with raunchy humor and an unconventional protagonist. Its success encouraged Fox to try different flavors in the X-Men universe which, until this year, had been playing it relatively safe when it came to their superhero projects.
Since then, several projects have been in development, including Deadpool 2, Gambit (though that project has been beset with troubles), X-Force and The New Mutants. The latter is the film in Fox's new wave of superhero cinema with the most momentum behind it, and this week, The Hollywood Reporter dropped more news on its progress.
The site is reporting that The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now writers Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter will be penning the script for New Mutants. This will reunite them with director Josh Boone, with whom they previously worked with on Fault in Our Stars.
The new team of mutants will consist of Wolfsbane/Rahne Sinclair, Danielle Moonstar/Mirage, Sunspot/Roberto da Costa, Cannonball/Samuel Guthrie, Illyana Rasputin/Magik (Colossus' sister) and Warlock, a young alien from a race known as Technarchy. The thing is that, the comic book series that New Mutants is adapting is of a very different tone from what we've seen so far from the X-Men movie universe.
New Mutants Proves Fox Is Taking The X-Men Franchise In A New Direction
The X-Men cinematic universe has so far mostly explored heavy and serious themes like segregation, discrimination and violence against mutants, with them trying to prove themselves and earn a place among humans. It also has been fairly grounded in realistic emotional struggles, if fantastic plots. And while most of the films were well-handled and provided us with better context and understanding of the moral conflict mutants face every day, these themes have been explored several times already.
Paired with the fact that almost every new superhero movie is trying to be dark and gritty, the X-Men franchise needs a change of pace. With its films being uneven in tone and not really giving audiences a cohesive feel and set identity for the X-Men universe, it needs either a clearer direction or a new one entirely, and that was reemphasized by X-Men: Apocalypse.
Audience desire for a change of pace was proven by Deadpool. The movie was essentially a well-executed parody of the genre that graces the big screen three to half a dozen times every year. It gave us a an absurd and raunchy protagonist and a movie that didn't take itself seriously; audiences responded to it by making it one of the most successful superhero films to date. In contrast, X-Men: Apocalypse (a film I enjoyed very much) underperformed at the box office and was given a resounding "meh" by critics.
Now, Fox appears to be rethinking its long-term plans and taking the X-Men franchise in a new direction with the New Mutants. These characters are unlike anything we've seen before in the X-Men world, not only tonally but also in the characters they are exploring. This is the story of a group of fun-loving, sometimes reckless teenagers trying to find their place in the world while possessing amazing abilities.
The X-Men franchise has so far focused mostly on the adult characters, with Wolverine, Professor X, and the adult teachers being the focus of the first trilogy, and Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique being the focus of the second. But one of the staples of the original comic books was having a group of teenagers struggling with not only naturally feeling like they don't belong, but also having abilities that automatically set them apart from everybody else.
The benefit of adapting the New Mutants comic books however, is that it takes those same themes that originally made the X-Men so popular but with a twist. It mixes the teen drama with levity and fun to create a welcoming and different dynamic for its characters and atmosphere from the usual grim comic book story arcs.
The New Mutants are kids trying to make the best of their abilities and live up to the X-Men mantle while not necessarily always following the rules, which presents the opportunity to have a more relaxed and adventurous superhero movie. Deadpool already opened the door for something like this and Fox is no doubt looking at New Mutants as their opportunity to revitalize the X-Men franchise.
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Considering that Magneto is now in good terms with Charles Xavier, I'd love the movie to follow the comic books and have Eric as the school's headmaster as he whips the new team into shape with his strict demeanor. This could enhance the movie's hopefully original approach and give us different students-guardian dynamic than what we've already gotten.
Expanding The Scope Of The Universe
The New Mutants will mark a change for the X-Men not only tonally but also on the concepts that they touch upon. Warlock, who will be a member of the team, is an alien. This might pave the way for the first time the X-Men franchise explores life on other planets; strangely, as Fox owns the rights to very interesting characters, such as Annihilus and the Skrulls (which they co-own with Marvel).
Something I love about superhero movies touching on cosmic themes is the grander scale it gives to the established world. Now these characters can live in a universe where something much bigger and much more powerful than them exists. Knowing that Warlock is the very first alien in the X-Men movie universe gets me just as excited for the future of the franchise as the first time I saw Thanos in the post-credits scene of The Avengers.
Introducing an alien character gives precedent for space-based storylines, making them feel like something that's been slowly built up instead of a random thing that appears out of nowhere. By the look of things, New Mutants will arrive before the next installment in the core X-Men movie series, which Bryan Singer has stated he would like to take place in space, so New Mutants will undoubtedly work in their favor to present that storyline as smoothly as possible in a franchise that's been mostly grounded in reality.
I am very excited to see what the New Mutants bring to the X-Men world. If handled well, this property can become a big hit in the superhero genre. And considering the writers attached have plenty of experience writing teenagers, we will hopefully get a fun film that approaches the theme of being a teenager having these amazing powers in the right way. I'm also hoping that New Mutants takes away Fox's reluctance to use aliens in their universe because, let's face it, we are ready for the X-Men to have a larger scope.
Which New Mutants storyline would you want the movie to be based upon? Let me know in the comments!