Wow, they really did it. Fox really made The New Mutants into an X-Men horror movie.
The new trailer for the film shows it all off. Creepy old hospital? Check. Terrifying mutant powers? Check. Weird experiments? Check. Scared teenagers? Big old check.
This might feel like a weird move for Fox, all things considered. After all, with X-Men: Apocalypse, it seemed like the future of the franchise was going to involve copying Marvel’s colorful aesthetic as much as possible. X-Men: Dark Phoenix similarly sounds like it’s going to be trying to be Guardians of the Galaxy, with aliens, space travel, and giant fiery bird powers.
Somewhat by accident, though, Fox has stumbled across a potential goldmine of story ideas in the form of Logan. More so than the studio’s other recent hit, Deadpool, the R-rated Wolverine cowboy film has shown that there’s a lot of potential for comic book movies that don’t even try to stay true to their origins.
Heck, as it turns out, these films don’t even need to stay in the correct genre. People are getting tired of straight superhero flicks, and throwing in a gruff Western aesthetic is a fantastic way to expand the X-Men universe so that it doesn’t feel quite so stale, while simultaneously maintaining the important brand appeal of being able to slap a Marvel logo on the front of a trailer.
This is a trend that’s being echoed throughout comic book films in general at the moment. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a superhero story crossed with The Breakfast Club (as is Power Rangers for that matter). Most of Marvel’s stuff is slowly turning into Star Wars, and DC’s Suicide Squad is an attempt at a Dirty Dozen style film with “recognizable” characters like Slipknot and Captain Boomerang.
Yeah, there’s a reason that didn’t work.
In going from the Western genre to horror, though, Fox is trying the most new different ideas. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Fox is pretty desperate to keep their longrunning comic book movie universe alive at all costs, rather than lose it to Marvel.
— 20th Century Fox (@20thcenturyfox) October 13, 2017
Making a horror movie out of the New Mutants means wildly reinterpreting the source material, but it also makes perfect sense.
After all, IT, Stranger Things, Get Out, and plenty of other recent hits suggest that audiences are really falling in love with horror as a mainstream genre in a way we haven’t seen before.
There’s something about the current state of the world that’s moved people from wanting to see overblown superhero power fantasies about rich billionaires saving the world, to watching existential horrors terrorize plucky young characters.
The specifics of this can be left up to interpretation (is it really necessary to spell it out?), but the fact remains: horror might just be the next big thing in Hollywood, especially when the characters are particularly young.
The New Mutants is coming from director Josh Boone, who’s best known for cutesy teen drama The Fault in Our Stars. Much like X-Men: Apocalypse, this movie features a tonally confused scene that’s set amid the iconography of the Holocaust, but that’s probably a coincidence.
Boone has stated from the start that this is a coming of age story, and clearly he thinks that growing up in the modern era is pretty horrific if this is the metaphor he’s going with.
By trusting Boone, Fox has inadvertently found the perfect way to breathe new life into the X-Men franchise, getting in on the ground floor of the teen horror movie bubble.
With any luck, audiences will go nuts for this, and it’ll end up not only surpassing Logan, but kicking off a whole new franchise of scary superhero stories.
Here’s hoping, then, that Fox continues to explore new genres. The upcoming Gambit movie that nobody asked for will be less egregious if it’s more of a heist film than a superhero origin story, and let’s face it, a true comic book RomCom between, say, Shadowcat and Colossus would be a very welcome change of pace.
It may be too early to start pronouncing that the X-Men franchise is saved, but if anything’s going to rescue the reputation of this hit-and-miss movie series, it’s a solid horror movie about kids gaining freaky new powers and fighting supernatural evils.