Not only is “The New Mutants” the final piece to the Fox/‘X-Men’ universe puzzle (mainly because of its two-year delay), but the film also marks one of the most diverse and inclusive films in the 20-year-old Marvel franchise, with its LGBTQ+ themes and multi-racial cast. Obviously, that’s something that director Josh Boone wanted to emphasize in his film. But in a recent interview with io9, the director has made some unfortunate statements in response to some casting criticisms. In addition, Boone has also taken the time out to lob disapproval at a recent blockbuster feature, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” about its LGBTQ+ moment.
Let’s tackle the ‘Rise of Skywalker’ comment, first. Boone was speaking to TooFab recently about “The New Mutants” and its inclusion of a romantic subplot between two of the female characters. And in discussing the representation in his film, he took the time to criticize Lucasfilm’s most recent “Star Wars” feature.
He began by calling the lesbian kiss between two nameless characters in the film “the most embarrassing” example of queer representation. He added, “It was just somebody in the background and [the filmmakers] were like, ‘We’ll put out articles as if this is something you should pay attention to.’”
Of course, he’s not the first to comment on the scene in the film, which was hyped up before ‘Rise of Skywalker’ was released. The moment is a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” scene that many thought was thrown in as a token gesture with no real meaning.
But when it comes to diversity in the cast, Boone has come under fire due to his comments about why he cast actor Henry Zaga as Brazilian hero, Sunspot.” In the comics, Sunspot is shown to be Brazilian but portrayed with dark skin. And Zaga, though a fine actor, is much more light-skinned and many see that as an example of colorism, where people are discriminated against because of their skin tone. Boone doesn’t fight back against those claims but does defend the casting.
“You won’t have any argument from me,” he said. “It’s like my thing was my goal was to cast a real Brazilian and I saw 300 of myself black, brown, lighter-skinned. I saw every shade of the sun.”
He added, “My goal was to find the best actor who, because they’ve done so little work, was at least the closest to kind of what I saw in my head for the character. There was nobody who hold a candle to Henry. It’s like maybe if Henry didn’t exist, I would have found somebody who was darker skinned who exemplified what I needed. But it was never about the color of their skin for me.”
When pressed about the anti-Black racism that is prevelant in Brazil, Boone said, “I didn’t care so much about the racism I’ve heard about in Brazil, about light-skinned versus dark-skinned. To me, it was I wanted to represent Brazil in a positive way and I wanted to find somebody who seems like he could look like a guy who’s had the silver spoon in his mouth, who has like a really rich dad and [Henry] just exemplified all these things.”
Obviously, this response isn’t the ideal way to defend against colorism claims, but Boone does his best to explain why Zaga was cast in a role that people have been concerned about since the news was announced years ago. We’ll just have to see if Zaga’s portrayal of the character is enough to win over fans when “The New Mutants” arrives in theaters Friday.