Anya Taylor-Joy has been making noise around Hollywood for some time now. From her feature film debut as Thomasin in Robert Eggers’ creepy The Witch up to her star-turning performance in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, Taylor-Joy’s star has been on the rise. One film on her resume has also been remarkably climbing the charts. The New Mutants, even with all its production troubles, finds itself sitting in the #5 position on Amazon Prime around the world.
The New Mutants was billed as a superhero horror movie and it kind of lived up to that advertising. The story revolves around a group of teenage mutants who are being held in a secret facility and end up having to fight for their lives. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Illyana Rasputin, a Russian mutant who goes by the name of Magik because of the sorcery powers she exhibits. She has the ability to travel via teleportation discs and she can also manifest the Soulsword, a blade that was simple at first but more intricate in design the more she uses it. The sword has the ability to disrupt users of magic as well as creatures. Illyana also has a purple dragon, Lockheed, at her beck and call.
Along with Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik, The New Mutants also starred Maisie Williams as Wolfsbane, Blu Hunt as Dani Moonstar/Mirage, Charlie Heaton as Cannonball, and Henry Zaga as Bobby da Costa/Sunspot. Alice Braga was also on board as Dr. Cecilia Reyes.
When we first meet our captive teenage mutants, it is under the guise that they are being trained to be part of the X-Men, which is why Reyes has them under strict supervision. Reyes appears to be a comforting source to the teenagers but offers warnings to not leave the facility until they have mastered their abilities because the world considers them dangerous. The group begins to have horrible visions of the danger they inflicted, causing both Reyes and Illayna to conclude that Dani’s powers are the source of the visions. When Reyes returns that information to her employer, the Essex Corporation, she is told to collect Dani’s DNA and then euthanize her.
As all hell begins to break loose at the facility, the group of five comes to realize that instead of being trained to be X-Man, they are in fact being trained to become assassins for Essex. The reason they have been unable to escape the facility is that Reyes has mutant powers of her own and she’s been using force fields to keep them contained. The only way for the New Mutants to escape is to take out Reyes and Demon Bear, a powerful manifestation of Dani’s fears.
The troubled history surrounding the production of The New Mutants is fairly well-known. Principal photography on the film began in July 2017, making it nearly three years once the film was finally released. Many factors went into the lengthy delays, most of it relating to director Josh Boone’s initial desire to create a superhero movie with a heavy dose of horror. His first edit of the film pleased those at 20th Century Fox and from their viewing of the movie, they planned on a few days of additional shooting. But when Stephen King’s It hit the movie theaters, the studio then decided to cut their trailer to look more like a straight-up horror film. Fans ate it up, which caused Fox to tell Boone to go back and make the film more like his original version.
Time went on and the scheduled reshoots never materialized, so Anya Taylor-Joy and the other actors were never brought back to shoot anything else. Premiere dates for the movie were constantly pushed back. Disney then bought Fox, which added to the delays. When the dust settled and it looked like the reshoots could happen, trying to get the actors together was becoming more and more difficult with their busy schedules. On top of that, so much time had passed that the actors had noticeably aged. So, the reshoots never commenced. Josh Boone told EW, “Everybody said we did reshoots! We’ve never done reshoots,” he said. “And I’ll tell you this: if there hadn’t been a merger, I’m sure we would’ve done reshoots the same way every movie does pickups. We didn’t even do that because by the time the merger was done and everything was settled, everybody’s older.”
After numerous delays, The New Mutants finally debuted on August 28, 2020, and the Anya Taylor-Joy movie landed smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. With a budget ranging between $68-80 million, it brought in a disappointing $47 million. The movie immediately fell flat with critics and fans alike, prompting New Mutants co-creator Bob McLeod to rip the filmmaker’s numerous times, though initially, he was quite excited about the film’s possibilities. “I was very excited when I heard they were making a New Mutants movie,” he said via Variety. “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 then he went on to blast the decision-makers from how the character’s appearances changed from the comics adding, “Mainly I was very disappointed that Roberto isn’t short and dark-skinned,” McLeod said. “Yet another example of Hollywood white-washing. There’s just no excuse.” He was also quite upset that in the credits, his name was incorrectly spelled.
As for Anya Taylor-Joy, this seemingly blip on her resume has not put a dent in her career. After her feature film debut with The Witch, Taylor-Joy has gone on to bigger and better things. She starred in the TV series Atlantis before taking on the role of Casey Cooke in the second part of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy Split. Anya Taylor-Joy would reprise that role in the third film, Glass.
Beyond those two films, Anya Taylor-Joy has enjoyed success in the features Thoroughbreds, Marrowbone, Emma, and Here Are the Young Men. But it was her role as Beth Harmon in the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit that truly opened eyes to her talent. For that role, Anya Taylor-Joy took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. Up next for Taylor-Joy is Last Night in Soho as well as The Northman. She is also slated to play a young Furiosa in the movie of the same name, a prequel to George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.