The New Mutants director Josh Boone gave a tone-deaf response when asked about the criticism leveled at him for the casting of Sunspot in the film.
In the Marvel comics, Sunspot is described as an Afro-Brazillian man whose upbringing includes tackling anti-Black racism in his home country of Brazil. The role of Sunspot eventually went to actor Henry Zaga.
Zaga, while Brazillian in real life, is not of Afro-Brazillian descent and has a significantly lighter complexion to what the character is portrayed as in the comics.
They’re trying to pass Henry Zaga off as Sunspot and you can bet New Mutants won’t get any views from me pic.twitter.com/NGgE9wePsC
— Latinx Geeks (@LatinxGeeks) May 25, 2017
In the interview with Gizmodo, Boone revealed that he saw hundreds Black and brown actors for the role of Sunspot. He also revealed that he would’ve cast an actor or darker complexion if he didn’t cast Zaga.
“Maybe if Henry didn’t exist, I would have found somebody who was darker skinned,” Boone stated.
When asked about the erasure of Sunspot’s Black roots, Boone also went as far as saying that he didn’t care about the racism in Brazil and wanted a positive representation of Brazil when casting Sunspot.
“I didn’t care so much about the racism I’ve heard about in Brazil, about light-skinned versus dark-skinned,” Boone said. “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.
This is not the first time The New Mutants has been the center of controversy. Actress Rosario Dawson was in talks to join the film as Cecilia Reyes, a Black Puerto Rican medical doctor who mentors the new group of mutants. However, Dawson left the project and the role of Reyes went to Alice Braga, a white Latina actress with Brazilian roots.
The whitewashing in New Mutants is frankly outrageous. Over the years Sunspot has sometimes been (incorrectly) drawn more racially ambiguous depending on the artist, but are you REALLY telling me this is supposed to be Dr. Cecilia Reyes? pic.twitter.com/5adNYXkkoI
— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) August 27, 2020
Boone’s controversial comments have garnered criticism on social media ahead of its release.
Let’s just take a big ole sip of this tea and read this interview with New Mutants director Josh Boone being asked about the erasure of Sunspot’s black identity, I’m sure nothing will to wr- pic.twitter.com/eIpIsqT4KE
— Zoe! That’s Me! (@Blankzilla) August 26, 2020
“Hi, my name is Josh Boone and I didn’t care about the racism.” Said the director of a film whose source material explicitly deals with the racism, situated within a larger, loser metaphor about bigotry such as racism.
— Jessie Drake Defense Coalition (they/them) (@sjw_LauraKinney) August 26, 2020
After several delays, the film will be released this Friday, August 28.
Photo: Marvel/Getty Images