It is not exactly the best time to be Josh Boone right now.
The director is under fire for controversial comments he made over the casting of actor Henry Zaga to portray the X-Men character Sunspot, who has traditionally been written as Afro-Latinx, in his film The New Mutants. These comments are particularly damaging due to Sunspot’s characterization in the original New Mutants publication, where his powers were awakened after a hate crime committed by soccer rivals.
In an interview with io9, Boone stated the following:
“I didn’t care so much about the racism I’ve heard about in Brazil, about light-skinned versus dark-skinned. To me, it was I wanted to represent Brazil in a positive way and I wanted to find somebody who seems like he could look like a guy who’s had the silver spoon in his mouth, who has like a really rich dad and [Henry] just exemplified all these things.”
Boone’s interview comes days after The AV Club revealed that Disney had not sent out screener links to critics and journalists. This resulted in the publication boycotting the film out of concern for their employees contracting COVID-19. They were later joined by other outlets, such as IndieWire and Roger Ebert, in their boycott.
Unfortunately, Zaga is not the only actor out of The New Mutants to be criticized for their casting. Fellow Brazilian actress Alice Braga was cast as the force-field-projecting mutant Cecilia Reyes, another character frequently depicted as Afro-Latinx.
No further statements regarding Boone’s comments, nor Disney’s screener decisions have been released. The New Mutants opens in theaters this Friday, August 28th after a two-year delay.