Don’t go into 2018’s New Mutants movie expecting a straight-up recapitulation of the original 1980s X-Men spin-off about a group of teenagers training to be mutant superheroes in their own right. Director Josh Boone has a very different take on the source material.
“We are making a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe,” Boone told Entertainment Weekly. “There are no costumes. There are no supervillains. We’re trying to do something very, very different.”
That’s not to say Boone isn’t looking to the comics for inspiration. In fact, there’s one storyline in particular that he seems to be hinting at for the movie’s plot: the run of issues illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz. Boone espouses a view shared by many comic book fans when he calls Sienkiewicz “one of the most amazing comic book artists ever.”
That run — described by Boone as “a darker and more surreal and impressionistic X-Men series than we’d ever seen before. It felt like Stephen King meets John Hughes” — contained a storyline that became known as the “Demon Bear Saga.” The de facto leader of the group has to face off against a demon in the shape of a bear that claimed to have killed her parents and intends to kill her next. After she tries (and fails) to defeat the demon on her own, it falls on her fellow students to face him together.
No, I’m not spoiling what happens next. Read the comics (or listen to a podcast recapping and analyzing the storyline) for yourselves.
The New Mutants movie isn’t the only X-Men sattelite property influenced by Sienkiewicz’s run on the comic series. The issues illustrated by the artist (and written by New Mutants creator Chris Claremont) also gave the franchise David Haller, the character at the heart of FX’s Legion. If the quality of Legion is any guide, New Mutants will be spectacular.
X-Men: New Mutants, which will star Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams and maybe Rosario Dawson, is scheduled for release April 13, 2018.