The New Mutants

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I don’t think that The New Mutants (2020) would be as much fun without the stellar performances of the films leads, nor do I think that New Mutants would exist if Netflix’s Stranger Things hadn’t popularized teen horror films again. The influence of Stranger Things is all over New Mutants from production design to narrative structure. But New Mutants adds a few other influences to the mix in order to achieve something more original than anticipated. Screenwriters Josh Boone and Knate Lee clearly had Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978) on their minds (making use of surveillance cameras to great effect). The fact that De Palma’s influence runs throughout New Mutants speaks to how unlike other comic book movies the film is. Having revisited The Fury before seeing New Mutants myself, I was left wondering if De Palma’s film hadn’t influenced Chris Claremont as well.

Director Josh Boone spends so much time with the teen age protagonists just being teens that he clearly understands what made Claremont’s run so influential and fun. Injecting this approach with some De Palma and coating it in the trappings of Stranger Things and you’d think that Boone would have a critical and commercial hit on his hands (at least to the extent that Disney would contemplate reviving the originally planned sequel). 

If critics and audiences have lost their attachment to The Fury, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which the characters watch throughout) and, more generally, the superhero “soap opera” then what will become of the genre that Fox’s X-Men franchise sparked twenty years ago? Maybe the world isn’t ready for queer women superheroes or blockbusters that don’t look like Christopher Nolan’s used toilet paper.