The New Mutants never had a chance.
It’s as simple as that. The most surprising thing about this movie is that it saw the light of day at all – Josh Boone’s stab at the X-Men universe was supposed to plant seeds for the years to come, but thanks to Disney buying 20th Century Fox, New Mutants follows in the footsteps of Dark Phoenix as the last limping efforts of a franchise that could make a solid claim as being the true beginning of the current (and seemingly never-ending) superhero dominance in the movie industry. From 2000’s X-Men to now, the longest running superhero franchise is over.
As a last chapter, The New Mutants is disappointing in every way. Billed a good two years ago as the franchise stepping into the horror genre, the first trailer was extremely promising. It looked like X-Men meets A Nightmare on Elm Street – coming-of-age horror with a comic book twist. In short, it looked great. Cut to present day and we have a cut of the movie that the director (probably aware of how Fox tanked Josh Trank after the troubled production of the last Fantastic Four movie) keeps saying is the version that he wanted. Oh, Josh, if that was true, then you never knew what you were doing with this movie.
The New Mutants fails at being a horror story, simply, because it’s not even remotely scary. It fails at being a superhero story because those superheroics might as well be cookie-cut from every other superhero movie. It fails as a coming-of-age story because none of the characters are even remotely interesting. Some, such as Magik, are crap clichés of mean girl and oversexed foreigner tropes – Anya Taylor-Joy should probably sue, though at least she had The Queen’s Gambit to wipe clean the memory of this before it took root.
Perhaps the only thing The New Mutants has going for it is the romantic pairing of Danielle (Blu Hunt) and Rahne (Maisie Williams). Unlike Deadpool 2’s lazy attempt at diversity points, and completely unlike every other superhero movie for not even trying that hard (I see you, Russo Brother playing the unnamed gay snap survivor, try harder), there is a spark of something resembling chemistry between the two making their pairing feel much more organic. But that’s all.
It’s amazing to see how the Fox-owned Marvel characters have been brought so low. It was only a few years ago that Logan and Deadpool pointed to a more varied direction in the X-Men franchise. Since then, the Fantastic Four have been in another movie so bad that I wouldn’t be surprised if Josh Trank was an MCU plant, two main continuity X-Men movies took the clean slate given to them by the excellent Days of Future Past and threw up all over it. Now, with New Mutants, Fox’s last swing for the fences is yet another reason why this whole franchise has been mismanaged. Maybe Disney can do better. But I doubt it.
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By Kevin Boyle
(header image via Vulture)