Creating a great movie trailer is an underappreciated art. A good trailer can supercharge excitement for a film, while a bad one can spark conversation around a film in all the wrong ways.
And then there’s the preview that disappoints not because it makes the film look bad, but because it seems to give too much away — like the latest sneak peek at the long-delayed X_Men spinoff The New Mutants that was unveiled during the film’s Comic-Con@Home panel.
The troubled saga of The New Mutants is old news at this point, with multiple years of delays, reshoots, and studio drama making the constantly shifting release date for the 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios) film a running joke around Hollywood. Given that messy timeline, any update on the film — particularly one accompanied by fresh footage — feels like a win for those of us who have been looking forward to it since the project was first announced back in 2015.
But wins have been hard to come by for The New Mutants, and the latest preview is no exception to that frustrating trend.
During the Thursday panel for the film, writer and director Josh Boone was joined by the cast of the film to promote its impending August 28 premiere, which new studio owner Disney is apparently standing by, and talk about the long, strange trip the film has had to the screen. The conversation was an interesting, entertaining one, and made it all too obvious that everyone involved wants to see the film finally get released in one way or another (in some cases, so they can get stop getting asked about it).
At the end of the Comic-Con panel, the opening scene of The New Mutants was shown (around the 24:20 mark in the video above), along with a compilation of clips from the movie that showcased each of the lead characters and their powers. There was also a look at the sinister creatures they battle in the film, both big and small. The montage ended with a shot of Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, Illyana Rasputin, leaping into battle against what is expected (and widely reported) to be the film’s biggest, baddest villain: A massive “demon bear.”
It has all the makings of a spectacular scene, and exactly the sort of moment that audiences shouldn’t have spoiled for them ahead of time.
Early in the film’s development, there was no shortage of buzz around The New Mutants, which seemed destined to take the tired X-Men franchise in new directions in much the same way as Deadpool and Logan, which each made Marvel Comics’ mutants feel fresh and full of storytelling potential in their own ways. Where Deadpool was a raunchy, self-aware action-comedy and Logan was a superpowered spin on classic Western drama, The New Mutants was framed as a true horror film, complete with a cast of young characters trapped in a mysterious facility and tormented by terrifying threats.
After more than three years of the studio releasing promotional images and footage from the film to remind fans that it existed, though, those threats don’t feel as terrifying or mysterious — and even less so after many of them were revealed in the film’s Comic-Con footage.
Until this point, many of the terrors hiding in the dark of The New Mutants were exactly that: Hidden. But this new footage puts them all out there for streaming audiences’ screen-capping, shot-dissecting pleasure, ensuring that fans will likely know all there is to know about them before the film eventually (and hopefully) premieres. They’ll be old news before they can get scary, and that’s a bit of a bummer.
Given everything that’s happened with The New Mutants so far, the film has little to lose by keeping some of its secrets and preserving the unconfirmed plot points — and rumors — that remain.
Rather than run the risk of spoiling a film that’s required more than five years of patience from fans to get to this point, The New Mutants marketing campaign would be well-served to spend whatever time remains between now and when the film debuts treating it like the horror movie it aspires to be. The best horror movies keep their monsters hidden as long as possible, teasing them out in one frightening hint after another until they reveal themselves.
Here’s hoping The New Mutants has more to offer — and scare — audiences with than what appears in the footage that’s been released so far. The last thing anyone wants after five years of waiting for The New Mutants is for the movie’s best elements to feel, well … old.
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