Do you believe in miracles? Director Josh Boone surely does. After years of stasis, and the radical acquisition of 21st Century Fox by the Walt Disney Company, The New Mutants is free from its post-production limbo. Not only will it screen theatrically rather than its much-feared dumping on Hulu, but the film has also apparently returned to its original horrific vision. Reshoots tossed, tangential references to the previous X-Men franchise ejected, and the seal of approval has been stamped by at least one comic book creator.
Taking to Twitter, revered comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz (co-creator of many of The New Mutants‘ most famous storylines) stated emphatically, “The New Mutants film is Josh Boone’s version…Cold, dark, and frightening.” Not interested in fitting neatly next to the other super-powered mutant movies, Boone wants to uncover the much larger canvas that superhero cinema can spread upon. While rarely do films resurrected from development hell prove themselves to be serious contenders, the below trailer gives us hope that The New Mutants will be more A Cabin in the Woods and less of a Red Dawn remake.
As we saw in the previous first trailer released in 2017, Boone’s The New Mutants is itching to populate A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 with mutants rather than Dream Warriors and trading out Freddy Krueger for a Demon Bear. What the hell does that all mean? Well, let’s get into it by plucking out a few of the most significant shots and finding hope in a film that nearly never saw the light of day.
This is not the X-Mansion. It’s the Medfield State Hospital, aka the hellhole previously known as the Medfield State Asylum and the same shooting location Martin Scorsese used for Shutter Island. The sign on the door is hard to read as the first three letters are rubbed out — something “‘bury Hospital.” In the comics, Danielle “Dani” Moonstar, aka Mirage (Blu Hunt), is hospitalized at the Mid-County Medical Center after a nearly fatal accident inside the Danger Room (the VR/holodeck training facility used by the X-Men), and while under their care she is attacked by a psychic force in the shape of a bear. Boone keeps the hospital setting but gives every member a reason to be trapped in one sterile and haunted environment.
“Do you know what mutants are?” asks Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga) as Dani is introduced to a roomful of similarily tortured teenagers. From left to right: Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Roberto da Costa, aka Sunspot (Henry Zaga), Illyana Rasputin, aka Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), and Sam Guthrie, aka Cannonball (Charlie Heaton).
Assembled not by a kind, free-loving Professor X, but meticulously studied by a mysterious fearful group. For good reason. With a thought, Dani is capable of conjuring any number of illusions born from her victims’ worst fears. While not witnessed in this trailer, she could possibly contain the ability to transform psychic energy into kinetic weapons. For all intents and purposes, Rahne Sinclair is a werewolf, but one who can theoretically change at will rather than moonlight. Roberto da Costa can absorb, channel, and manipulate solar power. Sam Guthrie can wrap a forcefield around himself and use it to propel his body into supersonic flight. Illyana Rasputin is brother to the X-Man Colossus, but rather than unpenetrable skin, she’s gifted with teleportation…but more importantly, it’s to where she can teleport. She’s no simple Nightcrawler; she has access to Limbo and other dark realms.
Cut to the Marvel Entertainment logo, not the Marvel Studios logo. Do not expect The New Mutants to be shimming up alongside the Avengers. Could that change in the future? The New Mutants would have to make some serious bank for that to happen — you know, like Deadpool money. Of course, I’ve learned to never say never where Marvel movies are concerned.
Dr. Reyes asks the group to share their origin stories. Rude, but what else are they gonna do while locked up together. Rahne leads with her tale of transformation. Notice the M slathered on her neck. Was it placed there by hate-mongers, or worn as an act of pride? She explains how she lost control, and the beast came out. Folks were most definitely hurt.
Each member describes their power with fear in their eyes. They’re here to get better. They’re here to gain control…or be controlled. It’s not a question as to whether emotional, hormonal teenagers with deadly abilities will go off, it’s a question of when will they go off? The teens are just as scared as the adults. Well, with the exception of one.
Illyana Rasputin boldly takes claim of her victims, “I killed 18 men, one…by…one.” She’s judge, jury, and executioner. Based on the distribution of snowy corpses left in her wake, we’re left to assume that she dispatched another collection of individuals who dared to contain her might. The impression you get here is that she’s staying put for only as long as she wants to stay put. A snap of her fingers and she could be gone. Others quake where she stands triumphant. Be nice or suffer the consequences.
Illyana knows her place. As Dani attempts to get beyond the walls of the hospital, she encounters an electric force field. “This is not a hospital,” Illyana explains. “It’s a cage.” The Dr. Reyes of the comics is a trauma surgeon with the ability to erect containment fields around her person. She’s not a sinister individual and mostly means well. She found herself on the X-Men reluctantly, always wishing to lead a normal life, but a mutant’s existence rejects normalcy.
The Dr. Reyes of the film seems to be positioned as a nefarious threat, but I’m betting she’s more good-intentioned than the other folks patrolling the halls of the hospital. There are many schools of thought on how to handle “the mutant problem.” Extermination, imprisonment, training, education. Professor X does not have the space to house them all…especially if he doesn’t actually exist in this new post-merger timeline.
We’ve seen these monsters in previous trailers. Flip them over, and you’ll spot their smiley-faced masks. These tattooed goons are the real scum of the movie known as “The Right.” They’re an organization of anti-mutant thugs created by Cameron Hodge. Who, wha, huh? The one-time college roommate of the X-Men’s Angel, Hodge uses his wealth to fund the high-tech extremists in their pursuit to rid the earth of the mutant dilemma. These creeps look a lot less fancy than their comic book counterparts, but what they lack in gear, they make up for in their terrifying branding. No one wants to encounter a bright smiley-face in the dark. They’re hanging here until someone picks up their Saw knock-off series.
The most brilliant aspect of this latest trailer, and the element that separates it from the previous trailers, is how the marketing finally unveils the full potential of its heroes. Boone is not low-keying their operatic natures. These teens are badass and dangerous. The world should be scared. Look at Roberto da Costa in full Sunspot mode. He’s not a victim. He’s not timid. He’s got this, and he’s ready to use his access to solar power to his advantage.
Even more intimidating is Illyana dropping out of Limbo, armored up, and carrying the Soulsword. So, seriously, what’s her deal? Investigating her flashback, we can see that the killings of those 18 men were committed when she was much younger. When she first gained access to her powers as a child in the comic, she transported to the alternate dimension known as Limbo, where she was raised by mirrored versions of Storm and Shadowcat. For a decade, she learned the ways of a sorceress and created the mystical Soulsword. When wielding this weapon, she grows horns, fangs, and body armor. We don’t see the horns or the fangs here, but we do get the sword and armor. She’s the big gun, and the New Mutants desperately need her to take down the Demon Bear.
The Demon Bear attempts to meet Illyana’s badass glare with one of his own. He’s not all teeth and red eyes, he’s a nightmare come to life, and in the comics, born from the mutation of Dani’s parents. The beast feeds on negative human energy, and by the looks of it in this trailer, he is enjoying quite the feast from our fearful New Mutants. The only way to fight terror is with terror. We see your Demon Bear, and we raise you Magik.
The Limbo in which Illyana was raised is basically hell, a realm of bloodthirsty demons living in a constant state of power-craving. To live there, and to survive there, requires a tremendous amount of will and emotional fortitude. The place builds titans, and few characters are as confidently titanic as Illyana Rasputin. She has been waiting for a test of skills like this for her entire life. The Demon Bear will make a nice rug for her apartment. Dani might be our gateway character into the film, but Illyana is our most desired action figure.
The New Mutants will FINALLY land in theaters on April 3rd.