Between the filming of The New Mutants and its expected release date this year, the big-screen X-Men universe has gone through a huge transformation. Not only did the Marvel characters move studios from Fox to Disney, but the approach to the material shifted during its shooting due to the success of Deadpool and Logan, as well as criticism of the central X-Men franchise at the time, and this included the addition of Storm.
When The New Mutants director and co-writer Josh Boone was working on the movie about teen mutants, it was originally going to have a number of cool connections to the X-Men franchise... that is, until X-Men: Apocalypse came out. The 2016 blockbuster not only disappointed fans, but apparently the studio too, and changes were requested to distance New Mutants from the other movies. Boone told Slashfilm the following:
Originally, Professor X and Storm were in it, and Storm very much played the Alice Braga role. Over the course of months, a new studio head came in, they said they didn’t want any X-Men movies to take place in the past anymore, as if that was the reason that Apocalypse was bad. [laughs] So we were put in the position where we kind of rewrote it to be set now in a nebulous [point in time], because nobody knew how the movies had turned out. Dark Phoenix wasn’t out yet. Yeah, it’s there – they talk about Professor X and those things, but it doesn’t have cameos from anyone or anything like that.
According to the filmmaker, Storm was not only in an earlier draft of The New Mutants, she also played a central role in the movie. Ororo Munroe would have filled the role of Alice Braga’s Dr. Cecilia Reyes in the final cut. In the movie, Dr. Reyes is the doctor and mentor to the team of mutants who find themselves institutionalized for their abilities.
The vision of Storm for The New Mutants would have likely been the Alexandra Shipp version seen in X-Men: Apocalypse because the movie was originally written to take place in the ‘80s. The role could have expanded the actress’ part in the X-Men universe by exploring her comic book roots as the mentor to the New Mutants. When Apocalypse received the cold shoulder, the studio wanted the film to be able to stand on its own.
Another character in the running to show up was James McAvoy’s Professor X, who apparently will be referenced in the movie, but won't be seen. Warlock was also part of the script before the filmmakers realized the addition of the character would be too expensive for the production. Now that the movie is coming out in 2020, in a world where Dark Phoenix left fans completely sour for Fox’s X-Men franchise, it’s probably better off without too many ties to the old universe.