When “Switched at Birth” alum Blair Redford was cast last month in Fox’s X-Men television pilot as the Native American leader of the mutant underground network, fans immediately began to speculate whether the character has a deeper connection to Marvel Comics lore. It now appears that he does.
A photo from the production offices of “Gifted,” as the project is at least tentatively called, apparently tweeted and then deleted by co-star Natalie Alyn Lind reveals a row of cast head shots, with Redford’s labeled as “Thunderbird.” That was most famously the costumed identity of John Proudstar, who served briefly as one of Professor Xavier’s new X-Men, alongside Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler.
— X-Men SAGA (@XMenSaga) March 11, 2017
A mutant with superhuman strength, speed and stamina, Thunderbird was killed during that team’s second mission. That codename was also used by his younger brother James Proudstar, who later became known as Warpath, and by the unrelated mutant pyrokinetic Neal Shaara, who also briefly served with the X-Men.
Redford’s character was referred to in the casting announcement as Sam, but it’s unclear whether he’ll actually be called that on “Gifted.” It’s possible Fox used that name to disguise that he’s playing Thunderbird, even while revealing Jamie Chung as Blink and Emma Dumont as Polaris.
Created by Matt Nix (“Burn Notice”), “Gifted” follows two ordinary parents who discover their children possess extraordinary powers. Forced to go on the run from the government, they join an underground network of mutants and must fight for their survival.
Produced by Fox and Marvel Television, the series also stars Amy Acker, Stephen Moyer, Sean Teale and Coby Bell.