Fox continues to blend genres with their next entry in their cinematic universe of superheroes.
Despite X-Men: Apocalypse being one bump in the road, Twentieth Century Fox has come a long way with their Marvel properties since the disastrous Fantastic Four reboot of 2015. Deadpool was a success with both critics and audiences, and Logan remains one of the best movies of 2017 so far through its use of tropes from the western genre. Last week, they released the trailer for their first tentpole release of next year, The New Mutants, and the Internet was abuzz with surprise and excitement over what the newest spinoff in the X-Men franchise has to offer in terms of not only characters, but also aesthetics. Because what better way to elevate a mostly-unknown property to new heights by putting them into a horror film?
The horror movie set pieces are what stand out the most in the first trailer. From the start, the camera slowly pans down a dark, empty hallway before dissolving to a shot of headstones in a cemetery, then revealing a cast member hooked up to a lie detector test while a doctor asks her a series of questions. From there, the trailer shows the titular group of teenagers exploring a seemingly haunted hospital all while the imagery grows more and more terrifying, complete with a character unconscious as it rains ash, nightmarish experiments, unknown beings reaching for them within the walls, and flames exploding from a washing machine as a silhouetted hand presses on the glass from the inside.
What’s also notable is that the trailer prominently features a cast that’s rounded out with actors familiar to both the horror and fantasy genres. Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Illyana Rasputin aka Magik here, has become one of the best scream queens of today thanks to her work in The Witch and Split, and Charlie Heaton got his big break in the sci-fi/horror Netflix hit Stranger Things, and here, takes a turn as Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball. Meanwhile, Maisie Williams finally joins her Game of Thrones co-star, Sophie Turner, in Fox’s X-Men Cinematic Universe with her role in this as the shape shifter, Wolfsbane.
Another reason to be excited for The New Mutants is the presence of a fan of the source material at the directing helm in Josh Boone, who caught the attention of Fox with his debut feature, the romantic comedy Stuck In Love, then the major studio signed him on to direct the adaptation of the young adult novel, The Fault In Our Stars, which was a box office and critical success. From his filmography, Boone is a filmmaker that knows how to tell a great coming-of-age story centered around young adults, and while this will be his first entry in the horror and superhero genre, the seeds are there in The New Mutants for a story that’s really about coping with life as an outcast, or the anxiety of growing into the person one’s meant to be.
The New Mutants made their Marvel Comics debut in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 in 1982, and had three series of comic books that would launch in 1983, 2003 and 2009, and they continue to live in comic book obscurity as a lesser-known group of heroes in the X-Men universe today. But come April 13 next year, if the movie delivers on the horror film with superheroes that the trailer promises, Fox could do to The New Mutants what Marvel did to Guardians of the Galaxy with their big-screen debut, and that possibility in particular has me excited for the film, and for everyone involved.