WARNING: This article contains spoilers for this week's episode of The Gifted, "rX," which premiered tonight on Fox.
When Fox revealed in May that the family at the center of its new X-Men television drama is named Strucker, many longtime Marvel Comics fans assumed the two young siblings on The Gifted were a new take on Fenris, the twin mutant children of Hydra leader Baron von Strucker. But as the premiere moved closer, it became obvious that Lauren and Andy Strucker aren't Andrea and Andreas von Strucker; they don't even appear to be twins. However, this week's episode suggests viewers shouldn't give up on that Fenris theory -- at least not entirely.
The Gifted is set in a world in which the X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood have mysteriously disappeared, and strict U.S. laws prohibit mutants from using their powers in public. Against that backdrop, parents Reed and Caitlin Strucker (Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker) are forced to become fugitives after their teenage children (Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White) are revealed to be mutants during a harrowing incident at a school dance. Hunted by Sentinel Services in the series premiere, Caitlin and their children escape with members of the Mutant Underground, but Reed -- a federal prosecutor who pursued cases against mutants -- is placed under arrest.
In the closing moments of this week's episode, "rX," we're introduced to mutant researcher Roderick Campbell (Garret Dillahunt), better known as the Marvel Comics villain, who shows a keen interest in the Strucker children. Entering a laboratory, he asks an employee to pull up whatever information they may have on mutant siblings. As a series of files appears on the computer monitor, Campbell narrows the search to "an incident in Rio, I believe, in the '60s." With the search parameters narrowed, they're presented with the front page of a newspaper, dated May 21, 1962, with the headline "MUTANT TERROR IN RIO DE JANEIRO," accompanied by a photo of a partially destroyed building.
While that's noteworthy in itself, establishing the known presence of mutants within the world of The Gifted to at least the early 1960s, the real information is gleaned from a closer inspection of the newspaper: The subhead reads "Manhunt for brother sister team," but if you squint, you can make out part of the article itself:
Multiple international intelligence agencies are on the hunt for the perpetrators of Monday's devastating terror attack in Rio de Janeiro. The suspects are of European descent and suspected blonde-haired, blue-eyed twins with dangerous and highly destructive mutant abilities.
Local authorities are fully cooperating with their international counterparts in conducting a search of the greater Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas for any leads or sightings of these two wanted terrorists. Once captured, multiple nations will surely vie for the opportunity to try and punish [...]
It's unclear whether the date, May 21, 1962, has any greater significance -- it's nearly a year before the introduction of the X-Men by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby -- "blonde-haired, blue-eyed twins with dangerous and highly destructive mutant abilities" and "terrorists" certainly ring bells.
Andrea and Andreas von Strucker, known collectively as Fenris, are indeed blonde German twins with highly destructive mutant abilities. Introduced as adults in 1985 in Uncanny X-Men #194, by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr., the siblings can fly and generate energy blasts, but only when holding hands (a result of a modification to their X-genes, conducted while they were in utero). Indoctrinated by their father, a Nazi, the von Strucker twins are white supremacists and terrorists, who in Marvel comics have carried out attacks around the world.
Marvel, rather than Fox, holds the film and television rights to Hydra, so if the von Strucker twins do materialize on The Gifted, don't expect that part of their history. Supremacist beliefs may be another matter, however, as they might provide a motive for their terrorist activities while adding another facet to the show's themes of discrimination and intolerance.
Whatever form these blonde-haired, blue-eyed mutant terrorists take on The Gifted, it's clear Campbell thinks they have a connection to the fugitives Lauren and Andy Strucker.
"Get me the head agent on that case," Campbell says, his look of determination quickly giving way to a satisfied smile. "He and I should talk."
Airing Mondays 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.