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Seventeen years after Iceman's iconic "coming out" speech in X2, a queer romance will finally be front and center in the upcoming film, The New Mutants, making it a rare comic-based movie to feature LGBTQ leads.
The soon-to-be-released horror thriller — which has been on a long and twisty journey towards the big screen — revolves around five teenage mutants who are brought to a secret institution to undergo treatment with the promise that they'll be cured of their powers. However, as they begin to get to know each other and learn that they're mutants, their memories turn into terrifying realities and lead them to question whether the institution itself is what it seems.
The two mutants who will have the romantic connection in question are Danielle "Dani" Moonstar (The Originals' Blu Hunt) and Rahne Sinclaire (Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams), otherwise known as "Mirage" and "Wolfsbane" in the comics — a fact confirmed by a recent press conference with the cast and director Josh Boone (The Stand), which SYFY WIRE attended last week.
"We met two or three months before we shot the film and I'd done a couple of screen tests before, but this was the first time I had to kiss a stranger," said Williams of her first interactions with Hunt, also noting that this had taken place pre-COVID. "That's always a nerve-wracking experience."
Boone elaborated on the scene the pair had to perform during their screen test. "I had them lay down on the floor together, just like as if they were looking up at the stars like they are in the movie ... So we did really act that scene out the way we did when we shot it."
Hunt was also nervous about the experience, but felt like she got the part as soon as she did that scene with Williams. "I think I knew I got the part as soon as we kissed, you know,” said the actress. “I was like, 'That was real.'”
During a one-on-one Zoom call with SYFY WIRE, Hunt elaborated on the relationship and its cultural significance, saying:
"I think you can see it when you watch the opening of the film. The first person Dani Moonstar literally sees when she wakes up is Rahne. They immediately are drawn to each other. From the first time they are in a room together, they’re drawn to each other and I think it’s quite apparent immediately that they like each other as more than friends. But it’s never addressed, it happens extremely organically, and I like that. They don’t necessarily have to come out to each other, they don’t have to come out to the rest of the group. No one ever questions or judges them; it’s just what’s happening. And I think if we portray those kinds of relationships that way, they’ll become more normalized in the real world."
For his part, Boone is excited for fans to actually see the pair's romance unfold on screen.
"People ask me what are you excited to see, and yes, [there's] all the cool visual effects and the big fights at the end and all that," said the director. "But just seeing these two girls under the dome looking up is really cool to see in a movie. So I'm just excited to see it as much as the action."
While this isn't the first time a queer relationship between two teenage girls has been depicted in a superhero movie recently — Deadpool 2 introduced Negasonic Teenage Warhead's (Brianna Hildebrand) girlfriend Yukio (Shiori Kutsuna), and featured the pair in a relationship — it is the first time two lead characters in a comic book film will get to meet and have a romance like this, which is a far cry from the recent attempts at LGBTQ representation featured in recent blockbusters. Marvel's Avengers: Endgame saw Joe Russo (one of the directors) play an openly gay man in Steve Rogers' support group who briefly mentioned going on a date with another man, while Thor: Ragnarok was forced to downplay Valkyrie's (Tessa Thompson) bisexuality, relegating any confirmation of it to a scrapped scene.
However, it looks like things might be changing in the MCU going forward, as not only has Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige himself confirmed that Valkyrie will have an LGBTQ storyline in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, but The Eternals, another eventual MCU film, will feature an openly gay couple among its team of heroes, with the movie also depicting a same-sex kiss between them, a first for any Marvel movie.
Disney's The New Mutants is one of the first new movies to arrive in theaters as they begin to reopen again, after having shut down due to the current global coronavirus pandemic that has caused several productions to shutter filming due to health concerns among cast and crew, and made Marvel revamp its entire release schedule.
The New Mutants will (finally) make its way to theaters Aug. 28.
Additional reporting by Josh Weiss