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The Darkest Minds offers illuminating message at Comic-Con panel

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Jul 21, 2018, 7:53 PM EDT (Updated)

After a first trailer that set the stage and a follow-up clip really selling the romance, The Darkest Minds has been causing quite a stir among genre and YA fans alike. Mixing the superpowers of the X-Men with the post-apocalypse of The Hunger Games, the movie adapts Alexandra Bracken's 2012 novel into something that looks like it could truly be the next big thing.

Finding romance in the wake of a debilitating illness is one thing, surviving with the superpowers it granted is quite another. When the cast and director of the new Fox sci-fi thriller The Darkest Minds assembled in a conference room at San Diego Convention Center during San Diego Comic-Con to discuss their adaptation of Alexandra Bracken's Y/A novel and drop some new footage from the film, we were elated to learn more about the genre-bending film.

Conveniently, Bracken herself served as the moderator of the panel, which kicked off with a clip from the film (glimpsed also in the trailers) in which the group of gifted children on the run from the government must use their powers to derail the pursuers who are hot on their heels.

The car chase sequence on a country road climaxes with Liam (Harris Dickinson) using his abilities to hurl their pursuers' cars off the road by summoning up a ferocious windstorm. Check it out below:

Dickinson, Skylan Brooks (Chubs), Miya Cech (Suzume), Amandla Stenberg (Ruby) and director Jennifer Yuh Nelson all joined Bracken onstage to discuss their characters and making the jump from the page to the screen.

Stenberg's character is the protagonist of the piece, a 16-year-old girl who is one of the two percent of kids under 20 who survive a global pandemic. But when that two percent develop incredible psychic powers, they are placed in internment camps by the government. "She struggles with her own powers," said Stenberg. "She's afraid of herself and the capabilities she has."

The Darkest Minds (based on the first in a series of six books, has a central concept that's similar in some ways to another Fox property, the X-Men. "A lot of the allegory in this film is about people facing aspects of themselves that are new," said Nelson, adding that anyone can relate to that idea.

"It's about owning them and understanding that this is what makes you unique and gives you value," she continued. "That positivity and that acceptance is such a good lesson."

The Darkest Minds is Nelson's live-action directorial debut after helming the animated Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 (which made her the first woman to ever solely direct an animated feature for a Hollywood studio). She was asked by an audience member what the difference was in directing her first live-action film.

"The pre-production is identical," she said, listing scripting, storyboarding and other aspects as being the same for both styles. "What was challenging was the physicality of actually shooting. But when you work on a set with 300 people running around with flamethrowers and stuff, it's pretty exciting."

Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson made quite a mark with the Kung Fu Panda series and her turn to live-action looks nothing but promising.

We’ll know for sure when The Darkest Minds hits theaters on Aug. 3.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage SDCC 2018, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.

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