For years, X-Men fans have wanted to see their favorite mutant heroes arrive on the small screen, and in 2016, Noah Hawley made that dream a reality when Legion debuted on FX. Now, it’s time for the next phase of Fox’s television plans for its lucrative X-Men franchise when Matt Nix’s The Gifted arrives in early October.
Of course, there’s a bit of a twist: in this reality, the X-Men are missing, having disappeared along with the Brotherhood as the result of what Nix describes as “a bit of a 9/11 event.” The series’ story follows Reed and Caitlin Strucker, who discover their two teenage children — Lauren and Andy — possesses mutant abilities of their own. On the run from the government, the Struckers seek safety with a secret underground community of mutants where they meet Polaris, Eclipse, Thunderbird and Blink.
Ahead of the series’ arrival on Oct. 2, CBR spoke with Nix about all things Gifted. Over the course of our conversation, the showrunner went in-depth on what fans can expect from the Mutant Underground, how the show will handle Polaris’ heritage as the daughter of Magneto, Blink’s true power level, and how the villainous Ahab will differ from his comic book inspiration.
CBR: In your mind, what differentiates the X-Men from other groups such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four?
Matt Nix: The core of the X-Men has always been this idea of power relationships between people in society. From a comic-book perspective, the X-Men was a pioneer in the idea of mutants as a persecuted and somewhat endangered segment of society. It’s always played with that tension between, “What do people with superpowers owe to society? What does society owe to them? What do they have to fear from then?” Then there’s the ongoing question of what’s the proper way for society to deal with a possibly terrifying minority population within the social body?
Then, on the other side for the mutants, what’s a legitimate form of protest? If you’re fighting for your rights, how violent can it legitimately be? Are you fighting for co-existence? Are you fighting for domination? What are you fighting for? Those are the classic questions of the X-Men. The series is basically a take on that in the sense that the mutants in the story are working with this Mutant Underground.
What is the mutant landscape in the series?
The X-Men are gone. The Brotherhood is gone. Most of the powerful classic mutants are not around. 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.
In the wake of that, this Mutant Underground has appeared. They are working to deal with the results on this society-wide crackdown on mutants. 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 other side of it is the Strucker family coming into this, 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. Caitlin Strucker was a mom who didn’t really think about these issues and now realizes that by not thinking about these issues, she was also part of the problem. Our human eyeballs into this, in the form of the two kids who just discovered their mutant powers and are navigating that. Then, there’s the two parents who don’t have any powers and are dealing with that.
Then, the last thing I’d say is they are really a good microcosm for those issues as well because for the Strucker family, if it comes down to a war between mutants and humans, it’s a war between parents and kids. The family gets torn apart, so that’s something they want to avoid.
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