Demon bears and Magik acts: Breaking down The New Mutants trailer's biggest moments
Just like artist Bill Sienkiewicz’s 1980s comic book series for The New Mutants, director Josh Boone's film adaptation changes the X-Men franchise as we've come to know it on screen. It's X-Men meets horror.
After years of delays, talks of reshoots that appear to have never come to fruition, and Disney's purchase of the 21st Century Fox studio that left question marks around a lot of planned films, The New Mutants is finally ready to hit theaters. With the latest trailer reveal comes a treasure trove of hidden gems, homages, and secrets to what this "Stephen King meets John Hughes" tone will bring.
As the five teen mutants who are forcibly kept at a secret facility must face the sins of the past as strange phenomena begin to occur, so too do we face the horrors that lie within this trailer. Let's unpack the biggest moments.
As with Sienkiewicz’s art, The New Mutants film begins and ends with Danielle Moonstar, played by Blu Hunt.
Dani, a Native American, hails from the Cheyenne Nation and maintains the ability to create complex illusions, often by tapping into someone's fears. At this point, she doesn't know it. So, she's forced to face her own worst fear: a memory of fire and mayhem. She clings to what appears to be her father's arm as she rushes through snow and away from the destruction laying waste behind her, the source of which can't be seen.
What's up, doc?
"The reason you survived is because you're a very uncommon girl," Dani is told by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), the mysterious physician at the even more mysterious hospital (if we can even call it that) where they reside.
The spirit of Sienkiewicz’s images is alive and well.
Where previous X-Men comics had been bright with fine lines, one of the first images of his '80s New Mutants run — Dani peeking out from beneath her bed sheets at the creature lurking beneath her bed — noted a stark shift in tone. Boone transposes some of this imagery in the context of the film.
"You're not alone. Not anymore."
Dani isn't the first mutant to find herself at this facility. There's Rahne Sinclair (Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams), Sam Guthrie (Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton), Roberto da Costa (Looking for Alaska's Henry Zaga), and Illyana Rasputin (Split and Glass' Anya Taylor-Joy). The Breakfast Club vibes are real and definitely intentional. Remember, Boone called those early comics "Stephen King meets John Hughes."
Let's get to know them better.
Christ compels her
In the comics, Rahne's childhood was harsh. She had a strict religious upbringing as an orphan by a minister who later turned out to be her father. In the film, each character is haunted by visions and strange occurrences. Here, Rahne finds herself walking among the pews once again, though there's something ferocious that takes off a large chunk of the confessional booth.
Rahne's codename on the New Mutants team is Wolfsbane, due to her lycanthrope shapeshifting ability. "I was 13," she says in the trailer. "I thought it was a dream. I just lost control." The X gene typically awakens during adolescence, but the horrors of puberty are much more... horrific for Rahne. (Note, the "M" brand on her neck, hinting at an even more traumatic past.)
Rumors have been swirling recently about The New Mutants possibly seeing Rahne and Dani in a relationship. Though it remains unconfirmed, the trailer seems to suggest it's true. As they say, huge if true. It would mark the first lead LGBTQ superheroes in a major comic book-based Hollywood film. (The Eternals movie is scheduled for later in the year.)
The moment would also pay tribute to The New Mutants' place in the history of comics. Karma, a character who isn't in the movie, was one of the first mutants recruited for the super-group on the page and she later came out as lesbian.
It's also appropriate that a werewolf-like mutant finds herself drawn to another with the last name of "Moonstar."
"I started panicking. People got hurt." This memory will forever haunt Sam, a.k.a. Cannonball — sometimes literally. His mutant ability allows his body to give off and release thermo-chemical energy, which he can use to shoot himself into the air... like a cannonball.
Mining the past
Sam can't stop thinking about the coal mines. After his father's death, he went to work helping his family when the mine collapsed, trapping them all. This moment ignited his mutant powers, allowing him to escape. As the trailer hints, the film seems to be giving this a more devastating twist. Did he cause the mine to fall in?
Later in the trailer, we see how visually Sam can manifest his power. In the face of... something, his hands glow red as energy surges to the surface of his skin.
Burned by love
Roberto's sin? "My girlfriend. I burned her."
As his preppy clothes hint, this mutant came from an affluent family. Then his powers developed and changed everything. As Sunspot, he's able to harness solar energy and convert it into physical strength, though the process turns his skin black. The film seems to lean more into other character abilities so it's a bit more reflective of the his namesake. What was meant to be a steamy moment with his girlfriend became a little too hot for both parties.
Towards the end of this preview, we see how Boone and co. have rendered Sunspot for the screen.
Wanna see a Magik trick?
Then there's Illyana, a fan favorite. Her history in the comics is vast and complex: she was the brother of Colossus (that guy from the X-Men movies who can turn his skin into metal), she once died because of a virus that affected only mutants, she ruled the realm of Limbo for a spell, and she got involved with parallel times and realities, to name just a few moments. In short, she's a sorceress, hence her codename Magik.
Death becomes her
"I killed 18 men, one by one," Illyana says as the trailer glimpses the bodies laying in her wake.
Another fun comic nod is the snow falling on this scene: Illyana's brother often called her his "little snowflake."
Coming in swinging
A signature of Magik is her sword and, yes, you bet it makes an appearance in live-action form. The weapon emerges out of her, traveling from her shoulder, coating her arm in glistening armor before materializing fully in her hand.
"This isn't a hospital. It's a cage"
How is Dr. Reyes able to keep these mutants with such volatile abilities at this place against their will? Dani finds out when she touches a force field encasing the grounds. Who put it there? Is Dr. Reyes hiding her own abilities?
Boone, a fan of Stephen King and horror in general, pays homage to a number of his favorite film inspirations. TV screens will always have a place in this genre, thanks to The Ring and Poltergeist. Here, they are equally sinister.
Bear through the pain
Dr. Reyes says she just wants to help Dani get better, but maybe that means getting better by purging her of her powers. As we ponder more of this doc's intentions, the scene with Dani on the medical slab offers a glimpse of the real threat stalking these kids. (Note the necklace.)
"I saw something I don't think she wanted me to see."
Streaks of blond hair poke out from beneath this pile of slender, masked figures with symbols inked into their flesh. Perhaps these are part of Illyana's past that have come back to haunt her. In another scene, as she and Sam back away from something in the hallway, one of these gangly creeps falls from the ceiling like an arachnid.
Is this all real? Are they just seeing things? If it's in their mind, these visions can't hurt them... right? ... Right?! "This place takes your greatest fear and makes you live through it until it kills you," Dr. Reyes says.
Here's another nod to Sienkiewicz’s artwork, invoking the 1983 issue #18. In the comics, Dani's parents were killing by something, a giant "demon bear" from which she can't escape, no matter how hard she runs. Diving too deep into this creature's comic origins may risk spoiling what will happen in the film, so we'll leave it at that for now.
Rahne finds herself in a graveyard, one with unnamed tombstones, designated by numbers and crosses. Tombs are never a good sign for heroes. Though, whose tomb is it?
And here it is. The demon bear. Not just a blur, though it's still shrouded in shadow, the beastie comes out to play.
"We can get out of this together."
After Illyana drops down from a portal in the air, she and the other four mutants finally unite in battle against the demon bear, which constantly shifts form as a swirling black mass. Illyana has her sword and someone is flying around the creature, shooting off energy beams. We're assuming it's Cannonball, but, as also we saw earlier in the trailer, the energy emitting from the figure in this shot is a different color. Could it be...? No, it couldn't... could it?
Some viewers are theorizing online that this zooming little buddy could be Lockheed, a small, dragon-like alien typically associated with X-Men member Kitty Pryde, but also accompanies Illyana in the comics. That first New Mutants trailer featured a flashback to a young Illyana clutching a purple plush dragon as an Easter egg to the character. But perhaps it actually comes to life.
The New Mutants is scheduled to hit theaters April 3. We'll find out then.