Fox Studios might have been acquired by Disney early last year, but the final entry in its X-Men series, The New Mutants, is still (finally) on the way. A new trailer for the film appeared on the 20th Century Fox YouTube channel on January 6, complete with a theatrical release date — April 3, 2020.
The flick’s production troubles have become the stuff of legend. Principal photography wrapped all the way back in September of 2017, and it’s endured multiple delays, reshoots (some of which it appears were ordered, but never happened), and the sale of its production house to a company many observers figured wouldn’t be too keen on releasing the film in any way, shape, or form, given the potential to dilute its most popular brand. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is far and away the most successful film franchise of all time, and with New Mutants being a holdover from Fox’s successful-if-uneven X-Men series, the conventional wisdom has been that Disney may dump the film to streaming service Hulu — or even just shelve it permanently.
Amazingly, the House of Mouse will do neither of these things. The new spot for the flick (which director Josh Boone has long described as Marvel’s first out-and-out horror movie) is action-packed and creepy as heck, and it also introduces us to a phalanx of iconic characters from the pages of Marvel comics who are making their first live-action appearances. Who are they? We’re here to break it down for you.
Danielle “Dani” Moonstar (Blu Hunt, Another Life) has been known to simply use her awesome last name as her code name, but she’s also gone by other aliases including Psyche, Spellbinder, and (most prominently) Mirage. A Native American and member of the Cheyenne Nation, Dani has the mutant ability to project realistic three-dimensional images that she draws from the minds of others. Initially, she was able only to project the subject’s worst fear — but with training from Charles Xavier, she honed her ability to the point that she was able to project any image from within the minds of her targets.
Dani’s powers aren’t alluded to in the trailer; it’s implied that she survived some terrible disaster, and she joins the rest of the group (who are being held at a facility run by the mysterious Dr. Cecilia Reyes) as a newcomer. It appears that the character will serve as something of an audience surrogate, and it remains to be seen just how her illusion-generating powers will come into play.
Rahne Sinclaie (Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones) is known as Wolfsbane, which may give you an idea of her mutant ability: lycanthropy. That is, she’s basically a werewolf, although her transformations have nothing to do with the Moon. She able to initiate the change at will, and she also retains her human personality and intellect while in wolf form. In addition to the obvious benefits of enhanced strength, speed, and reflexes that come with her transformation, she’s also able to see portions of the light spectrum which normal humans cannot — she can function as a lie detector by reading a subject’s body heat signature — and she also possesses a greatly enhanced healing factor.
Although we do not see Rahne wolf out in the trailer, we do hear her voiceover explain that she “thought it was a dream” the first time that it happened, and that she “just lost control.” It’ll be interesting to see if she’s made into a more traditional type of werewolf in the movie — one that transforms against her will, and is prone to, you know, eating people.
Next, we have Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton, Stranger Things), who is known by the code name Cannonball. Sam has the ability to generate vast amounts of propulsive energy from virtually any part of his body, enabling him to propel himself through the air like… well, you get the idea. He can also use this power to create concussive blasts or to form an energy shield around his body, which renders him incredibly durable. He can also absorb and disperse kinetic energy, making him nearly impervious to harm by conventional means; so potent is this ability that, by dropping himself from altitude like a bomb, he’s been seen to be capable of leveling several city blocks.
Sam’s abilities are only briefly seen in the spot, as he powers up one of his arms; in his introduction, he only alludes to the fact that there was an incident in which he panicked, and “people got hurt.” He appears to be among the most profoundly unstable of the bunch, which is bound to lead him into some dangerous situations; fortunately, if he shares one key trait with his comics counterpart, it may not matter. While a member of the X-Force, Cannonball was discovered by Cable to be a possible “External” — a type of mutant that is virtually immortal.
Roberto “Bobby” da Costa (Henry Zaga, 13 Reasons Why) is a fittingly hot-headed mutant code-named Sunspot, with the ability to absorb solar energy, and — by causing a chemical reaction within the cells of his body — to release it in a number of ways. He can greatly enhance his physical strength and durability, unleash blasts of concussive energy or deadly waves of heat, sustain himself without food, water, or oxygen, and (by causing thermal updrafts) fly.
We briefly see Bobby transformed and unleashing thermal energy near the spot’s conclusion, with an appearance much like has sports in the comics (he normally appears cloaked in inky darkness, as his mutant ability siphons all ambient light from around him). In his introduction, though, he makes a brief reference to a girlfriend who suffered a grim demise; this would align with the fate of Juliana Sandoval, Bobby’s significant other in the comics, who died protecting him from mercenaries employed by the infamous Hellfire Club. It certainly seems like The New Mutants will be leaning into the fact that all of these characters are united by having suffered some terrible trauma in their recent pasts.
The final member of the team: Illyana Rasputina, also known as Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy, Glass). In the comics, Illyana is the younger sister of the Alpha-level mutant Mikhail Rasputin (who has the ability to manipulate matter on a subatomic level) and Piotr Rasputin, known to the Marvel faithful as the X-Man Colossus. A magic user, Illyana can channel the dimension of Limbo for own purposes; she can transport herself and/or others through space and time, generate psionic shields and armor, project herself astrally, and conjure a magical weapon known as the Soulsword. She has undergone training in the use of her abilities from none other than Doctor Strange; she is, in fact, the Sorceress Supreme of Limbo, although — since New Mutants is in no way connected to the MCU — this will obviously not come into play in the movie.
In the trailer, Illyana is seen — apparently quite cheerfully — describing how she “killed 18 men, one… by… one.” She also appears to be among the first to question the motives of Dr. Reyes, telling Dani, “this isn’t a hospital… it’s a cage.” This remark apparently sets Dani off on an investigative path, as she’s later seen telling Rahne, “I saw something I don’t think she wanted me to see… I don’t think we’re here to get better.” What, then, are they there for? Only Dr. Reyes knows for sure — but who the heck is she?
In the comics, Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga, Elysium) is a trauma surgeon who had long sought to keep her status as a mutant a secret. She constantly projects a psionic field which surrounds her body, keeping her from harm,whether she tries to or not; under the tutelage of Xavier, she eventually learned to use the field as a weapon, using it to put power behind her strikes and as a projectile.
Nothing in the character’s comic history has ever suggested that she would be a villain, and she was never seen in charge of any kind of medical facility (she simply works as an ER surgeon at a hospital in the South Bronx). If she indeed has some kind of sinister motive, this would certainly represent a significant change from her comics characterization — but somehow, we don’t think this is the case.
In fact, we’re going to go ahead and guess right now that Dr. Reyes isn’t actually present at the facility where this unfortunate band of youngsters is being kept. We’re betting that she’s one of Dani’s projections, perhaps pulled from the psyche of one of her fellow team members, or even from her own (remember, she’s first seen in the trailer fleeing from what appears to be some tragic accident).
We know, we’re swinging for the fences here, but every psychological horror movie needs a good twist. We’re thinking that New Mutants‘ M. Night Shyamalan moment will come when it’s revealed not only that Dr. Reyes was never there, but that she’s been dead all along.