Pitchmas 2020, Part 1: New Mutants

Next year, presuming I do this again, I’ll start earlier, so Pitchmas can at least start in the right year.

I like a challenge, so I’m biting off more than I can likely chew, here. It’s going to be 12 Marvel Series for Disney+. I’m going to give myself some leeway, I can spin a show out of the existing movies, shows, or one of last year’s pitches. What I can’t do is just say, Movie: The Series, or recreate a show that already existed on another platform (so no Daredevil, Defenders, etc.). Rules clear to everyone? I don’t care. Because they’re my rules, and if I decide I want to break them later, none of you can stop me. At least not without hacking my site and spoiling all the fun for everyone (Note: please don’t do that.)

Paradoxically, this might actually be a simpler assignment, since pitching a season of a TV show doesn’t actually mean plotting the whole monster out, necessarily, but instead involves a concept for the first few episodes.

New Mutants

Note: I have not seen the “New Mutants” movie, and this is not that, and not based on the same concept; I also really don’t expect that to remain cannon.

I want this to be where all of the “New Mutants” start out. So any time Marvel wants a fresh team of X-Men recruits, they logically come through here. Probably what this means is it starts off with a team composed of a B-list of legacy mutants- say the X-Factor squad of Polaris, Havok, characters like that, running the Xavier Institute’s educational wing while Scott and the original team (plus whoever else makes sense) run around saving the mutant race. Apparently the first decade of characters were thin, but I’d suggest bringing in Morph/Changeling, because he can be a lot of fun and the group could use a cut-up. Mimic’s both overpowered and kind of bland, but fun things can be done with him, if we’re clever. I’d fill out the rest of the team with whoever isn’t being used immediately in the X-Men movies from the Giant Size X-Men team, with an eye towards diversity as much as possible, so I’d snap up Thunderbird and Sunfire first, then Nightcrawler, Storm, Banshee… the teachers would sort of rotate in a Hogwarts sort of fashion, where a teacher would be teaching the students a specific lesson or ideal, then rotate out, so potentially there’s room for some of the marquee characters to do a special episode here and there, too.

The students would be the first round of New Mutants, those who eventually mostly went on to be X-Force, because this show could literally spin out a dozen X-Men teams over as many seasons. For the record that class was: Cannonball, Mirage, Magma, Karma, Sunspot, Magik, Cypher, & Wolfsbane. I’d probably throw in Kitty Pryde, too, because she’s too good a character to let slip through the cracks- which between her and his sister Magik probably means Colossus is a lock for a turn as a teacher; I’d especially like an episode post-Inferno where he teaches a painting class, trying to help them all through the nightmare they’ve been through- as the students go from hating the class to realizing they need to find their own outlets.  

Because I’m spinning this out of last year’s X-Men pitch, I’m assuming we go with some version of that origin- the mutants cross over from a similar universe, and are part of a refugee crisis. So the school also works as a refugee resettlement program, as well.

The first season, weirdly, would probably focus on as much bizarreness as possible, because by the end I’d do a version of Inferno as well as an origin for Warlock, which is probably where I’d start. It’s a starry night. Shooting stars flash overhead. Suddenly a ship, bright red from entry into the atmosphere, burns past camera. It’s followed by two sci-fi fighter jets emblazoned with the logo of SWORD. They fire on the ship, and believe they’ve destroyed it. We cut to the wreckage of the alien ship, in a wooded area, and see a techno-organic (think sentient, shape-shifting robot) hand move before we cut away.

Several students are sneaking out of the Xavier Institute to go to a club. Some of them are clearly more excited than others, others have been peer-pressured, you get the idea. As they hop the fence, one of them laments that they couldn’t invite Kitty. Another mentions that she’s too much of a teacher’s pet. One of them snickers, and says, “Kitty’s a pet.” We cut back to the Mansion, Kitty discovering their beds are empty.

We cut back out to the gate, as a car picks them up. As it’s driving away, Kitty phases inside, landing on someone’s lap. They don’t get far, before the car hits someone. The driver is freaked out, and tries to flee. The kids demand he let them out, and they go back to see what they hit.

It’s Warlock, a frightened little shape-shifting alien; think ET meets Transformers. He doesn’t speak any language they can decipher, but Kitty, the student who’s been there the longest, knows about a recruit with a talent for languages: Cypher. He’s able to communicate enough with Warlock to get the gist- he ran from a world where son is expected to kill his father (or vice versa); he wanted no part in the generational murder-spree. They agree to help him, or at least get him someplace safe, since he can’t go home again. The camera pans back up towards the stars.

Another ship flies past, burning red from the atmosphere. Another pair of SWORD jets chase this one, too. Only this jet transforms in mid-air, suddenly facing them with cannons nearly as big as it is, and fires two energy blasts, knocking the fighters out of the sky. The alien craft then goes back to flying, before landing at the edge of an airfield. Turns out, it’s a military airfield. An MP in a truck drives over to it, mumbling about jerks landing their drones on the base because they think it’s funny. The ship transforms into a humanoid like Warlock, but much more brutal and militant-looking, and larger. It shifts again, into a carbon copy of the MP. “What the hell?“ he asks, before the Magus (Warlock’s father), touches a finger to his head, loosing a blinding white light that blots out the screen. As the light fades, we see that the soldier has been reduced to a small pile of ashes that blows away in the wind.

The next morning, Cypher asks Warlock whether or not he can hide. The concept confuses him. “Blend in.” Warlock turns his head quizzically, before shifting into a facsimile of Doug, who jumps. “Um, not me,” he says. “Humans are unique. So you have to look… different.” Warlock’s POV, as he scans every person in the dormitory, glowing boxes over features, then we cut to stock news footage as he flips through the channels, web pages, all manner of information, speeding by at an accelerated rate until we see he’s become human. Back outside his POV, he’s become an attractive person of color. “Now we just have to come up with a name for you.”

Cut away while this dialog is going, and we see the pair of them in thermal vision; Warlock isn’t cold, but he doesn’t heat up the way a human does, either, and there’s some kind of a ping drawing attention to him (or her, casting depending). The visualization shifts to a normal camera from a drone flying overhead, except the drone pauses in midair, and transforms into the Magus, landing with an impact in the lawn. He looks up, and sees the power line for the school, and enters it in a quasi-liquid form.

We cut back inside the school, specifically inside the Danger Room. This is going to be a more classical approach to it, more a gymnasium, but with robots and buzz-saws on extending arms and lasers. Havok is giving them an introduction to the Danger Room, and explains it’s just a chance for them to show what they can do now. They should be careful, for themselves and their fellow students, because the safety protocols are set to new students, so the only potential harm will come from one another. Havok signals Multiple Man up in the control room to start, and he puts in his password and initiates the program. On the monitor on the console, we see a digitized version of Magus, before the console electrocutes Madrox- the attack having the effect of creating a duplicate of him that stands over the first version. He snaps his fingers to create a third, and they bicker over the proper aid response; one wants to rush in and check his vitals, while the other is concerned that if there’s an environmental hazard they could join him on the floor. “Stop being such a weenie; we literally have extra lives,” the one says, and drags the groaning original away from the console.

Cut to the inside of the Danger Room. The training session begins as normal. One by one, the students take turns walking through the room, displaying their powers and prowess. And then we get to Warlock. Havok’s confused because he doesn’t know them, but Cypher says that Warlock’s new. Before Havok can protest, the Danger Room become far, far angrier, attacking with lethal force. Havok gathers the kids behind him, and tells Kitty to stop the machine; she phases through the wall, runs through one of Multiple Man’s dupes running in the opposite direction. Warlock, with his shifting, holds his own for a bit as the Danger Room becomes infected with the Techno-Organic (or Transmode) virus that gives Warlock his shape-shifting, making it increasingly more dangerous. The New Mutants, as a team, are holding it off as best they can, but the zone they control is decreasing, the threats encroaching. Time is running out… and then the machines stop.

We cut to the control room, where Kitty is standing with her arm phased through the computer. Cut to later, panning over an army of Multiple Men who have taken apart the Danger Room computers. The original, still showing signs of injury from the electrocution, is talking to Havok. “I don’t know. We’re kind of in ‘Thousand Monkeys with a Keyboard’ territory. There’s enough of me to crawl through the code and recognize there’s things here there shouldn’t be. But I don’t speak nerd enough to know what. Until we can get Beast or Forge or another computer dork to look at it, all I can say is something that wasn’t supposed to happen did.”

“Self-help,” Warlock says, and touches the console. He flashes imagery, including the Magus’ face, and stumbles back, saying, “Magus.” Warlock tries to run. The New Mutants subdue him before he makes it over the fence. A panicking Warlock tries to explain that it isn’t safe for him to stay, that he’s putting them all in danger, that the Magus came for him. Kitty corrects him- that the Magus came for all of them, and there’s no way they’re letting him face that kind of threat alone. There’s a moment, where we don’t know if the rest will join Kitty’s sentiment, since up to this point they’ve been stand-offish with her; but this is the moment they really accept her, and that’s the note we end the first episode on.

I think from there the Magus uses the MP identity he absorbed to gather military power, essentially creating a conspiracy about a mutant insurrection that will need to be put down with military might, leading to the base he landed on invading the school. So this arc would take up the front half of the season, essentially being a movie paced out to be 4-5 episodes. Along the way, the teachers grow more suspicious about Warlock, and as some of them start to twig what he is, have mixed feelings about taking on a non-mutant refugee that puts mutants in harm’s way. Warlock ultimately wins them over by repeatedly putting himself in harm’s way for the students- he earns his place among them even to the most skeptical of eyes. Ends in a pretty spectacular New Mutants vs military scene; the military are taken apart with kid gloves, at which point the Magus reveals himself and attacks. At first the military are perplexed, not understanding what’s going on, before one of their commanders realizes they’ve been duped and join the fray on the side of the mutants (or, perhaps more simply, realizes this is an attack on US soil, and at least some of the students are American).   

The back half of the season would probably be a take on Inferno, so the first half we’d be seeding that Magik’s teleporting takes her through an infernal dimension, one where she feels safe, one where she feels like she can do anything. Originally, she thought the dimension was metaphorical- that it was the encapsulation of her inner demons. It’s only been working with Professor Xavier (who has training at least as a counselor, if not a full-on psychiatrist) that she discovered the truth- it’s a real place. The Magus hitches a ride with her at one point, probably taking the place of her phone or her music player. Once there, he foments a rebellion amongst the local populace as a way of attacking the team, to weaken them, to open up his path to Warlock.

Since this is a show, we’d probably opt for something lower-key than a demonic romp down Main Street. So I’d go for something subtler, even horror-focused. As the demons are able to sneak out with help from the Magus, until the school reaches a critical mass. Then it becomes psychological horror for our leads, as they’re all forced to deal with their own inner demons, fears, and regrets. What they realize, however, is that the stakes are very real- if the team can’t come together and save Magik, her Inferno is going to use her as a portal to open up in the middle of New York, and from there, likely destroy the world. Magik, at the conclusion, is able to teleport the Magus back to his homeworld; as part of his defeat, Warlock takes over his body and forces him to de-age back to a baby. He explains that doesn’t end his threat, but delays it until the Magus grows back into an adult.

Season 2 would bring in Rogue, presumably fresh from gaining an interesting power set/mental health problems off of Captain Marvel, and at least some new faces. I think, as the show went on, characters would change, grow, some would leave, some would graduate to other teams, decide their real passion was in activism away from the Institute, or become teachers in subsequent seasons. We’d also be filling out the rest of the X-Force roster with Rictor, Boom-Boom, maybe Warpath and Shatterstar. I think that season would also bring in Mystique, Emma Frost and the Hellions as a counter-weight, with the New Mutants mounting a rescue attempt to save what remained of the Hellions after a failed mission, leading directly into…

Season 3: Emma Frost and Banshee bring in a new class of recruits, Gen X! That means Jubilee, Skin, Synch, Husk, Chamber, M. I’d probably do a version of the Phalanx Covenant.

Season 4: Excalibur?

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