San Diego Comic-Con@Home: The New Mutants Panel Recap

Director Josh Boone’s New Mutants, an adaption of the popular Marvel comic book, has had one of the longest and strangest journeys to the big screen in cinema history, and it’s not over yet. The film, which was shot over three years ago, has had its release date changed several times due to a series of different events including Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox. It finally looked like it was going to be released this April, and then the Coronavirus hit, and the film was pushed to later this summer. While it currently has a release date of August 28th, given the spread of the virus, that is still in doubt. In fact, most fans expected it would be announced at the New Mutants Comic-Con@Home panel on Thursday, that the film is being released on Disney+. However, that did not happen, and it was confirmed that the plan is still to release the film in theaters at some point, but no specific date was given. 

On hand virtually for the panel on Thursday was director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), and cast members Maisie Williams (Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane), Anya Taylor-Joy (Illyana Rasputin/Magik), Charlie Heaton (Sam Guthrie/Cannonball), Blu Hunt (Danielle Moonstar/Mirage), Henry Zaga (Roberto da Costa/Sunspot), and Alice Braga (Dr. Cecilia Reyes), as well as legendary comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz, whose ‘Demon Bear’ arc from the comics was the basis for the film. The virtual panel began with the reveal of exclusive Comic-Con New Mutant posters and emojis, as well as some fan art. “The fan art has been so amazing to see with the delay of the film. It feels like so many people have used that time to get excited about it,” said Williams. 

Regarding the delays Boone joked, “There are also fans that have taken frames from all the trailers to try and put together the movie, which has been sort of amazing to see. All I know is that when it is about to open again, there will be an asteroid that hits Earth.” Sienkiewicz added, “People have talked about this being a cursed film because it has taken forever, but I think in some respects the lockdown has actually amped up the level of interest.” Boone agreed with Sienkiewicz that since the film is based on the ‘Demon Bear’ arc, “it’s possible” that the film is cursed too. “I guess we’re just excited for the fans to see it. Everybody has been waiting so long and they are so enthusiastic online. People are so responsive to the trailers, so we’re just excited for people to see it,” Boone said. 

Maisie Williams discussed the relationship between Wolfsbane and Mirage in the film, and the chemistry she had with actress Blu Hunt. “I met with Josh, a while ago, and got the part., she explained. “Then we had chemistry tests to find Mirage. Just from the first audition that we did together, we got on well. It was really wonderful to see a relationship like this. In the typically masculine world of super heroes, it was just lovely to see these two fragile women who protect one another and bring light out of each other. But I’m happy that the fans are excited for it because I think it is really important to see relationships like this and it was a joy to work with Blu. I think at the heart of it, there is just this really lovely love story and it just brings it back to reality I think.” Boone added about the relationship, “Just like in the comics, they had a telepathic link already, and it just naturally sort of happened that way. We just wanted to have characters that you fell in love with while they fall in love.” The filmmaker also mentioned that the chemistry test Williams mentioned between her and Hunt will be included on the eventual Blu-ray and DVD release. “You can’t imagine how nervous I was,” Hunt said of the audition. “I was like, oh, I have to go kiss Maisie Williams? It was very nerve racking, I have to say.”

Anya Taylor-Joy discussed playing the “bad girl” character of Illyana Rasputin and the complicated action sequences she had to shoot for the film. “Because we shot it a while ago, Magik was the first character I’ve ever played that stomped into a room,” she laughed. “I have never experienced that before. It was a lot of aggressiveness a lot of the time. But it was really fun, and I got to play around with that a lot. The action scenes, with the whole arm and the sword, you feel pretty cool when you are doing that.” Charlie Heaton talked about his character of Sam Guthrie and his outsider persona. “I found that there was a lot of strength in Sam and leadership qualities he might have in the future. You can see where he is going,” he explained. “There was a real inner pain with Sam, and I guess that was something to go off of for my character. What I like about the movie is that it is a super hero film, but there were these real inner conflicts between the characters that you could get a hold of and really create.”

Actress Alice Braga described her character, Dr. Cecilia Reyes, who is in charge of the children at the hospital where the film takes place. “I wanted to understand what Josh wanted from this woman and why she is trying to teach these children how to control their powers, and how to guide them through their pasts,” the actress said. “As a fan, I was excited for it because I could see the details and the personalities of each member of the cast. It was a fun character to play.” Actor Henry Zaga revealed that he took his role so seriously, that in order to be the right physical shape for shooting his shirtless scene, he stopped drinking water 24 hours prior to shooting. But unfortunately, the scene kept getting pushed to the next day and he didn’t drink water for several days in a row. When he appeared weak on set to Boone, the director asked Zaga what was wrong. The actor explained that he just wanted to look “amazing” for the scene. Boone confirmed the incident and that he would never ask an actor to “not drink water” for a role. 

The director then announced that he had a surprise for the audience, and screened the first scene from the movie, along with a sizzle reel featuring some new footage. The scene began with a voice over from Danielle Moonstar (Hunt), talking about an old Native American proverb about two bears that live in every person, ever combating for your soul. One is good, and one is evil, fighting for self-destruction. We then see Moonstar’s origin story, with her father rescuing her from a disaster and hiding her in the woods, only for her to see his murder at the hands of an unidentified presence. She is knocked out and wakes up chained to a bed in a hospital, which is where the bulk of the film’s story takes place. Then the sizzle reel begins with Dr. Reyes’ (Braga) voice over saying, “All of you have killed someone. If you weren’t here you would be in prison, or worse. You are mutants, and you are dangerous. This place is your greatest fear.” We then see flashes of the five main characters in the hospital, fighting with each other, fighting their own demons, and using their various powers including Charlie Heaton flying as Cannonball, Henry Zaga firing up as Sunspot, and Maisie Williams becoming Wolfsbane. The clip ends with an epic battle sequence where Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) attacks the Demon Bear with her iconic light-sword. 

Finally, Boone announced an exclusive contest to win tickets to see an advanced screening of New Mutants some time before it opens in theaters. When will that be? Boone didn’t say, but he hinted that it might not be soon and to “wear a mask” when it does happen. “You might just get to see it, finally,” the director said optimistically in closing. 

Written by
A graduate of Emerson College, Jami Philbrick has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, and most recently was a Senior Staff Reporter and Video Producer for Mtime, China's largest entertainment website. Before that, Philbrick was the Managing Editor of Relativity Media's iamROGUE.com for 4 years and has written for a variety of magazines and online publications including Wizard Magazine, Nerdist.com, and Collider.com. Philbrick has also been a contributor on Fox News, News 12 Westchester, AMC Movie Talk, and the PBS movie review series, Just Seen It. Philbrick was the 2019 recipient of the International Media Award at the 56th annual ICG Publicists Awards, and has interviewed such impressive talent as Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Willis, Mark Hamill, Spike Lee, Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Stan Lee, and Kermit the Frog.

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