While comic book movies have the tendency to showcase superpowers as exciting and cool, Josh Boone’s The New Mutants takes a bit of a different tactic in telling its story. This is a movie featuring a bunch of teens who not only possess very dangerous gifts, but have also proven ineffectual in harnessing them, resulting in deaths. Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball is a perfect example of this, as losing control for him means generating energy from his legs and rocketing around uncontrollably – which is why it makes all the sense in the world that the film’s writer/director found himself referencing one of the great Masters of Horror in the development of the character.
Specifically, if you watch Charlie Heaton's performance in the movie and get hints of Charlie from Firestarter and Carrie from Carrie from the works of Stephen King, you should know that’s not an accident.
Last week, Josh Boone and I had a chance to bond via a video interview over our shared loves of both Marvel and Stephen King, and the subjects merged in an excellent way when the topic of conversation turned to The New Mutants’ depiction of Cannonball. You can watch the segment of our discussion by clicking play on the video below.
All of the members of the titular team in New Mutants are dangerous, but Sam Guthrie is a particularly special case given that his particular “gift” involves, explosive power, speed, and range. He essentially turns into a human rocket, decimating everything that gets in his very-undefined path, and while he himself is invulnerable while shooting around at high velocity, he can get very hurt when he’s trying to stop.
Not having the ability to manage his mutant abilities leads Sam to be afraid of what he can do, and helping absolutely nothing are the memories he has of the destruction that he’s done in the past. Said Josh Boone,
We just wanted him to be somebody who punished himself and we wanted him to be somebody that couldn't quite land, had broken his arm and broken a bunch of bones in his body, isn't quite good with his powers. If he's flying up without a chain on them, there's a chance he'll die. We just wanted it to be actually scary the way powers are in like Carrie or Firestarter.
For those unfamiliar with the Stephen King books, both feature young characters who are to an extent victims of their own natural abilities. Carrie from Carrie (as previously portrayed in movies by Sissy Spacek and Chloe Moretz), can move objects with her mind and sees her powers slowly emerge following years of horrible abuse both at home and at school. Charlie in Firestarter (who is played by Drew Barrymore in the 1984 adaptation) has pyrokinesis and carries incredible guilt for accidents in the past.
Continuing, Josh Boone explained that he used these books as reference points to access the mentality of Sam Guthrie and provide him with a certain perspective:
I guess when I say my Stephen King reference, I really mean in regards to how he treats what are called superhero powers in comic books, those are the things that to me would be much more horrific and much more paralyzing and terrifying than it would be cool. So we wanted him to just be somebody who was an embodiment of the sin he'd committed in the past accidentally.
The details of what happened to Sam Guthrie and the trauma he experienced prior to being hospitalized are being kept a secret for now, but it won’t be too much longer until audiences can find out by seeing The New Mutants in theaters.
If you want to watch my full interview with Josh Boone, head over to the CinemaBlend YouTube channel and check it out.
Co-starring Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, and Alice Braga in addition to Charlie Heaton, The New Mutants – after several delays – is finally hitting theaters were possible this weekend. If you can check it out safely, do so, and then be sure to head back to CinemaBlend for more of our coverage of this long-awaited movie.