In turbulent times, it’s good to have a few reminders that not every part of the world has changed for the worse. Maybe it’s the trill of birdsong outside your window. The smile on the face of a loved one, the affection of a family pet. A warm beam of sunlight glancing across your table. Just the little reminders that the Earth keeps on turning.
Me? Well, I take that comfort from a more unusual source – the cosy, safe certainty that whatever happens, X-Men movie spin-off New Mutants will never, ever, actually be released. And I’m beginning to think that’s just as it should be.
Originally slated to come out in April 2018, the Josh Boone-directed movie has been delayed over and over again, regularly shifting its release date due to rumoured reshoots, corporate takeovers and just plain bad luck.
The latest? After securing another release date the coronavirus pandemic knocked the film into the long grass again, with Disney now assuring fans that it’ll definitely, really, OK we mean it this time be released at the end of August, nearly two and a half years after we were first supposed to see it.
Maybe we’ll be flocking back to the cinemas by then, maybe not – but at this stage I feel pretty strongly that New Mutants just shouldn’t come out. At all.
In fact, I’d argue that at this stage the main appeal of New Mutants is that it never actually arrives – like the titular character of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the point of New Mutants discourse has become its absence, the possibility that it could arrive – but ultimately won’t.
Already its cultural impact is unparalleled. If the film had just come out in 2018 as planned, would we still be talking about it? No! If it actually came out, would it live up to the constantly delayed gratification it’s engendered so far? I’d rather live in this torrid pop culture retelling of the Tantalus myth, thank you very much.
There have been legendarily delayed films before, of course – Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now took seven months longer than planned with a spiralling budget, while Terry Gilliam’s attempt to dramatize the novel Don Quixote took 29 years – but nothing has flailed and failed with quite the panache New Mutants has.
So far New Mutants has managed to outlive the X-Men’s shared universe, an 83-year-old movie studio and (arguably) Western civilisation itself, while everyone involved still doggedly insists that this time, definitely, it’ll come out. A few weeks ago, Empire magazine ran a full in-depth feature about the film’s development woes finally being over, which was released just as the release date was shifted again. How can you not admire that sort of style and commitment to the bit?
If it just… comes out, the fun stops. By all accounts Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote drama was more interesting as an iconic story of development hell than the film itself ended up being, and similarly I’d be quite happy to see New Mutants tilting at windmills (or at least, release windows) forever.
Picture the scene: centuries in the future, humanity gathers for the Great Ritual. Today, they assemble the ceremonial robes, mouse ears and votive offerings needed for the central worship of their religion – the bimonthly shifting of New Mutants’ release window.
Nobody knows why this began. Disney, FOX and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are dead empires, crumbled into dust, and popular culture as we know it is buried with the bones of our own civilisation – but New Mutants is now a cornerstone of this new, vibrant society.
As the priests begin the hallowed incantations, in a dead language they no longer speak – “Why won’t they just put this on Disney+?!” “Does this mean the X-Men are in the MCU?” “What happened to Mr Sinister?” – a treasured, battered old billboard from the Hollywood Boulevard is lowered, the numbered dating (now obsolete) scratched over for a new, later release.
“Preparing for a summer bow!” chants everyone present.
Cue celebrations, feasting and dancing, all under the papery eyes of stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton, glaring down unknowingly and impassively from a lost world of ashes.
That’s the future I want to see. While other movies cancelling or shifting their releases is an unnerving, once-in-a-lifetime trend at the moment, for New Mutants it’s just business as usual. Frankly, if it did actually come out I’d be more worried.
In difficult times, it’s good to know what remains the same. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. We all live, laugh and love together.
New Mutants’ release date has been shifted once more, and all is right with the world.
New Mutants is set for release (no really) on the 28th August