Let’s be honest: we’ve been waiting a long time to see THE NEW MUTANTS. The cast and writer/director share our pain, but they also share a genuine excitement about the film and an obvious love for the fans who continue to support it. They gathered together on Thursday to talk about the movie, whether it really is cursed, and the incredible fan art that they’ve seen while anticipation builds for the film’s release (whenever that may be). Attending the panel were writer/director Josh Boone, moderator Ira Madison III, legendary comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz, and the cast of THE NEW MUTANTS: Maisie Williams (Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane), Anya Taylor-Joy (Illyana Rasputin/Magik), Charlie Heaton (Sam Guthrie/Cannonball), Alice Braga (Cecilia Reyes), Blu Hunt (Danielle Moonstar/Mirage), and Henry Zaga (Roberto da Costa/Sunspot).
The panel opened with a hilariously tongue-in-cheek trailer that featured release dates being scratched out and replaced with new ones, only to be pushed back again and again to August 28, 2020…”Fingers Crossed.” Though it remains to be seen whether that release date will hold (although, to be frank, it seems pretty much impossible), based on the trailer and the opening scene that aired later in the panel, there is a lot in THE NEW MUTANTS for comic book fans and horror fans to be excited about once it’s safe to go back to the cinema.
Madison showed off some adorable character emojis that the cast seemed to love, and we got a look at some impressive fan art, including several posters that drew on influences like “Stranger Things” (a shout-out to Heaton, who plays Jonathan Byers on the show) and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. Boone joked that one poster looked like “I Know What You Did Last Summer, but it was a bunch of summers ago,” showing his fondness for good-natured frustration in the face of the continual release date postponement. Madison and Boone geeked out over their love for Dream Warriors, showing off some excellent horror movie taste, and then the panel dove into the movie itself.
Bill Sienkiewicz stopped by briefly to show off his gorgeous poster for the movie and discuss what it was like seeing big-screen adaptations of some of his most beloved characters. He said that the cast truly “inhabited the characters…I can’t see the characters I drew without picturing all of you now.” Sienkiewicz was on set and read every incarnation of the script, according to Boone, who said that the iconic artist has been “a cheerleader really since the beginning.” As far as the movie being cursed, Sienkiewicz disagreed, saying that “the lockdown has actually kind of just amped up the level of interest. People are really rabid for this.”
Sienkiewicz had to leave the panel pretty quickly, but Boone continued to praise him in discussing his motivations for making the movie. He said he has loved this particular run of THE NEW MUTANTS since he was a kid, because “it sort of mixed dark fantasy and horror with superhero comics, and I’d never really seen anything like that before.” The trailer and opening sequence definitely combine elements of sci-fi, horror, and superhero action in an exciting way, and Boone reiterated that he’s very eager for the audience to be able to see the finished product.
The cast then talked about connecting with their characters in some charming and surprising ways. Maisie Williams said that she related much more to the quiet and reserved Rahne than to Arya Stark, because it’s “kind of exhausting” to “command the room” like her “Game of Thrones” character. Anya Taylor-Joy was on the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that she really enjoyed playing the dominant and confident Illyana: “Magik was the first character I ever had that, like, stomped into a room…it was really fun.” Charlie Heaton said he keyed into Sam’s strength and “real inner pain,” digging into Sam’s internal conflict to build the character.
When Madison asked Blu Hunt how she was doing, she spoke for all of us when she hesitated and then said, “I’m doing.” She continued to be one of the most relatable people on the panel when she revealed that she’s a huge horror fan: “I feel like I’ve seen so many horror films that I’ve run out of horror films to watch, unfortunately.” She confessed that she was scared every day on set just having the responsibility of leading such a big movie and that she was incredibly nervous when she had to do chemistry reads with Williams.
Finding the perfect Dani was a challenge, said Boone, but they definitely found her in Blu Hunt: “I don’t know that we could have made the movie without her.” Rahne and Dani have a romantic relationship, and according to Boone that love story is “the spine of the movie.” Williams expanded on how meaningful it was to her to have queer representation in a superhero movie. “It was just lovely to see these two fragile women who just protect one another and bring light out in each other,” Williams said, adding that “it’s really important to see relationships like this.”
THE NEW MUTANTS is currently scheduled to release on August 28, 2020. Even if it gets pushed again due to the pandemic, I’m not losing any of my enthusiasm to see this exciting genre mash-up based on a classic comic book run.