New Mutants Film
New Mutants film has had a struggle making it to the big screen. The thirteenth and final film in the decade spanning X-Men franchise has seen some highs and lows; from my personal pick for best film ever, Logan, to the film that helped almost destroy the genre, The Wolverine. The X-Men franchise is actually the 5th highest grossing franchise in cinema beating out Batman with fewer films. Unlike other long running franchises such as James Bond, Spider-Man or Batman; X-Men has ostensibly followed continuous continuity throughout its entire run. Time-Travelling aside, what happens in one movie is connected and referenced in other films in the franchise. Logan notes in 2029 how “It’s been a long time since New York” referencing the events of the first film, and New Mutants in turn, directly references not only Logan but also Age of Apocalypse, as well as frequently name-dropping the X-Men themselves.
A Connected Universe
The X-Men were perhaps one of the first examples of a cinematic universe where independent films spun off into subfranchises. Many of which referenced previous material, but were not absolutely integral to it. After the blockbuster success of one of the worst films in the franchise X-Men: Last Stand, the franchise was riding high. Last Stand remains the highest grossing X-Men film that doesn’t star Ryan Reynolds and capped off the original trilogy of groundbreaking films. In comics, the long awaited Wolverine: Origins had just been printed finally cementing in adamantium our boy Logan’s origins. So what better place to go next than a series of flashbacks featuring popular X-Men characters.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was to be the start of a series of origins movies, featuring Magneto and Gambit and introducing Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, a role he had been desperate for even before his tragic portrayal as Green Lantern. However after Wolverine failed to smash box office records, Gambit was tossed aside and Magneto was retooled to become X-Men: First Class. The Wolverine came out shortly after as the second film in the Wolverine trilogy, and Wolverine was put front and center in the sequel to First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, another period piece taking place approximately a decade after both First Class and Last Stand thanks to the magic of time travel. Days of Future Past managed to, thanks to the magic of time travel, erase the subpar movies in the franchise and breathe new life. The wildly successful Deadpool, eclipsed all other films in the franchise, and the mediocre X-Men: Apocalypse soon followed, returning the franchise back to questionable quality. Leaning hard into the R-rating, Logan and Deadpool 2 made heaps of money and received wide critical acclaim.
New Mutant Order
That’s when Disney stepped in. Dark Phoenix was all but finished and released on time, to deep disappointment. Failing for the second time to tell one of the most beloved stories in X-Men history. New Mutants however was not so lucky. It had been planned for release around the same time as Deadpool 2, and story elements were leaked during the ending credits scene in Apocalypse. Aiming for a “Steven King meets John Hughes’-style horror movie” filming began in July 2017 and ended later that year and much of the horror elements were dialed back during filming in order to appeal it’s family-friendly comic book superhero demographic.
Stuck In Film Limbo
As the film reached its final stages, It was hailed as a great success, and the studio decided to test how New Mutants might have done if they went all-in on the horror like originally planned, and the horror trailer released on Friday the 13th, 2017 tested quite well. The studio delayed the film to avoid competing with Deadpool 2 and it was delayed even further to avoid overlapping with Dark Phoenix. For those keeping score at home, that’s over two years of delays, giving the studio plenty of time to reshoot the film as needed. Those reshoots never happened. Between Disney’s acquisition of the entire franchise, and the lackluster success of the recent non-R rated films. The film was ready to be released right when the pandemic hit, delaying its release one more time.
So How Is It?
It’s fine. I enjoyed the heck out of it, but I’ve been a fan of the franchise since the beginning. I went into the film knowing who Lockheed and Ilyana were, and that Arya was playing one of several feral wolf-girls in the X-Universe. What I did not expect was how much a part of the X-Men universe it actually was, carrying on from Apocalypse and lifting footage from Logan, it really felt like the beginning of a whole new franchise. Which it was. Until it wasn’t. The film does not hold up well as a horror film. Which is fine with me since I’m not really into horror in general. Instead it followed the coming of age of a young mutant whose powers are dangerous not only to her, but also to those around her. Dani is trapped in an automated facility until she learns to control her powers. Her fellow inmates hope to graduate to join the program’s sponsors, who everyone assumes are the X-Men. Spoiler alert, it’s not the X-Men. It may not be the best film in the franchise, but it’s far from the worst. It’s a sort of tragic tale of what could have been if not for outside meddling. While Dani and the New Mutants escape and begin their new life, the franchise itself is dead. The lack of any sort of post-credits sequence, a staple of Marvel movies from the beginning is the final nail in the coffin. There will be no more mutants. The Mouse did what decades of supervillains could not.
New Mutants is available in theaters now and streaming on Vudu.