Throughout the X-Men's nearly 55-year history, across comic books, television and film, the superheroes have been dedicated to protecting a world that fears and hates them. Mutants are routinely depicted as targets of discrimination, occasionally sanctioned by law; they've even been hunted, both by the government and other groups. It's no different on Fox's upcoming drama The Gifted, which introduces a United States in which the government has cracked down on mutant activities following a mysterious "cataclysmic event" that's somehow tied to the disappearance of the X-Men.
"The X-Men are gone. The Brotherhood is gone. Most of the powerful classic mutants are not around," showrunner Matt Nix recently explained to CBR. "People don’t know where they’ve gone. They are shrouded in mystery. It comes out gradually over the course of the series that there’s been a cataclysmic event, a bit of a 9/11 event, that caused enormous social upheaval and a lot of hatred towards mutants. It’s somehow related to the disappearance of the X-Men and the Brotherhood."
On The Gifted, which premieres Monday on Fox, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense called Sentinel Services is tasked with protecting the country against mutant threats. Invested with vast legal authority, Sentinel Services are called in, with conventional weapons as well as relentless robotic spiders, when mutants publicly use their powers. Those captured are whisked away to mutant detention centers, likely to never be seen again.
In the absence of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, the only organization left to protect mutants is the Mutant Underground, a nationwide network that sprang up when anti-mutant laws became draconian.
"They are working to deal with the results on this society-wide crackdown on mutants," Nix said. "They are trying to get mutants in trouble to safety. It’s not illegal to be a mutant, but it’s functionally illegal to use your powers in a public place in any way that could conceivably endanger anyone. So, The Gifted is another way into those classic questions of the X-Men. This group is asking itself a lot of the same questions that have been asked in the comics and the movies, but they are asking them from a unique perspective. They don’t have a mansion. They don’t have a jet. They are living in a ruined bank that is falling down and rests on the outskirts of Atlanta. They don’t have anything, including money. They are struggling to buy food. It’s a very different take on the comics, but they ask some of the same questions. Some people want to fight. Some people want to find a way to co-exist."
The Gifted centers on the Struckers, who would be considered an ordinary family except for the fact that father Reed (played by Stephen Moyer) is a district attorney who prosecutes cases against mutants. But when their teen children manifest their mutant powers in public, the Struckers must go on the run from the government, and turn to the Mutant Underground for help to save their family.
"The other side of it is the Strucker family coming into this," Nix explained, "having lived on the human side of the equation and enjoyed the rights and privileges that humans have in this society and mutants don’t, really, and not realizing that was the case. They were blind to their own privileges and now they find themselves on the other side of this equation. They are waking to the reality of the world that they live in. Reed Strucker, who was prosecuting mutants, had felt like he was a human person just enforcing the law. He didn’t hate anybody, but now finds he was part of a system that was really hurting people."
Debuting Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz/Eclipse, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont cast as Lorna Dane/Polaris, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong and Blair Redford as John Proudstar/Thunderbird, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.