Arriving overnight, the first trailer for director Josh Boone’s The New Mutants reveals a corner of Fox’s X-Men universe unlike any we’ve seen in the past 17 years. It’s a full-fledged horror movie, as promised, not a superhero action-adventure.
Stacey Snider, co-chairman of 20th Century Fox, had compared the film not so much to the studio’s previous X-Men releases as to The Shining and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which doesn’t appear to have been marketing hyperbole: The trailer promises a haunted-house movie — with mutants — set in an aging hospital or mental institution.
Although Boone and his co-writer Knate Lee are said to have drawn inspiration from “The Demon Bear Saga,” the seminal 1984 New Mutants storyline by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, you won’t see any enormous demonic bears in the trailer’s footage. You will, however, find plenty of tension, some jump-scares and at least a couple of things that may defy explanation. We break down the teaser’s elements below.
That’s NOT the X-Mansion
The New Mutants were introduced in 1982 by Marvel Comics as the younger students at Charles Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, but in this adaptation there’s no Professor X, no school and, presumably, no X-Men. Instead, these teenage mutants are held against their will in a secret facility, clearly one with secrets of its own.
There, they undergo scientific tests and surveillance and, as we see in the trailer, withstand a barrage of horrors. For what purpose isn’t clear just yet, but Alice Braga’s Dr. Cecilia Reyes assures it’s for their own good. “Did you know that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adult ones?” she tells Danielle Moonstar (played by Blu Hunt). “They haven’t learned to control how much venom is secreted. All of you are dangerous; that’s why you’re here.”
Dr. Cecilia Reyes (But Maybe Not the One We Know)
Introduced in 1997 in X-Men #65, the Cecilia Reyes of Marvel Comics was a mutant who vowed to become a doctor after her father was gunned down. Offered a place by Charles Xavier at his school, Cecilia initially turned him down, opting instead to continue her residency as a trauma surgeon at Our Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx. She later joined the X-Men for a time, but never really took to the life of a superhero.
The Dr. Cecilia Reyes played by Alice Braga in The New Mutants doesn’t appear to have been in common with her comic-book counterpart. Although the character was described in early reports as a “mentor,” essentially filling the void left by Xavier’s absence from the film, this trailer casts her in a somewhat-sinister light. Does she want to help these young mutants — these “baby rattlesnakes” — or does she have ulterior motives?
Danielle Moonstar (Mirage)
Played by Blu Hunt (The Originals), Danielle Moonstar is central to the early New Mutants stories, and to “The Demon Bear Saga,” so it’s no surprise that she’s featured prominently in the trailer. Originally code-named Psyche and later Mirage in Marvel comics, Dani possesses the psionic ability to project illusions of her opponents’ greatest fears and wishes. One of the first manifestations of her power was a vision of a demonic bear killing her parents, so when they disappeared while on a hunting trip, she blamed herself.
Dani’s abilities may be central to The New Mutants film, helping to explain the nightmarish visions — at least we think they’re only visions — that plague the patients throughout the teaser trailer.
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