Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Mirage

For a superhero, super powers matter, but character matters more. Danielle Moonstar, aka Mirage of the New Mutants, is a perfect example. Like the other mutants in Marvel Comics, Mirage is born with incredible abilities, but it's Dani's leadership skills and tenacity that make her such an important asset to teams like the New Mutants and later X-Force and the X-Men.  

Originally calling herself Psyche but eventually renaming herself Mirage, Danielle is more often referred to her by her nickname "Dani" these days. Dani has diverse powers and not all of them come from her mutant birth. Like the rest of the New Mutants, Dani's been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, and one of those trips leaves a deep mark on the character, making her one of the more unique mutant heroes in Marvel.

As a New Mutant and more, she's fought for the rights of mutants, and sometimes she's gone down the road less traveled by to do it. For more about one of the founding members of the New Mutants and one of the few Native American superheroes in comics and movies, keep reading for the untold truth of Mirage.

Mirage was one of the first New Mutants

Dani is one of the five founding mutants to first appear in 1982's original graphic novel The New Mutants. Ironically, considering she would eventually be one of the team's leaders, Dani is initially the least cooperative of Professor X's recruits. 

We meet Dani in the mountains of Colorado with her mountain lion friend Ridge-Runner. When Dani's grandfather Black Eagle shows up, urging Dani to become Professor X's student, Dani angrily refuses. A Native American and member of the Cheyenne who's well aware of the betrayals her people have suffered, Dani is distrustful of those outside the tribe. But Black Eagle insists, telling Dani that Xavier served in the Army with her father and became his blood brother. We soon learn Black Eagle has already sent a letter to Professor X, and he, Wolfsbane, and Karma show up in time to save Dani from the mutant-hunting forces of Donald Pierce, though sadly by that time, the bad guys have already killed Black Eagle and Ridge-Runner. Dani agrees to help Xavier and his students but only to get vengeance on Pierce. 

By the end of that first story, Dani begins forging friendships with the other New Mutants. She uses her powers to help save Roberto da Costa (aka Sunspot) from the Hellfire thugs who murdered his girlfriend, and in the final battle, she lets go of her chance to get revenge on Pierce in order to help save the wounded Wolfsbane. 

She was the first New Mutant to defeat the Danger Room

In 1983's New Mutants #1, Dani doesn't feel much more positive about being Professor X's student than she did in the New Mutants graphic novel that introduced the team. After unwittingly using her powers to produce horrific images from the past of her teammate Karma — and Karma subsequently attacking her for it — Dani is shaken and full of self-doubt. She wanders through X-Men mansion, lamenting that even though she was promised Xavier would teach her to control her abilities, "all Xavier's done is give me a stupid costume, and make my life miserable."

So it shouldn't be too surprising how terrified Dani is at the prospect of being tested in the Danger Room — a high-tech training room that includes automated opponents. One-by-one, Dani's teammates enter the Danger Room, and each fails in their appointed tasks, though they all remain unharmed. In spite of her teammates remaining safe, Dani is convinced entering the Danger Room will mean her death, and she runs from the mansion before it's her turn

After a heart-to-heart with Wolfsbane, Dani works up the courage to take on the same test her teammates faced. Even though her powers can't help her, Dani calls upon her agility and speed she's learned spending so much time in the mountains of Colorado and evades the robots to reach her goal, proving to be the first New Mutant to get the better of the Danger Room. 

Mirage has a special connection with Wolfsbane

It's understandable, considering the code name Mirage, that one of Dani's lesser-known mutant attributes manifests as her empathic connection to animals. With it, she can sense the thoughts and feelings of all sorts of creatures, sometimes going so far as seeing through their eyes. In fact, we see her exhibiting this power before we see an example of her other mutant gifts. In the New Mutants graphic novel, we first meet Dani in the mountains in Colorado where a meditative interlude is interrupted by the arrival of Ridge-Runner, a wild mountain lion who greets her with as much affection as a house cat. The narration lets us know she senses the cat's contented thoughts. Sadly, the mountain lion eventually sacrifices himself trying to protect Dani.

It's because of this ability that Dani shares a telepathic link with her friend and teammate Rahne (aka Wolfsbane) who has powers that mimic those of a werewolf. As early as their first shared appearance, Dani proves to have a stronger connection with Rahne than her other new teammates, communicating with Wolfsbane while she's in wolf form and later sacrificing the chance to have the vengeance she craves so she can help save Rahne. The link helps Dani calm Rahne down during episodes when her savagery takes over, such as in 2004's New Mutants #12, in the aftermath of Rahne mauling the young mutant Elixir after they shared a passionate kiss two issues earlier.  

She's linked to the Demon Bear

The New Mutants don't have a lot of villains specific to them. Most of what you might call their rogues' gallery is culled from the larger X-Men mythos. But one notable and horrifying exception is the Demon Bear, whose introduction to New Mutants marks a wonderful new visual era for the team's stories.

Chris Claremont — longtime X-Men writer and co-creator of the New Mutants — is known for, among other things, dropping hints towards future stories and letting them simmer for a while before bringing them center stage. The Demon Bear is a perfect example of this, as he makes an appearance in Dani's dreams in 1983's New Mutants #3 but doesn't strike until the end of 1984's New Mutants #17. (The following issue also introduces Bill Sienkiewicz as an artist whose unique visual style makes the following two years' of New Mutants stories some of the most memorable of any of their series.)

The Demon Bear is a dark, powerful spirit from a dimension called the Badlands who feeds on its victims negative emotions. Before she joins the New Mutants, Dani believes her parents were killed by this bear, but at the end of New Mutants #20, Dani is tearfully reunited with her parents who were enslaved and transformed into the Demon Bear itself. When they're separated from Demon Bear by Magik's Soulsword, Dani believes her war with the spirit is over. Unfortunately, the Demon Bear returns in multiple volumes of X-Force to haunt Mirage. 

Mirage is a leader of the New Mutants

When the New Mutants are formed, they're students of Professor X. Eventually, Xavier surprisingly puts a temporarily reformed Magneto in charge of his iconic school. But in the field and in the Danger Room, Mirage shares leadership with Sam Guthrie (aka Cannonball). 

In spite of the irony that Dani is perhaps the most rebellious member of the team when it first forms, she proves to be a natural leader and the team's backbone. While her powers aren't always the most obviously useful gifts during battle, rather than hindering her leadership, it helps her. Just as she's the first of the New Mutants to defeat the Danger Room in New Mutants #1, her lack of more offensive abilities forces her to become one of the most resourceful and creative members of the team. 

Dani's a much-needed guiding hand for the New Mutants, particularly in the late-'80s era of the group. In the 1988 line-wide event Fall of the Mutants, Doug Ramsey (aka Cypher) is murdered and his death drives a wedge between the New Mutants and their headmaster, Magneto. The New Mutants need Dani more than ever during this time, and even moreso after the following year's Uncanny X-Men #253, when Magneto leaves the school for good to return to a more villainous career.

Her powers have limitless potential

When we first meet Mirage, her powers are relatively limited. Along with her animal empathy, Dani initially has the ability to create 3D images based on someone's greatest fear. For example, when Dani helps the New Mutants save Sunspot from the Hellfire thugs, some of those thugs have felt the claws of Wolverine in the past, so Dani pulls the picture of Logan from their mind and projects his image, making them think he's attacking them again. But that's it. She can't, for example, just create any random image that she imagines. 

However, under Professor X's tutelage, the boundaries of Dani's powers expand. In 1983's New Mutants #4, Dani shows she can manifest the image of someone's greatest desire when she pulls from a teen boy's mind the image of him passionately kissing the teacher he has a crush on. Eventually, she's able to empathically produce images besides those connected to such extreme emotions. She also learns a much more offensive use for her powers. Dani can focus her psychic energy into so-called "psychic arrows." Appearing as arrows of energy or fire, the missile weapons can mentally stun her targets or even cause them to relive past trauma. 

In spite of her powers being based in the thoughts and feelings of others, Mirage can't read minds. Her animal empathy, however, does afford her a degree of telepathy when it comes to beasts or part-beasts like her friend Wolfsbane. 

She has a powerful connection to Asgard

While most people associate Asgard with character like Thor, the otherworldly realm is also linked to characters outside of Marvel's Norse mythology. For example, a fan-favorite X-Men/New Mutants crossover from 1985 called "The Asgardian Wars" has some huge impacts on the X-mythos, particularly when it comes to Mirage.

In league with Loki, the Enchantress transports the New Mutants to different parts of the Ten Realms, and Dani finds herself in Valhalla, home of the honored dead. While there, she saves a winged horse from a group of hunters, and that act has more consequences than she imagines. Likely due to her empathic powers, Dani bonds with the horse whom she names Brightwind, and that bond makes makes her part of the Valkyrior — Hela's Valkyries whose task, in ancient Norse myth, was to choose who would die on the battlefield. While most of her teammates notice nothing different about her at first, the Asgardians are visibly intimidated by her, and the alien Warlock attacks her when he first sees her. While she returns to Earth at the end of the crossover, she retains her connection to the Valkyrie and brings Brightwind home with her. 

One of the results of her connection to the Valkyrior is that Mirage suffers premonitions when someone is about to die, in the form death spirits only she can see hovering over the victim. Combining her mutant abilities with her Valkyrie powers, she can also create a Cheyenne ghost staff she's been able to use against death entities such as Hela. 

She was briefly a secret agent

Toward the end of the first New Mutants ongoing series, Dani falls under the control of the Asgardian death goddess Hela. After that conflict is over and Mirage regains control of herself, she chooses to stay in Asgard to help clean up the mess she helped make. And while she's on Asgard, most of the remaining members of New Mutants form X-Force under the leadership of Cable, and the next time they see Dani, they think she's gone bad. But things are not as they seem.

A masked Dani reunites with her old friends in 1993's X-Force #27 but not to hang out and shoot the breeze. Calling herself Moonstar and renaming her horse to Darkwind, Dani fights X-Force alongside her new teammates in the Mutant Liberation Front (MLF). And she announces her presence on the battlefield by shooting one of her psychic arrows into the head of her old co-leader, Cannonball.

Four years later, at the end of X-Force #66, we learn it's all been a ruse. See, when she returned to Earth, Dani was recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. as a deep cover agent inside the MLF. And she finally shows her true colors in X-Force #67 when she turns on the Mutant Liberation Front, joining the ranks of X-Force soon afterwards. 

Mirage was a victim of M-Day

In the penultimate issue of the 2005 miniseries House of M, Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) becomes most other mutants' least favorite hero by stripping many of the world's mutants of their powers. Doctor Strange manages to shield a mere 198 mutants from Wanda's wrath so that they keep their abilities, but Mirage is not one of them. 

In New X-Men #20, Emma Frost unceremoniously sends Mirage home along with the other de-powered teachers and students, but Dani doesn't sit around twiddling her thumbs. In the wake of 2006's line-wide event Civil War, Dani is recruited to help train a new generation of heroes in Avengers: The Initiative, but she's eventually shown the door when she proves more interested in helping the young hero Trauma use his powers in a way that helps him rather than turning him into a weapon for the government. She would later teach younger mutants in the pages of Young X-Men

With her experience, as well as her Valkyrie abilities (which she loses and regains), Dani remains an asset to the X-Men and other Marvel heroes. However, she doesn't regain her mutant powers until 2019's Uncanny X-Men #15. Earlier in that series, it's discovered that Dani and other mutants are infected with the alien Transmode virus and used as government weapons. But when Dark Beast — an alternate reality version of Hank McCoy — figures out a cure for Mirage and the others infected, Dani's mutant abilities return.

She's a New Mutant once more

The 2019-20 Marvel Comics line-wide event Dawn of X completely revamps the X-franchise. Now almost all of the mutants — good, evil, and everything in between — who can live on the sentient island of Krakoa where Professor X, Magneto, and other mutant leaders have built a new utopia. As part of the event, a number of old titles have a new lease on life, including New Mutants

In 2019's New Mutants #1, the old team reforms with most of its classic members, as well as adding newer members Chamber and Mondo. Dani is once again part of the team, though as of the writing of this article — in late January 2020 — it isn't clear if Dani will once again assume a leadership role. After all, Magik is one of Krakoa's captains, Cypher is on the mutant nation's governing body (the so-called Quiet Council), and Sunspot has led a couple of teams of Avengers since his last time with the New Mutants. So if Dani wants to be a team leader, she may have some competition. Regardless, it's safe to assume Mirage is happy to be back with her old teammates again, particularly with her dear friend Wolfsbane. Rahne died from a brutal beating in 2019's Uncanny X-Men #17, but resurrecting mutants is one of the miracles of Krakoa, and New Mutants #1 opens with Rahne's return to the living. 

Mirage makes her big screen debut in The New Mutants

In 2020, Dani Moonstar makes her big screen debut through the talents of Blu Hunt in the The New Mutants. The superhero/hybrid horror film was originally to hit theaters in April 2018, but it suffered a number of delays until finally winning the firm release date of April 3, 2020.

And Dani's cinematic meeting with her fellow New Mutants is depicted differently than in the comics. Rather than being recruited by Professor X, Dani is brought to a secret facility where she's both a patient and prisoner. Here, Mirage and the other mutants — Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga), and Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) — are threatened by supernatural forces at the facility, and rather than seeking to save the world like most movie superheroes, they're struggling simply to save their own lives. 

You may know Hunt better as the witch Inadu on the Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals or as the engineer August Catawnee on Netflix's sci-fi drama Another Life. Speaking to WWD in 2019, Hunt said that "representing her indigenous heritage" is one of the young actor's biggest goals, and she called Dani Moonstar "a really, really good depiction of what it's like to be a young Native girl now."