Cecilia Reyes. That's not a name that will be familiar to most #XMen fans, and yet, the character finally seems to be making her movie debut! According to Variety, Cecilia will be acting as mentor to the next generation of X-Men, with Alice Braga taking the part. But who is Cecilia Reyes? And why might Fox choose to use this character?
Cecilia Reyes: The X-Woman For A Day
Created by Scott Lobdell and Carlos Pacheco in 1997, Cecilia Reyes was a Puerto Rican mutant who was born in the Bronx. Her father was killed in a drive-by shooting when Cecilia was only six years old, and she dedicated her life to becoming a doctor. She never let go of that dream, and became an incredibly accomplished doctor —but one day, she developed mutant abilities. Cecilia's body generated a bioplasmic force-field around her, protecting her from harm; it surrounds her body at every second, completely invisible until triggered by a threat.
Charles Xavier offered Cecilia a chance to join the X-Men, and she turned him down, instead asking Xavier to keep her mutant powers secret. Cecilia had already established her dream career as a doctor, and she considered saving lives to be a more valuable skill than any mutant gift. Unfortunately, three years later mutant-hunting Sentinels launched an attack on Cecilia while she was working at Our Mother of Mercy Hospital in South Bronx, and her secret became public knowledge. She was rescued by Iceman, and became an unwilling member of the X-Men.
Cecilia's brief time with the X-Men was troubled, not least because she was forced to use a street drug called Rave to enhance her powers while on the run from a race known as the Neo. The X-Men rescued her, and Xavier helped Cecilia to overcome her developing addiction to Rave. Still, the experience was traumatic enough to make Cecilia once again distance herself from the X-Men - and she once again became a target.
Cecilia was captured by the Weapon X program, and imprisoned in a mutant concentration camp known as Neverland. She was actually one of the few mutants to survive Neverland; Weapon X kept her alive because her knowledge as a physician was useful to them. She vanished for years, ultimately resurfacing as an unregistered physician in New York. To this day, she's still the X-Men's go-to-girl when they need medical help.
Why On Earth Would Fox Use Cecilia Reyes?
The X-Men aren't just supposed to be superheroes; they represent an ideal. Specifically, the X-Men stand in support of Xavier's Dream: a vision of mutant / human coexistence. Cecilia Reyes is perhaps the ultimate example of this dream; a mutant who doesn't want to be a superhero, but instead wants to live an ordinary life. It's not her force-fields that make Cecilia Reyes remarkable; it's her skill as a physician. Even at the Neverland camp, it was Cecilia's medical training that kept her alive.
It's possible that Josh Boone's New Mutants is deviating a little from the comics, in that Xavier's School isn't just going to be about training the next generation of X-Men. If Cecilia Reyes is involved, then it's possible that the school is all about teaching young mutants how to live an ordinary life in spite of their extraordinary abilities. That challenge has always been at the center of Cecilia's character, so she'd be a perfect choice for such a teacher.
When we first learned of the New Mutants film, we expected the teacher to be James McAvoy's Charles Xavier or Alexandra Shipp's Storm. But these two characters have too much history behind them; they'd necessarily begin to dominate the plot. What's more, their power-levels are off the charts, and they'd always be on hand as a massive resource whenever the teenagers are threatened. In contrast, Cecilia Reyes's power is far less flashy, and more of a defensive ability. That means the New Mutants themselves will be forced to take center-stage against the threat of the Demon Bear — just as they should be.
I can't pretend I expected to see Cecilia Reyes make her cinematic debut in New Mutants; frankly, the character has never been associated with the concept before. At the same time, though, I can easily see the logic behind it; using Cecilia Reyes ensures that the spotlight is on the teenagers themselves, and personally I couldn't be happier about that.
Do you think Cecilia Reyes would be the right choice to mentor the New Mutants?
(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)