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New Mutants Should Be Part Of The MCU

New Mutants should be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Josh Boone’s superhero horror film has been in development hell for several years now, in part as a consequence of the Disney/Fox acquisition. But New Mutants is finally releasing in April, and a new trailer has dropped in advance of the theatrical release.

But New Mutants is not part of the MCU. Neither Disney nor Marvel Studios had input into the New Mutants cast, director, or even its overall story. Despite the switch of studio, the Fox logo remains on the movie’s marketing, and no Marvel Studios logo was added to the trailer. As things stand, New Mutants is simply the last X-Men film Disney inherited from Fox, and not the beginning of the New Mutants trilogy Josh Boone had originally pitched.

It’s not hard to understand why Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios would be reluctant to incorporate New Mutants into the MCU. The creatives who first signed off on the project weren’t involved with Marvel Studios in any way. And yet, for all that’s the case, Marvel would be wise to decide to make this movie part of their shared cinematic universe.

Amid all the talk of reshoots and behind-the-scenes drama, it’s easy to forget that New Mutants is a labor of love for director Josh Boone. Fox didn’t come to Boone asking for this movie; he approached them, with a pitch that included panels from the Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiewicz New Mutants run, turned into a storyboard. It was Boone who hoped this would be the beginning of a trilogy, not Fox. And the passion Boone has for this project will make it uniquely interesting to Feige.

Under Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios has become increasingly director-driven. He doesn’t want people who’ll just go through the motions: he chooses directors who are truly excited by their projects, and who have a deep and abiding love of the comics themselves. Feige’s success is in part because he shares the fans‘ love of the comics themselves, and he enjoys working with directors who have that in common with him. Josh Boone is just the kind of man Feige would love to work with.

The theatrical release of New Mutants is all the more interesting because the film is finally coming out at a time when the superhero genre is beginning to change shape. Marvel Studios is still the market leader, but they’re no longer at the cutting edge, with the success of films like LoganDeadpool, and now Joker proving there’s a demand for atypical superhero films. Marvel doesn’t actually seem to have anything to scratch that particular cultural itch; Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had been the best bet, but it’s now clear that won’t be a horror movie. Scott Derrickson has stepped down as director over „creative differences,“ most probably meaning Marvel balked at that idea. New Mutants, then, would be a first step in adding some of this much-needed tonal diversity to the MCU; while New Mutants is still a PG-13, it’s clearly going to push at the boundaries of that rating a lot more than your standard MCU fare. The trailer wears its heart on its sleeve, with homages to the creepy Sienkiewicz art, Nightmare on Elm Street, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

But New Mutants wouldn’t just add tonal diversity into the MCU; it would also give Marvel Studios their first ever lesbian superheroes. While the film is generally comic-book-accurate, Boone seems to have switched things up a little, with a lesbian romance between Dani Moonstar and Wolfsbane. That’s quite a departure from Marvel Studios, which has been heavily criticized for a lack of diversity. It’s also an inspired choice, adding another layer to Wolfsbane’s backstory as a teenager whose personality and even sexual identity was repressed by a fundamentalist religious upbringing.

That moves us to some of the creative choices Boone has made when casting New Mutants. Although some have been controversial — notably the casting of Henry Zaga as Sunspot, given the superhero is traditionally portrayed with dark skin — others are absolutely inspired. The most notable is, of course, Anya Taylor-Joy’s Magik; frankly, Taylor-Joy’s epic performance in The Witch feels almost like a extended audition for the role. The New Mutants trailer suggests that Boone believes Magik will be the breakout star, and he’s probably right. Another excellent piece of casting is Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) as Wolfsbane, so spot on that Marvel Comics‘ artists have started making their version look just like her. Charlie Heaton seems to be a perfect Cannonball as well.

These casting choices are too good to waste. And here’s the catch: if New Mutants isn’t incorporated into the MCU, then they will indeed be wasted. Marvel has never been prone to repeat stories, or even characters that have been told before on the big screen; that’s why they avoided origin stories for the Hulk and Spider-Man in recent films, and it’s why they haven’t used classic Spider-Man villains like Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus (who appeared in Sony’s Sam Raimi trilogy). Feige himself has hinted that Marvel will avoid the „marquee names“ among the X-Men, that their first priority will be mutants viewers have never seen before. By the same logic, the New Mutants will move to the back of the queue for the MCU. Given the sheer number of mutants, it could be decades before Feige begins to look again at the likes of Magik, Wolfsbane, and Dani Moonstar — if, indeed, he ever does.

Surprisingly, the New Mutants trailer suggests it wouldn’t be hard to incorporate the film into the MCU. It clearly doesn’t take place in Fox’s mainstream X-Men universe, because it happens in a world where mutants are uncommon, where Doctor Cecilia Reyes has to explain them to the teenagers in her charge. The implication is that mutants have always existed in this world, but are presumably thought of as something of an urban legend, with only a few people knowing the truth. It’s really not difficult to imagine that being the case in the MCU.

In fact, curiously enough, there may have already been subtle hints at the existence of mutants in the MCU. According to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., S.H.I.E.L.D. kept a database of „enhanced“ people known as the Gifted Index. When a powered individual is located, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is sent to conduct what’s known as an „Index Asset Evaluation and Intake Report.“ Once an assessment was complete, S.H.I.E.L.D. assigned a case worker to keep tabs on the super-powered person. This dovetails perfectly with Ant-Man & the Wasp, which confirmed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been running enhanced assets in the field for a long time — and introduced Bill Foster as Ghost’s old S.H.I.E.L.D. case worker. Who else appeared in the Gifted Index, and how did they acquire their powers? Some could quite conceivably be mutants, identified and monitored by the agency. This approach would neatly parallel New Mutants.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the individual characters introduced in New Mutants would fit organically into the MCU as well. Unlike the rest of the X-Men, the New Mutants have always been well-integrated into the wider Marvel Comics universe, meaning they have stories that involve everything from Asgardians to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Dani Moonstar became a Valkyrie, Wolfsbane bore the son of an Asgardian wolf-god, Magik trained under Doctor Strange and is set to become a mentor in the upcoming Strange Academy, and both Sunspot and Cannonball joined the Avengers. In fact, Sunspot went on to lead an Avengers team. All these potential arcs would be opened up if New Mutants were written into the MCU — and that’s just what Marvel should do.

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