Marvel’s mutants are making the jump to television, and the attempt may be Fox’s best yet at tapping into what makes the X-Men so special.
The Gifted is created by Matt Nix and focuses on a nuclear American family, the Struckers. However, when father Reed (Stephen Moyer) and mother Caitlin (Amy Acker) discovery that their teenage kids, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) are also “children of the atom” the entire family's lives are changed forever.
When Andy becomes involved in an incident at school, the family is forced to go on the run and Reed uses the information he gathered as a prosecutor working cases against mutants as leverage to connect his family with a mutant underground that has means of getting mutants out of the country. BUt when Sentinel Services, the government security agency tasked with dealing with mutants, pick up the family’s trail, the chase is on.
The Gifted is a show that is set against the backdrop of the Marvel Universe, but that is first and foremost a story about family, be that the blood family of Struckers or the found family - a concept that has defined the X-Men decades - of the mutant underground, represented primarily by Lorna “Polaris” Dane (Emma Dumont), Marcos “Eclipse” Diaz (Sean Teale), Clarice "Blink" Fong (Jamie Chung), and John “Thunderbird” Proudstar (Blair Redford).
The X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants both exist in the world of The Gifted but have vanished from the public eye. With no heroes or villains left to wage war for on behalf of mutants, it's up to these family units to defend their own against a government increasingly willing to cross new lines in order to ensure the safety of the mainstream public.
The lack of outright superheroes may sound concerning for fans of other shows that occupy the same space, but it works in The Gifted because Marvel's best mutant stories aren't about being superheroes, but being born different from those around you, which is the angle The Gifted has chosen to take.
The Gifted pilot, which is directed by veteran X-Men movies director Bryan Singer, includes a moment where a young teenage mutant is being bullied and, put under intense emotional and physical stress, lashes out with his powers for the first time. There’s another where a mutant is on the run and rescued by those who would be her new family.
These are iconic scenes that have not only defined the X-Men as a franchise but set them apart from the other heroes of the Marvel Universe, and serve the same purpose in the context of The Gifted.
While The Gifted is said to be set apart from the X-Men movie series, it's easy to see the series as being set on the path to the dark future seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The Gifted also borrows the house style that Singer established for those films, which makes the series feel of a piece with that universe even if it doesn’t specifically reference it.
That distinct style helps The Gifted stand apart in the increasingly crowded superhero television space, as do its darker world and timely themes.
By striking at the heart of the very concept of the X-Men and leaning into the idea that mutants are "feared and hated" to touch on themes like discrimination and immigration, The Gifted is the most exciting and relevant new superhero show this season.
The Gifted premieres October 2 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.