The X-Men meets prime time network television this fall with Fox’s The Gifted, a new one-hour drama inspired by Marvel’s mutant world, from 20th Century Fox Television in association with Marvel Television. The show has a large promotional presence in the surrounding area of the currently unfolding Comic-Con International in San Diego, and is also the subject of a Ballroom 20 panel on Friday afternoon.
On the panel: Executive producer and writer Matt Nix, executive producers Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg and Jeph Loeb; and cast members Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker, Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Coby Bell, Emma Dumont, Blair Redford, Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White.
Part of the panelists entered to start, with Loeb telling fans his enthusiasm that there’s an X-Men-based series on Fox, and how much it took for such a thing to come together. This led to a screening of early footage from the series.
The footage starts with Blink (Jamie Chung) being pursued by police, and struggling — by eventually succeeding — in creating a teleportation portal.
She then meets with Thunderbird (Blair Redford) and the rest of the mutant underground. Polaris/Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont) is seen using her magnetism powers to stop several police officers.
Following a title card, the scene changes to a school, specifically Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) and Caitlin Strucker (Amy Acker) meeting with the school principal to express concerns that their son Andy (Percy Hynes White) is being bullied. The principal effectively blows off their concerns, and Reed threats to “sue the school into oblivion.” After the principal leaves the room, he talks to his wife and it’s clear he’s was uneasier about his bluster than the exchange suggested.
Reed is then seen at Garland Central Jail in his position as district attorney, where he’s talking to a captive Polaris in what’s effectively a scaled-down version of Magneto’s plastic cell. She’s being held for attempted murder of the police officers. Reed tells her he wants to help her and get her sentence reduced, but Lorna says she doesn’t want to play by the rules and use a human lawyer — and gives Reed a painful display of her powers, and assures him that if she wanted the police officers dead, they would have been.
Next scene is at the Strucker house, where Caitlin is making conversation with Andy and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind). Lauren leaves to go to a school dance, and Andy tags along. Andy leaves to evade his bullies, who take him to a locker room and hold him under a shower, running the hot water. As you might suspect, his powers then kick in, with the walls beginning to shake, the show heads bending and the power going out. Lauren also uses powers, manifesting a protective shield to evade falling debris, and she rescues her brother, as the footage ends.
The full lineup of panelists then entered, and Nix spoke of his X-Men fandom, saying he enjoyed the comics and the films. “They mean something to people,” Nix said of the X-Men.
The panel’s moderator, Entertainment Weekly’s Tim Stack, asked where The Gifted fits in the X-Men universe. “One of the great favors that Days of Future Past did for all of us is establish that there are many streams,” “One answer is that we exist in one of those streams. This is its own universe, we don’t exist in the same timeline as any specific movie or comics. But there are shared characters. We’re doing our own thing, and, as I say, there are many streams.”
“I was really taken with the way that Matt had incorporated the family aspect of this,” Moyer said, explaining that his character is a prosecutor of mutants who believes he’s doing the right thing, but his beliefs are challenged by what he learns about his family.
Chung talked her take on Blink, and acting out her powers. “How do you practice tearing space?” she asked. “It’s the strangest thing, but you just go for it. It’s actually really exhausting. You’re just playing around with it. It’s quite funny — you look silly as hell doing it.”
“There’s a real relationship between the characters and who they are, and what their powers are,” Nix told the crowd. “If you were a teenage girl and you were self-conscious about being a mutant, how does that manifest itself? It’s a shield, because that’s what you’re feeling at the time. For a young man who’s being bullied, how does that manifest itself?”
“She’s dealing with all the problems any teenage girl goes through, but she has secrets,” Lind said of Lauren.
“When Percy came in to audition for Andy, one of the things we all gravitated towards was that he’s really likeable, but at the same time, really liked destroying things,” Nix said of the actor playing Andy.
Bell on his character, Jace Turner: “His daughter died in a mutant-related incident. Now I’m the guy that chases [mutants] around.”
Will there be X-Men in The Gifted? “One of the things that come out in the show is, the X-Men are gone,” Nix explained. “Why are the X-Men gone? That will come out in the show. It’s not just that they’re too expensive for television, though that may be related. There’s a unity of business and creativity that comes together, and you go, ‘The X-Men are gone! Where did they go?’ ‘They went to the other movies!'”
Donner addressed why it took until 2017 for X-Men-related television series: “We don’t want a fan to ever say, ‘I’m tired of this.’ You have to be careful. So we just took our time.”
“We just want to make sure all the worlds exist on their own, and don’t cross over,” she continued.
Stack asked Moyer and Acker if they were jealous that their characters didn’t have powers (that we know of so far). “I think my superpower is a dad superpower, like being really good at mowing the lawn or leaving plates out on the dinner table,” Moyer joked, saying he actually was drawn to playing a normal human after years of True Bloos. “We’re kind of the specialists, because look at how many people have superpowers,” Acker added.
Redford discussed Thunderbird’s powers: he’s a tracker, but he also has “superhuman strength and bulletproof skin.” “He pretty much has two powers, where everybody else has one,” Radford said.
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