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The Ending Of The New Mutants Explained

With the Fox X-Men franchise coming to an end with The New Mutants, which was originally slated for release in 2017 but instead wound up stumbling into theaters in the middle of a pandemic in 2020, the conclusion to the mutant-populated franchise may not be what anyone had planned, but it still more or less works. The New Mutants tells the tale of a group of five teenage mutants with newly discovered powers (hence the title) who are being kept in a treatment facility after each of them inadvertently(ish) killed someone.

Of course, this being the first real foray into horror for a Marvel-affiliated film, nothing in The New Mutants is entirely as it seems at first, from the characters to the facility itself. And while many of the mysteries of Milbury Hospital and its inhabitants are resolved by the end of the story, it's understandable if you still have some questions even after the dust has settled. While not every question raised by The New Mutants has a clear answer, the movie at least attempts to address the biggest ones. Below, we'll dig into what exactly happens at the end of The New Mutants.

What are Dani's powers?

At the center of the story of The New Mutants is Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), who came to Milbury after a mysterious force wiped out the other residents of her reservation — including her father — at the beginning of the film. The lone survivor, Dani eventually learned it was actually her own subconscious mutant powers that conjured the monster that attacked her home. Although she didn't realize she was a mutant, it turns out that Dani possesses the ability to physically manifest fears — including her own. That's what happened on her reservation: Dani subconsciously created a giant, destructive demon bear — who had symbolized fear for her since early childhood — while she slept, and it killed everyone in its path.

But Dani's powers don't appear to stop at simply bringing people's fears to life. At one point, she actually transforms herself into Illyana's (Anya Taylor-Joy) greatest fear in order to halt her attack. At another, her powers allow her to glimpse the Transigen facility from Logan by touching Reyes, although it's unclear if she's viewing one of Reyes' memories, glimpsing the future, or simply seeing the activities of the company Reyes is working for. That piece of her power remains an anomaly by the end of the film, but the rest remains in line with her ability in the comics to not only manifest people's fears, but control and manipulate them as well.

How do Illyana's powers work?

Arguably the most powerful of the new mutants, Illyana Rasputin first demonstrates the ability to teleport when she disappears before Dani can attack her. But later we see that Illyana's powers extend far beyond mere teleportation. It eventually becomes clear that she isn't simply blinking from one place to another when she teleports, but is actually accessing an alternate dimension called Limbo, which she can use to instantly travel from one place to another.

Illyana also is able to coat her right arm in armor, which she uses to wield a magical glowing sword. In the comics, her armor is known as Eldritch armor, and her weapon is called the Soulsword, although neither are ever given a name in the movie. Additionally, she possesses other magical powers she gained in Limbo, including the ability to bring her stuffed toy dragon, Lockheed, to life. In the comics, Illyana is a powerful sorceress, and while The New Mutants doesn't indicate that she's achieved her full potential quite yet, it's safe to assume that what we see of her abilities is far from the extent she's capable of.

How did the other four kids come to be at Milbury Hospital?

The only character whose arrival at Milbury is portrayed in The New Mutants is Dani, who is brought to the facility while unconscious after killing the residents of her reservation. The others are all already there when she arrives, and appear to have been there for some time. As we get to know them, we learn that each of them is responsible for one or more murders — most accidental, some... not so much.

Illyana killed 18 of the men who abused her as a child. Sam (Charlie Heaton) panicked due to claustrophobia in the mine where his father worked, and caused a cave-in that killed everyone there. Roberto (Henry Zaga) lost control while with his girlfriend, and accidentally burned her to death. And Rahne (Maisie Williams) transformed into her wolf state in order to defend herself from the preacher who tried to beat her mutation out of her, and wound up killing him.

Afterward, each of them was sent to Milbury, ostensibly to help them cope with what they'd done, and also teach them to control their powers. It's never clarified whether it's the kids' families sending them to Milbury, or the police, or some other agency. What we do know is that none of the kids seemed to see anything amiss about their presence at Milbury until Dani showed up, nor did they suspect anything was wrong with the "treatment" Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga) was administering. They may not have loved being there, but they all thought it was the right place for them.

Why were the kids really being held in Milbury Hospital?

Of course, as eventually becomes clear in The New Mutants, Dani and the others aren't being treated by Reyes in the hopes that they will get better and possibly even someday, if they do well enough, go join the X-Men. Although several of the kids seem to harbor hopes that they're receiving training that will eventually lead to them becoming heroes, the opposite turns out to be true. In actuality, the residents of Milbury have each been chosen based on their proven capacity for violence, so Reyes can evaluate whether they can be honed as weapons.

We ultimately find out that Reyes works for the Essex Corporation, which — although he's not explicitly named in the film — comics readers will know is run by the supervillain Mister Sinister. Rather than trying to help her young charges heal and embrace their heroic potential, Reyes is sizing them up to see if they'll be good tools for Mister Sinister and his (forever unknown) evil master plan. As Illyana succinctly points out, they're being shaped into killers. Fortunately, Reyes' plan is never able to come to fruition, and the new mutants escape with their heroic ambitions more or less intact.

What is the Essex Corporation?

For viewers who haven't been paying close attention to all of the movies within the X-Men universe, the reveal that Reyes is working for the Essex Corporation may not have held a lot of meaning. But this actually isn't the first time we've seen Essex in the X-verse. The shady organization previously showed up in the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse, when a team of men showed up to retrieve a vial of Wolverine's blood from the abandoned Weapon X facility.

This is later implied to be the blood that was used to clone Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in Logan, creating both his "daughter," Laura (Dafne Keen), as well as his enhanced, rage-filled doppelgänger, X-24. Of course, within the context of Logan, Laura's creation was overseen by the Transigen Corporation, but since it was Essex that retrieved the blood, we can safely assume that Essex and Transigen are at least closely linked, if not the same entity.

In a world where the Disney purchase of Fox didn't happen and the X-Men franchise was allowed to keep chugging along down its original path, all of these Essex hints would've eventually led up to Mister Sinister emerging as the main villain of the Gambit movie, and possibly becoming the Thanos-like super-threat that all of the mutants would've teamed up to defeat. But with The New Mutants closing out this incarnation of the X-Men franchise, these small teases of Essex are likely to be all we'll ever get.

What did Dani see in Reyes' mind?

For most of The New Mutants, whenever we see Dani's powers in action, they involve characters being faced with versions of their greatest fears. Sam sees the mine where his father died, Roberto plays out a scenario where he burns yet another girl he is romantically interested in, Rahne is attacked by the priest who branded her a demon, and Illyana is chased around Milbury by the Smiley Men who tormented her as a child. The one notable exception to Dani's powers accessing the fears of those around her comes when she touches Dr. Reyes, and sees a vision of superpowered children seeming to fight back in some sort of medical research facility.

The imagery was likely immediately familiar to anyone who has seen 2017's Logan. In that film, the young girl who comes to Logan for help escaped from a facility where genetically engineered mutant children were being trained as weapons for the Transigen Corporation. We see what this facility looks like in video footage that was smuggled out of the facility by Laura's caretaker. This same footage is what Dani sees in her vision in The New Mutants, meaning that somehow, Dani's contact with Reyes allowed her to glimpse the Transigen experiments. It's never made clear precisely how Dani's powers allowed her to do this, but it seems likely that if the X-Men franchise had continued, we would've eventually seen a more explicit connection drawn between the Milbury teens in The New Mutants and the children who escaped from Transigen in Logan.

Who was Reyes' superior?

When Dr. Reyes is guiding the teens under her care in group therapy and mediation under the guise of aiding in their recovery, she often refers to an unnamed "superior" who is overseeing her actions at Milbury Hospital. Several of the teens think they've cracked her code, and although no one ever mentions him by name, it's made clear through thinly veiled language and gestures that Roberto, at least, believes that Reyes is working for Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men. Although some doubt that they'd ever get there, Roberto holds out hope that if they can do well enough at Milbury, that they'll eventually move on to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, where the mutant otherwise known as Professor X trains young mutants to become superheroes.

Unfortunately for all of them, Roberto is wrong, and Reyes never had any connection to Xavier after all. As a matter of fact, she's wearing a big clue to the identity of her "superior" throughout the entire film, in the shape of a pin she has on her lab coat, which nods to Mister Sinister's artwork in the comics. The most explicit that The New Mutants ever gets in identifying who Reyes' superior is? The reveal that she's working for Essex Corporation. Still, it seems pretty safe to assume the person she was actually most loyal to was Mister Sinister himself.

What was the demon bear?

In the climax of the film, right as Reyes seems to have the upper hand over each of her super-powered charges, a giant, smoke-filled demon bear bursts through the wall of the facility and eats her, freeing Dani and the others. But the teens then have to defeat the bear before it kills them all, a task which is easier said than done.

Dani explains the origins of the bear earlier in the film, in the scene in the attic, when she tells the group the story of the bear charm her father made her when she was young. He said that all people are born with a tiny bear inside them which feeds on fear, and that the more you feed it, the bigger it gets. He gave her the charm to remind her how small the bear was when she was born. As Dani grows older, it's safe to assume that this bear became how Dani envisioned her own fear, making it what she manifested once her powers developed.

While Dani spends most of the film unaware of how her powers are fueling the bear, to the point where she doesn't realize that she was the one who caused the attack on her reservation at the beginning of the film, by the end, she learns to control it. She tells the bear there's nothing to be afraid of, and it in turn stops its attack and fades away. Presumably, from this point on, Dani should have more control over the bear, and will possibly even be able to summon and command it at will.

Did The New Mutants have ties to any other X-Men movies?

While The New Mutants wound up being the last of Fox's X-Men movies to make it into theaters, it was originally intended as part of a much bigger picture, and as such, includes some Easter eggs that tie it to other X-Men movies. The most obvious is the vision Dani sees of the Transigen facility from Logan, drawing a direct link between whatever Reyes is doing with the teens at Milbury and the experiments being done on the mutant children in Logan. But there are also subtler nods to other X-Men films in The New Mutants.

The Essex Corporation which Reyes works for was also seen at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, which was intended to directly set up the cloning plots that drive Logan. But Essex also provides another, less expected tie from The New Mutants to the greater X-Men universe. In Deadpool 2, the orphanage where two of its main characters are raised is called the Essex Home for Mutant Rehabilitation, hinting that Milbury may not be the only facility of its type that Mister Sinister is running. What's more, although The New Mutants never comes out and says it, in the comics, Illyana Rasputin is the younger sister of Peter Rasputin, who appears in the Deadpool movies as Colossus. But whether Fox ever intended to make their comics relationship canon in its film universe, we'll never know.

What's ahead for the New Mutants?

At the end of The New Mutants, Dr. Reyes is defeated and Milbury Hospital is largely rubble, and the five teenage mutants set off into the unknown together. The movie never tells us where they plan on going beyond an unnamed town that may or may not be 20 miles away, but it seems safe to assume that they'll stick together, wherever they go. But whether the original plan was for them to head to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in New York or to head off in a different direction we'll never know, since the franchise is now dead in the water.

However, there may yet be a glimmer of hope for the New Mutants to return, albeit in a pretty unexpected and unlikely way. With news breaking that Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool may actually be headed to the MCU, that could leave the door open for other characters from Fox's X-Men franchise to cross over too. The New Mutants could possibly even have a better shot at making the jump than the classic X-Men, which Disney will almost certainly want to recast in order to distance the MCU's take on the characters from Fox's. The ties set up to Deadpool 2 in The New Mutants leave the possibility open that Illyana could potentially try to seek out her superhero brother now that she's free, bringing her new friends along for the ride. Is it likely? Probably not, but it would certainly be interesting.