After almost two and a half years of interminable delays, The New Mutants is finally, actually getting released, although the final cut differs somewhat from director Josh Boone’s original vision. He’s now revealed one of the changes made was the decision to not feature Warlock, as well as his surprising preferred casting choice of Sacha Baron Cohen.
When speaking to Nerdist about the film, Boone talked of his desire to include the character as a mo-cap performance, imagining Baron Cohen as becoming the “Andy Serkis of Warlock,” referring to the motion capture expert who has played the likes of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, Caesar from the reboot Planet of the Apes trilogy and King Kong.
In the comics, Warlock was one of the original New Mutants, and an exile from an alien race of mechanical beings known as the Technarchy, who survive by infecting others with a techno-organic virus and siphoning their life force. Warlock was considered an aberration as a result of his refusal to feed on sentient beings due to possessing a level of compassion lacked by many of his species, who drain others to death without feeling a thing.
Baron Cohen, meanwhile, is primarily a comic actor known for adopting various personae such as Ali G, Borat and Brüno, where he conducts interviews in character and uses their exaggerated and outrageous views to lower the guard of those he’s talking to, prompting them to reveal things they might otherwise have kept hidden.
The main reason Warlock was discarded came down to money. An entirely CG character is costly enough on their own, but as one whose design would require intricate detail to create the glowing circuitry of his skin, his would be a complicated and expensive presence to realize. Boone was told to make the choice between including Warlock or keeping the Demon Bear, with his love for the latter ultimately winning out.
Given the Demon Bear’s connection to The New Mutants’ viewpoint character Mirage, it was probably the better choice, but Boone did also state that if after all this palaver there was actually a sequel, he would take the opportunity to include the awkward mechanical man and tell his story.