If Karma Isn’t In The NEW MUTANTS Film, It’s Very Bad Karma For The X-MEN Universe

***UPDATED: It now appears that the twice-postponed NEW MUTANTS film is till in Limbo (so to speak) pending unscheduled reshoots, as per Screen Rant.***

Is it too much to demand that Karma be in the NEW MUTANTS film? Early script reports on the Josh Boone-directed X-MEN spinoff mention the main characters Magik, Cannonball, Wolfsbane, and Mirage. Notably absent is Karma, one of the founding members of the New Mutants, and the X-Universe’s foremost Vietnamese-American queer mutant superhero. 

Happy to see Mirage, (along with the stoic-if-questionably-codenamed Warpath, she’d be one of the few Native American superheroes represented in the films and TV shows) but I’d argue that Karma is essential to the New Mutants, and we might as well not have a New Mutants movie without her. She’s actually been around longer than any of the NMs, having first appeared with Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in MARVEL TEAM-UP #100 in 1980.

Karma’s a very interesting character, not that all the New Mutants don’t have crazy and convoluted backstories, but Karma/Xi’an Coy Manh’s history is particularly resonant with social issues because:

She’s dealt with body image a lot.

From NEW MUTANTS Special Edition #1 (1985) by Chris Claremont/Arthur Adams/Terry Austin.

Karma’s definitely one of the only comic book women who has ever been drawn obese, in that (reasonably) tasteful storyline where she switched minds with an evil psychic ganglord who ate and ate until her body inflated to obese evil-ganglord proportions. (SPOILER: She eventually returns to her superhero-standard size zero after being banished to an Asgardian desert for six weeks and having to eat lizards.)

A page from NEW MUTANTS, art by Bill Sienkiewicz

She’s an openly gay POC, and could be on the All-Queer X-Men team also featuring Northstar, Iceman, and Rictor. I mean, she wasn’t always gay, but these days she is, and that’s one of the cool things about comics characters — they change with the times.

She’s Vietnamese, and a large part of her character’s makeup is informed by the Asian immigrant experience. (The Mutant-American experience, as always, serving as metaphor for marginalized ethnicities.) She also has a mutant twin brother and two little siblings, and as happens within a lot of displaced superpowered Asian families, their relationships are phở-ed up. 

And, of course, she can be another member of the All-Asian X-Woman Movie Squadron I’ve proposed elsewhere, although she’ll probably have to fight Psylocke for the Head Mind-Controlling position. But that’s a fight I think we’d all like to see.

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