2018 will be a big year for superhero fans. Not only are we celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Infinity War, but we're also set to see Fox release three X-Men movies! With so many superhero films on the horizon, how does Fox aim to make sure each movie stands out from the crowd? Speaking to Variety, Stacey Snider (chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox) explained just how they're ensuring next year's New Mutants is unique.
Superheroes Go Horror
As Snider notes, the future of the X-Men franchise doesn't just lie with the tentpole movies like next year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix. No, it lies with a far more diverse range of concepts and characters. Already Deadpool has opened the way for raucous R-rated comedy, and Logan showed us a brutal, bloody Western. New Mutants explores another genre, blending superheroes with horror. As Snider explained:
"'New Mutants' is about these teenagers who are just coming into their powers. It’s like watching mutants go through adolescence and they have no impulse control, so they’re dangerous. The only solution is to put them in a 'Breakfast Club' detention/'Cuckoo’s Nest' institutional setting. It protects the people on the outside, but it’s strange and combustible inside. The genre is like a haunted-house movie with a bunch of hormonal teenagers. We haven’t seen it as a superhero movie whose genre is more like 'The Shining' than 'we’re teenagers let’s save the world.'"
It's worth noting that the last sentence seems a little garbled, and runs counter to the rest of the quote. It seems likely Snider meant to say something along the lines of, "We haven't yet seen a superhero movie whose genre is more like The Shining than 'we're teenagers let's save the world.'"
These Kids Simply Aren't Safe
Conceptually, this is fascinating, with Fox aiming to make a superhero film influenced by movies like Breakfast Club and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's an intriguing notion: A bunch of super-powered teenagers who essentially have to be restrained for their own safety, with Alice Braga's Cecilia Reyes acting as mentor figure. She's a mutant who has the power to generate a protective force-field around herself, so it makes sense for Reyes to be the one who looks after these "strange and combustible" young mutants.
It's a smart concept, and realistically it's only one step up from the classic New Mutants comics. There, the kids were students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, an isolated building in New York where they trained in the use of their powers. Fox has upped the ante a little, explaining that these mutants are essentially "institutionalized" because they aren't safe.
Given this is the case, we should expect all kinds of fireworks from an all-star cast. Charlie Heaton's Cannonball should be hot-tempered and impulsive, every bit a human cannonball. Maisie Williams's Wolfsbane will likely be battling with her animal instincts. And will we get a glimpse of the sinister, semi-demonic intensity of Anya Taylor-Joy's Magik?
A Haunted House Plot
Josh Boone grew up as a comic book fan, and he pieced his plot together from actual comic book panels. He's taken inspiration from a classic New Mutants story, "The Demon Bear Saga," which definitely sets up some powerful horror tropes. Running from New Mutants #18 through #20, "The Demon Bear Saga" saw the kids stalked by a powerful astral force with ties to Blu Hunt's Dani Moonstar. Bill Sienkiewicz's stunning, atmospheric art created a dark and sinister story that's perfectly suited to be adapted into a horror film.
The leaked New Mutants animatic showed a scene clearly inspired by #19, with the New Mutants struggling to protect a badly injured Dani. Where the original "Demon Bear Saga" saw the team make their final stand in a hospital, Boone has simplified the plot by having this battle take place in the institution. It's a smart move, and should help create a sense of claustrophobic tension in the plot.
Fox is putting enormous effort into ensuring that their #XMen spinoffs are different to any other superhero film out there. New Mutants promises to open up a whole new genre of superhero action, one that seamlessly blends a remarkably comic book-accurate concept with a plot filled with classic horror tropes. The result looks set to be one of the most promising superhero movies of the year.
Which of 2018's X-Men films are you most excited about?