To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the new Fox X-Men based TV series, The Gifted. I didn’t even know it was on until I happened on it on cable. As an X-Men fan, I had to stop and see it through and give my thoughts.
Based on the pilot, this series has a lot going for it compared to Legion. Legion may be a critical success even among fans, but I found the series too crazy or too cerebral. Being in the mind of a guy with multiple personalities wasn’t pleasant plus the idea of Legion being in its own continuity wasn’t great either. That’s the keyword, continuity. I’ve almost had it with Fox messing up the X-Men continuity, one movie or TV show after the other. Logan and Deadpool were great as their own separate films, but I still find myself desperately reconciling their continuities with Days of Future Past. Like Legion, the problem with the Fox X-Men franchise is that it has multiple personalities. If the X-Men franchise was a person, you don’t know who you’re really talking to, and it’s difficult to care for the characters.
Rumor has it that The Gifted is set in the main X-Men Days of Future Past universe. X-Men Apocalypse was difficult to swallow because of many continuity errors and the fact that Mystique suddenly became the team leader, because, Lawrence? I get that Mystique became part of the X-Men in the comics but as the leader in the films? Apologies for not being open to new ideas, still trying to reconcile Apocalypse with the first three films where nothing was ever mentioned of Mystique being a part of the X-Men. If we’re to wrap our heads around it, it’s either the effects of time travel (DOFP) or Xavier messed with his students’ minds again (he does it). Fans can wrap their heads around the Fox X-men with great difficulty but what about the viewing public?
Rumor or not, it would be pleasant for The Gifted to be set after Days of Future Past. In this series, the X-Men and The Brotherhood have disappeared. Convenient, but okay. If Fox threw that continuity out in favor of the Lawrence timeline (X-Men: Dark Phoenix), might as well continue it here. Mutants are pursued and persecuted by the government and covertly hunted by an agency called Sentinel Services.
In The Gifted, we see a mix of old and new characters plus some unique takes on some concepts like The Sentinels. This series features X-Men staples like Thunderbird, Polaris, and Blink. The new character featured here is Marcos Diaz aka Eclipse as a mutant who can focus photons into heat. Before doing some research, I was trying to determine his comic book equivalent. Eclipse plays Polaris’ love interest. And the moment I saw Jamie Chung’s hair and eyes, I knew she was Blink. I honestly haven’t seen the first five or ten minutes of the episode but despite not seeing more mainstream mutants in action, I found the rest of the episode to be okay.
The other mutants are two teenagers named Andy and Lauren Strucker. Lauren has the power to condense air and water molecules and turn them into a bubble wrap type of force field. Sounds weird if you haven’t seen the episode but the X-Men are supposed to be weird, right? Andy meanwhile seems to have unfocused telekinesis, and there’s a scene of him playing like a gender-bent Carrie where he manifests his power in full. Also tried to work out the significance of their last name, Strucker.
Are they related to Baron Von Strucker of the MCU? They don’t seem to be, but it’s weird that their father, Reed Strucker is a district attorney whose job it is to prosecute mutants not knowing he has mutant children, until later in the episode. His role and surname struck me (no pun intended) is more like William Stryker of the X-Men film franchise. But his role is completely different and totally unrelated. He contacts the Mutant Underground to try and smuggle his family to Mexico.
The Mutant Underground is the organization that Eclipse, Thunderbird, and Polaris belong to. It would have been fun if they named it The Mutant Liberation Front to make it more mainstream, but it seems that this show is into new ideas and it’s quite welcome. This show’s take on the sentinels is quite unique. Instead if giant mutant-hunting robots, they’re more like a combination of child protection services and the Men in Black.
Just humans with gadgets and small mutant hunting spider-like robots that seem to be able to adapt to mutant powers. The show also centers on a government and/or a society that hates mutants which is what the X-Men are all about. It’s even mentioned in the show that people get hurt whenever mutant forces actively attack or are getting caught in the crossfire between X-Men and Brotherhood conflicts. It’s something the films also mention but can’t seem to focus on. Mutants being persecuted is something that is best shown in a series spanning several hours and several seasons. Something that the original X-Men Animated series successfully dealt with.
Unlike The Orville which is nicely paced in its first episode, The Gifted seems to be trying to find its footing and may seem slow-paced because it’s still introducing its characters, but it’s interesting enough to keep the most audiences watching. The episode ends with a cliffhanger making them beg for more. If the rest of this series is like this, The Gifted should be another great series to follow. Strangely though, the episode was directed by Bryan Singer of the X-Men films meaning that his directorial chops and not his own vision are at play. The story is written by a guy named Matt Nix. Nix and perhaps the studio executives involved in the project want this universe to be a bit closer to the X-Men spirit in the comics.