The success of the sarcastic, R-rated spinoff Deadpool appears to have changed the game considerably for Fox's X-Men franchise. With the so-called "First Class Trilogy" of timeline-reworking prequels set to conclude with X-Men: Apocalypse, the franchise's focus appears to have shifted from plotting out what comes next with the main series to tangential characters and teams like Deadpool & Cable, X-Force and The New Mutants -- largely characters tied to the X-Men comics in the 1990s under creators like Rob Liefeld.
Now, the director of the upcoming New Mutants film has begun to drop not-so-subtle hints as to which characters fans can expect to join the first cinematic incarnation of the team.
Created in 1982, The New Mutants were a team of young teenage mutants enrolled at Professor Xavier's school -- the pitch at the time being that they would inherit the original X-Men series focus on school-aged characters now that their predecessors had grown up into adulthood and had begun to more closely resemble a traditional Avengers-style superhero team. Though originally viewed as an also-ran to its more famous "parent" franchise, the series would develop a devoted following and run until 1991, when the New Mutants heroes themselves "grew up" into The X-Force under writer/artist Rob Liefeld.
The team included a variety of characters over its run, and director Josh Boone recently began sharing images of many of them. Reliable sources have confirmed to Screen Rant that these images do indeed represent characters planned to be included in the film -- though whether or not they represent the entire main roster of the titular team remains to be seen. Take a look at Boone's Instagram posts to see who might be included in the upcoming film:
WARLOCK: Not a Mutant but rather a young "techno-organic" alien of the warlike Technarchy species, who turned against his own kind and allied himself with The New Mutants while on Earth. Long considered one of the X-Men franchise characters least likely to appear in live-action, owing to his bizarre physical appearance as an amorphous mass of black machinery criss-crossed with neon circuitry that can morph at will into any shape, it should be intriguing to see how the film plans to realize him.
MAGIK: a.k.a. Colossus' younger sister Ilya Rasputin. Interestingly, originally Ilya was not specifically a mutant but rather a "normal" human supporting character in the X-books who was kidnapped from Earth into the supernatural realm of Limbo -- only to return having aged from a six year-old into her teens and having become a powerful magic-user. Subsequent stories retconned said "magic" abilities (including teleporation and use of a "soulsword" weapon) into latent mutant powers that had been unlocked while trapped in Limbo.
SUNSPOT: a.k.a. Roberto DeCosta. A biracial Brazilian teenage soccer prodigy with the ability to transform his body into pure solar energy, allowing him to fly and throw blasts of concussive energy. A version of the character already appeared in the alternate-future sequences of X-Men: Days of Future Past, though it's unclear whether the role will be recast for this version.
CANNONBALL: a.k.a. Sam Guthrie, who can fly at jet-speed while encased in a protective forcefield. Originally written as the obligatory audience-identification "sci-fi fanboy" character among the first New Mutants team. He has also been an X-Men member and an Avenger as an adult.
MIRAGE: a.k.a. "Pysche," a.k.a. Danielle Moonstar, a Cheyenne Native American from Colorado. A telepath with the usual roster of "psionic" powers afforded to other Mutant psychics like Jean Grey, The White Queen and Psylocke (with preferential variations like "psionic arrows"), she's had a few names and identities throughout her publication history -- at one point leaving the New Mutants in order to become one of Asgard's Valkyrie warrior women.
WOLFSBANE: a.k.a. Rahne Sinclair. Essentially a Scottish werewolf but through mutation rather than a supernatural curse (though she originally didn't know that and suffered abuse at the hands of a fanatically religious orphanage proprietor over it), she can morph into a bipedal human/wolf hybrid with superhuman strength.
If in fact this run of images does reflect studio plans for The New Mutants, the film appears to set to feature an admirably diverse team of fan-favorite heroes and heroines -- many of them with ties to the lengthy history of the X-Men mythos.
These new rumors fall comfortably in line with earlier reports, which had also mentioned Storm (presumably the new post-Apocalypse continuity incarnation) and Professor Xavier himself as characters for the film. Interestingly left unsaid is whether or not the team might also include Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who appeared alongside Colossus in Deadpool and was revealed to be wearing a New Mutants uniform under her street clothes.
X-Men: Apocalypse will see theatrical release in the U.S. on May 27, 2016, followed by Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017, and unannounced X-Men films on October 6, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.