Home / World wide / Anya Taylor-Joy’s Magik Is the Best Part of the Messy ‘The New Mutants’ Movie

Anya Taylor-Joy’s Magik Is the Best Part of the Messy ‘The New Mutants’ Movie

The New Mutants is the oddest movie in Fox’s interrupted X-Men franchise. Development on The New Mutants began in 2017 when Fox decided to expand the franchise into exciting directions by incorporating elements of new genres and introducing less-known Mutant characters. In The New Mutants case, the goal was to make a horror X-Men movie that was at some point designed to be an R-rated experience. Filmmaking is a complicated business, though, and after multiple delays, the movie got stuck into a corporate limbo after Disney bought Fox and decided to scrap the X-Men franchise in favor of adding the Mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, director Josh Boone didn’t get the opportunity to materialize his vision for The New Mutants, and the movie was eventually released as a half-baked version of a truly intriguing concept.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: The New Mutants is a mess. The PG-13 rating the movie eventually got for the version Disney agreed to release hurts the horror potential of the project, and the tight 99 minutes runtime is a superhero anomaly that underlines how the story had to be polished before hitting theaters. To make things worse, Disney released The New Mutants in theaters when the pandemic was still keeping us inside our homes, resulting in a measly $49.2 million box office, not enough money even to pay its production costs. Although The New Mutants was done dirty for multiple reasons, chances are meager that something gets done with the franchise in the future, which is a shame since the movie does have some redeeming aspects. Above everything else, Anya Taylor-Joy’s Magik is reason enough to give The New Mutants a chance.

Uncountable words were written already about how Mutants are used to represent marginalized minorities. Every X-Men movie is about looking for acceptance in a world that despises differences, giving a certain tragedy to stories involving Mutants. More than often, a Mutant journey follows similar steps, as their powers show up in puberty, making them pariahs of society. It’s not random that so many people see a queer ethos in the X-Men franchise, and rightfully so. Still, this approach to storytelling usually paints being a Mutant as a painful experience that pushes people away instead of a tool of liberation and self-love.

The New Mutants is no different. The movie takes place in a medical institution that specializes in containing dangerous teenage Mutants. Five patients are being treated in The New Mutants, and all their backstories are connected by the fact their powers cause death and destruction. Dani Moonstar, aka Mirage (Blu Hunt), accidentally turns her nightmares about a giant bear into reality, murdering her Cheyenne Native American community. As for Bobby da Costa, aka Sunspot (Henry Zaga), his inability to control his temperature and prevent his body from igniting ends up burning his girlfriend alive. There’s also Sam Guthrie, aka Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), whose kinetic powers cause a landslide inside the mine where he worked with his father, killing everyone he knew. Even gentle Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), loses control over her wolf form and slays the Christian zealot who branded her as a witch. It’s not so hard to detect a pattern, as each character’s Mutation is the catalyst for all their troubles. The only hero that follows a different path is Magik, whose powers save her from being sexually abused.

While Magik’s teammates often see their powers as a curse, Illyana Rasputin embraces her abilities as a gift. As The New Mutants painfully reveals, Illyana was a victim of sex trafficking and used as a toy for the pleasure of multiple men. Contrary to her friends, Magik’s Mutation is not random but reflects how the young Illyana went to a fantasy world inside her mind to escape the horrors of reality. So, when the X-Gene kicked in, it granted Illyana the incredible ability to teleport to Limbo, a fantasy dimension where she could become a mighty warrior. Magik can even bring some fantasy into the real world, giving life to her plushy dragon Lockheed and branding the powerful Soulsword. In short, Illyana’s backstory follows the opposite path of most Mutants, as her abilities are welcomed as a blessing, allowing her to take revenge on her abusers and any other person who dares to harm children. That’s also why the deaths caused by Magik are not accidental but the fruit of her bloody revenge. That alone makes Magik more interesting than any other character in The New Mutants, even if the entire cast is extremely talented.

While Magik is by far the best-written character of The New Mutants, Taylor-Joy’s character is the highlight of the movie also due to how it reveals the horror potential of the project. The film revolves around Dani as she slowly figures out her Mutant powers. Meanwhile, Dani inadvertently enters her new friends’ minds and brings their darkest fears to life. So, after Dani gets to the hospital, everyone has nightmarish visions that force them to relieve the worst moments of their lives, perilous situations that can harm people for real.

In Magik’s case, her traumas make Dani conjure an army of Smiling Men. As Magik reveals, she doesn’t remember the faces of the men who abuse her. All she knows is that they made her cry, and she made them smile. So, in Magik’s head, her abusers were all faceless men with big and tortuous smiles filled with sharp teeth. These are the creepy figures Dani brings to life after learning about Magik’s trauma in one of the scariest scenes of any Marvel movie. Sex trafficking is already a terrifying subject on its own, but The New Mutants finds a spine-chilling way to make these real monsters even more frightening. And while the movie struggles to find a balance between horror and coming-of-age drama, Magik’s background and the visions she helps materialize give us a pretty good idea of how creepy a full-blown X-Men horror movie could be.

While Marvel Studios is actively working to bring the Mutants into the MCU, there’s still no concrete plan to give X-Men characters another opportunity to shine. Fortunately, thanks to the Multiverse, Marvel Studios is willing to reuse fan-favorite cast members, such as Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. That means the door is open to reintroducing other Mutants. And when it comes to The New Mutants, no character deserves more of a second chance than Anya Taylor-Joy’s Magik.


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