Breaking Down The New Mutants' Astonishingly Hype New Trailer

Scenes from The New Mutants, a movie that might actually be fantastic.
Image: All images via 20th Century Fox/Disney

For a long while, it seemed as if Josh Boone’s The New Mutants would never actually make it into theaters to show us just what Fox was going to do with a horror story about mutants trapped in a nightmarish hospital. But then, like a distressed child trapped in limbo after accidentally teleporting themselves there, a new trailer for the movie suddenly appeared.

Though Disney easily could have sidelined The New Mutants and just left it to debut on Disney+, the studio still intends to give the movie a proper release in theaters, and the newest trailer is a testament to how good of an idea that might end up being.

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The trailer doesn’t get all that much into the movie’s plot, exactly, but it gives you a solid sense of the tone and energy the story’s going for, and it’s a surprisingly fresh change of pace from your typical “we’ve got to save the world” fare we typically associate with comic book adaptations. The New Mutants is apparently going to be very much a horror movie, but the new trailer also makes clear that the studio never planned to shy away from the story’s batshit, comic roots, which is absolutely fantastic.

Dani catching drops of blood on her hand.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney
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The trailer opens with a shot of Dani (Blu Hunt) waking up to an inexplicable rainfall of blood which, melodramatic as it is, makes sense given that this movie’s meant to be scary—and canonically, Dani’s central power is to create psychic manifestations of people’s dreams (nightmarish or otherwise). It’s unclear whose blood is falling onto her hands in what appears to be an X-gene powered dream sequence, but you can imagine that what she’s seeing here is premonition warning her of the danger that she and the other New Mutants are all in.

Rahne transforming into a wolf-like creature.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney
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As part of their “treatment” at Dr. Cecilia Reyes’ (Alice Braga) facility, the New Mutants are getting the group therapy they all desperately need. While the kids are a bit reluctant to explain exactly how their powers have made their lives more difficult, we see that Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) is all too willing to share a story about her first transformation into a wolf-like creature.

Before they understood how their abilities functioned, both Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) ended up hating themselves for causing devastating harm to the people closest to them, and it’s all very difficult for them to talk about. But unlike her peers, Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy) seems well aware of the demonic nature of her mutant powers, and she’s quite fine with the fact that she’s murdered more than a few people.

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Dani realizing that she and the other kids are trapped.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney

All of the New Mutants are legitimately learning something because of the time they spend with Reyes, but Dani soon realizes that none of them are as free as the doctor would have them think. Though the hospital they’re staying in may seem normal, there’s a force field surrounding it that Dani stumbled upon, and Illyana’s like “yeah, girl. We’re trapped. Catch up.”

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Dani undergoing treatments from Cecelia Reyes.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney

Insignificant as it might seem, the trailer features a couple of shots of the research facility Reyes is working out of. It aesthetically echoes Xavier’s school for mutants in upstate New York, but we’re meant to understand that the mutants in this movie aren’t going to be receiving proper educations. They’re all cutting their mutant teeth and learning how to wield their powers to defend themselves, but here, it’s going to be more of a matter of necessity. What’s interesting is that it appears as if the movie’s going to use Dani as both the character who’s meant to introduce us all to the cinematic versions of these classic mutant heroes, but also the first of them to realize just how much danger they’re actually in.

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Sam Guthrie in a coal mine.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney

There’s a brief Sam-oriented sequence that takes place in a mine, suggesting that at some point in the movie there will be a flashback to a moment in the boy’s life when his powers misfired and led to a collapse that killed dozens of people, and the moment is echoed with shots of Rahne sobbing in a cemetery full of modest graves. The trailer implies that most of the New Mutants have killed people because of their powers, and they’re all haunted by the fact that they’re potentially dangerous.

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Rahne being attacked by the Demon Bear.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney

Though the movie could easily just have been a case study in disturbed young people, the trailer makes it abundantly clear that Marvel Comics’ Demon Bear (a psionic entity haunting Dani) is very much going to be part of the story and the thing that ultimately gets all of the New Mutants to realize they’re stronger (and more likely to survive) together as a unit. Even though Rahne’s in what appears to be a dream recollection of her past, the bear comes crashing into a church vestibule with every intention of killing her, which is precisely the kind of scary nonsense you’d want from an X-Men horror pic.

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The New Mutants becoming a team and demonstrating their powers.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney

But, this is an X-Men movie, and in its final moments, the trailer leans very heavily into that with some choice shots of Sunspot, Cannonball, and Magik all wielding their powers with an air that says “listen, if we’re all going to die, we’re going to go down being a bunch of superpowered badasses,” which is the most choice of moods.

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Considering how complicated and tricky Illyana’s powers are in Marvel’s comics, you wouldn’t expect to see her full-on manifesting her Soulsword onscreen so quickly, and yet here we are, and the implication is that she won’t just be a mere teleporter here.

Magik getting ready to fight a bear.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Disney
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What’s most interesting about this whole trailer is that it’s setting up both Dani and Illyana to be the movie’s central heroes while everyone else takes the back seat. Dani, from the looks of things, is going to be the one who’s going to alert the team to their predicament, and in what looks to be New Mutants’ big finale, Illyana’s going to go full Magik, meaning that there will be stepping discs and a whole-ass Soulsword that she’ll wield against Demon Bear in an epic battle.

The New Mutants could very well end up being a Fox-branded flop in the same way Dark Phoenix was, but something about this trailer—namely its distinctly non-superhero vibe—makes it appear as if it’s going to be one hell of a ride when it hits theaters on April 3.

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About the author

Charles Pulliam-Moore

io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.