'New Mutants' delayed to 2020 as future of X-Men franchise remains unclear

Josh Boone's The New Mutants was originally slated for release in April, 2018.(20th Century Fox)

Will we ever actually see The New Mutants?

That was a common refrain on social media in the wake of Tuesday's mega-announcement from the newly merged Disney/Fox moviemaking empire that listed the studios' thus far-planned release dates through 2027. Yes, 2027.

While the announcement featured all kinds of exciting news (New Star Wars moviesRearranged Avatar datesIndiana Jones! Untitled Marvel!), it's the shifting of the X-Men spinoff from its previously announced date of 2 August to April 2020 that's gotten much of the attention in response.

Read more: X-Men not joining MCU for ‘a long time’

That's because The New Mutants has become somewhat of an enigma among movie fans and journalists. It's the rare superhero franchise entry to be shot and subsequently shelved — or at least delayed (originally planned for 13 April, 2018) and delayed (moved to 22 February, 2019) and delayed (2 August, 2019) and delayed (April 2020) — earning the stigma that inevitably accompanies these types of situations in Hollywood: that it may not be very good.

It looked good. At least when we saw the first trailer way back in October 2017. The Josh Boone-directed, Simon Kinberg-produced film introduces a clever twist to an oversaturated landscape — superheroes in a horror movie — and it felt like just the shift the generation-pivoting X-Men series needed as excitement for it ebbed and flowed in recent years.

And it boasts a cool young cast, with Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya-Taylor Joy (Split/Glass) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) among the quintet of mutants held captive in a nefarious secret facility.

The film was initially shot in Boston, Massachusetts from July-September 2017, meaning by the time it opens (assuming it actually does open next April), it will be nearly three years in between production and release. That's made for some good fodder on Twitter:

Reshoots were conducted in mid-2018, reportedly to amp up the horror elements that intrigued fans of the first trailer. Yet as delay after delay sullied the film's buzz, rumours swirled that the project could be moving from traditional release to streaming on Hulu or Disney+, the conglomerate's upcoming streaming service. The merging of Fox and the Mouse House surely muddied the waters when it came to the film's troubled timeline, but it appears (at least for now) that New Mutants finally has a true theatrical due date.

Questions remain, though, regarding other X-Men properties.

Conspicuously absent from the Disney-Fox slate was Gambit, the long-in-development-hell standalone X-Men actioner supposedly starring Channing Tatum and previously scheduled for release in March 2020. This has led to speculation — no, declaration — that the project is officially dead, though Disney/Fox has not officially confirmed as much.

Read more: Gambit’s timeline of trouble

Fox's healthiest superhero franchise remains Deadpool, the R-rated Ryan Reynolds vehicle that racked up a cool £1.2 billion from just two movies in 2016 and 2018. There's also no mention of the Merc With a Mouth on the new Disney/Fox slate, but you probably don't want to read too much into that.

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 20: Canadian-American actor Ryan Reynolds attends the premiere of 'Deadpool 2' on January 20, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

There's no way Disney is doing away with Fox's golden mutant goose, and the studio's chairman and CEO Bob Iger has promised they'll continue to produce R-rated Deadpool films under the traditional family friendlier Disney umbrella.

Read more: How Endgame could have introduced the X-Men

And let's not forget the single biggest reason comic book fans were excited about the uniting of Disney and Fox: It will almost certainly eventually fold the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That will certainly take stakeholders like MCU chief Kevin Feige, Iger and Kinberg some time to sort out exactly how that will unfold, as they're likely shuffling around the next-phase, post-Endgame MCU releases and still figuring out how to Tetris them all together.

But we won't blame you if you let your imagination wander to exactly what those "Untitled Marvel" projects could end up being.

By Kevin Polowy, Yahoo Entertainment