This article contains New Mutants spoilers.
The New Mutants, now available to watch on streaming, is the final outing in Fox’s eclectic X-Men film franchise. While Marvel Studios’ finally confirmed Deadpool 3 is a wild card in how it connects to anything, that’s in Disney’s hands now. Otherwise, we have 13 movies in 20 years celebrating superpowers as a metaphor for real-life prejudice. But only in the end, did the X-Men franchise really start to open up to a universe where mutants aren’t the explanation to everything outlandish.
One of the reasons the Avengers movies worked out so well was the contrast. It was a tech super-genius, a super-soldier from another era, a science-based anger monster, a Norse god, and two hyper-competent humans teaming up against an alien invasion. This felt fresh and right for a comic book universe. For X-Men, they didn’t embrace such an idea until it was too late.
Being from the Marvel comic universe, X-Men has always shared continuity with otherworldly concepts from other walks of life. And while the movies didn’t include connections to the larger Marvel Universe, even the X-Men properties themselves eventually strayed off from the mutant gene.
Think back to X-Men: The Last Stand. The movie introduced two major parts of X-lore in the form of the Juggernaut and the Phoenix. In the comics, Juggernaut is powered by a demigod bent on destruction and his connection to everything X-Men comes from his relationship with his stepbrother Charles Xavier. Understandably, they didn’t want to delve too far into that for a supporting villain and made zero mention of any relationship with Xavier, all while explicitly showing that in this world, Juggernaut’s strength was based on the mutant gene.
As for Phoenix, despite being one of the most defining X-Men storylines, the force was revealed not to be a cosmic being from beyond the stars, but an overpowered and uncontrollable part of Jean Grey’s psyche. It is depicted as the worst-case scenario for someone having mutant abilities.
Even the super-science of the X-Men movies was almost explicitly about mutants. A psychic hub to track down mutants. A cure for mutant abilities. Shoving multiple mutant powers into a single human test subject. Time travel by using mutant mind powers. Robots programmed to exterminate mutants and counter their powers.
Gradually, they started to branch out. Wolverine fought a samurai mech. Deadpool showed that excessive physical abuse could awaken powers in non-mutants if done right. Cable used time travel in a way that wasn’t directly linked to a mutant’s abilities. In Logan, Donald Pierce is a cyborg. Even though X-Men: Apocalypse once again reveals the Phoenix as an extension of Jean’s psychic powers, Dark Phoenix goes against it by adding its cosmic origins and throwing in a bunch of aliens as the antagonists.
Who is Magik and what are her powers?
That brings us to New Mutants and the character of Illyana Rasputin, otherwise known as Magik. Unlike the other four main characters, Magik existed before New Mutants was a thing in the comics. Dating back to Colossus’ first appearance in 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1, Illyana was just a side character with the focus on her chrome-plated older brother. Being that she was only a little girl, they decided to dramatically age her up in order to make her a believable hero type.
Seven years after her debut, Illyana was involved in a storyline where the villain Belacaso pulled her into Limbo (not-quite-Hell, but kinda). A moment later, Kitty Pryde pulled her back to Earth, but Magik came out of it as a teenager. A later miniseries explained what she was up to in-between those instances, where time moved differently and she spent several years training in combat and magic.
Magik then joined the New Mutants as it turns out, she does have a mutant power based on teleportation. It’s just that, at least back in the early days, she would have to go to Limbo before choosing where else. So she could get you to the Grand Canyon if you want, but there’s a quick stop in an otherworldly hellscape first.
This situation would lead to Inferno, the New Mutants’ big event that was going to be the basis for one of the film sequels had New Mutants caught on and not have been released among a gigantic film industry quagmire and global pandemic.
What’s up with Lockheed?
The movie was fairly accurate on its portrayal of Magik, but what of that weird dragon puppet stuff going on? That would be Lockheed, another one of the non-mutant aspects of classic X-Men comics. Lockheed is more linked to Kitty Pryde than even Magik, but Illyana does have ties to his origin. Sort of.
Back before Illyana took her trip to Limbo and lost her innocence, Kitty was trying to get her to sleep by telling her a bedtime story. It ended up being a medieval fantasy where the characters were mapped out as members of the X-Men (this was adapted into an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series, but it’s told by Jubilee and mainly remembered for its rough animation). Since the team wasn’t going to have a state-of-the-art sci-fi jet in this setting, Kitty came up with Lockheed, a large dragon that they would fly around on.
A few months after Magik’s return from Limbo, the X-Men were stuck in a space story where they fought Xenomorph knockoffs the Brood while teaming up with Carol Danvers (who had a really, really nasty split from the Avengers prior). During that adventure, Kitty was rescued by a random dragon.
A dream, can be a dream come true!
With just that spark… in me and you!
The dragon – which Kitty named “Lockheed” because of her bedtime story – ended up following her back to Earth. They were only a few years before such a thing bit Spider-Man in the ass, so everyone was okay with Kitty having her own pet dragon from outer space.
Later comics revealed Lockheed to be far more competent and intelligent than anyone realized, to the point that he was an undercover agent of SWORD (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) like a character out of Men in Black. And he can talk, but chooses not to do that when anyone’s in the room.
Lockheed has indeed palled around with Magik in the comics, but he’s more of a sidekick to Kitty. Considering they did a whole five-season animated series without even mentioning Kitty (despite the previous attempt at an X-Men cartoon, Pryde of the X-Men, literally being named after her) there was no problem in cutting out the middle woman.
While the New Mutants movie suggested something supernatural was going on with all the Pennywise-like horror situations haunting everyone, the whole thing ended up just being Dani Moonstar’s psychic powers manifesting and going out of control. The double-twist in all of this is that after all this time, the X-Men film franchise had fully embraced stepping outside the box by going full ham on Magik’s character.
Teleports to Limbo on the reg? Check. Her dragon puppet can manifest into a literal purple dragon? Check. Has some kind of mystic sword? Check. Yes, she’s a mutant, but that doesn’t mean she’s not magical.
Ah, well. Too little, too late.