This weekend, after a three-year wait, fans willing to brave movie theaters amid a global pandemic finally have the opportunity to see The New Mutants, the frequently delayed film from director Josh Boone that marks the first big-screen depiction of the title superteam. While many fans are no doubt happy to simply have the option to see the film at long last, at least one key person involved in the team’s creation was not super-impressed with how it turned out: New Mutants co-creator Bob McLeod.
In a public post on his Facebook page Friday, McLeod — who drew the first incarnation of the team in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 back in 1982, and went on to draw the first issues of the first New Mutants ongoing comic series — revealed his thoughts on the depiction of the characters he first brought to life more than 30 years ago. While he praised some members of the cast, including Blu Hunt and Charlie Heaton, McLeod noted several ways in which the look of the characters bothered him.
“I thought making it into a horror movie was perhaps an interesting idea, but not at all how the characters should be introduced to the public at large. But, hey, my characters in a movie! I never would have thought that would actually happen,” McLeod explained. “But then, I was disappointed when they didn’t give Dani braids, although I like Blu Hunt. I was disappointed when Rahne wasn’t a redhead with spiky hair, although I adore Maisie Williams. I was disappointed that Sam isn’t tall and gawky, although I do like Charlie Heaton.”
McLeod also added his voice to what’s become a common criticism of the film in the lead-up to its release: the casting of Roberto DaCosta, aka Sunspot, as a light-skinned character, rather than the dark-skinned Afro-Brazilian person he’s depicted as in the comics. It’s a been a criticism ever since Henry Zaga was announced as the actor playing DaCosta in the film, and Boone himself has been called out on it in recent interviews. McLeod himself dismissed the casting as “yet another example of Hollywood white-washing” and called out Boone directly in his post for the overall treatment of his characters. He also went on to note that his name is misspelled in the credits.
“So basically, #JoshBoone erased everything I contributed to the way the characters look. And now, the movie has come out at last, and apparently they’ve credited someone named Bob Macleod as co-creator,” McLeod wrote. “They couldn’t even be bothered to check the spelling of my name sometime in the last three years. And that can’t be fixed. That will be on the movie forever. I think I’m done with this movie.”
In terms of McLeod’s influence over the film, Boone and company have always been open about the fact that The New Mutants movie is much more heavily influenced by the later Bill Sienkiewicz era of the series, particularly the famous “Demon Bear Saga,” so visually it obviously owes more to Sienkiewicz than it does to McLeod. Still, the concerns over Bobby’s appearance in particular are worth noting, as is the misspelling of McLeod’s name. Hopefully the at-home release can at least correct that grievous error.
McLeod’s criticism of the film comes after what’s been a rough week for The New Mutants in general. In addition to opening during a pandemic, at a time when many experts are still calling movie theaters dangerous, it’s faced resistance from media outlets that have decided not to review the film due to the health risks, and the reviews that have come out have been less than glowing. Here’s hoping the film will get a home release soon, so more people can safely see and discuss it, criticisms and all.