The Gifted: What We Learned from the First Trailer and Its X-Men Ties

After teasing fans last week with a first look, Fox unleashed a full-length trailer overnight for The Gifted, the network's new X-Men television drama that we previously characterized as "Midnight Special with mutants," a description this new footage appears to bear out.

Developed by Matt Nix (Burn Notice), the series follows a family whose life is turned upside down when they learned their teenage children possess extraordinary abilities. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, they turn to an underground network of mutants for help and must fight to survive. That's the elevator pitch, in any case.

The trailer reveals plenty of details that will undoubtedly please longtime Marvel Comics readers and fans of Fox's franchise, including appearances by characters from the comic books, a very different kind of Sentinel, and some nods to films, both X-Men and otherwise. We break down the highlights below.

No 'Ordinary' Family

Despite bearing a surname steeped in Marvel Comics history, we were previously led to believe the Struckers are an average suburban family whose life is turned upside down by the discovery that their two children possess extraordinary abilities. However, the trailer reveals that Reed Strucker, played by Stephen Moyer of True Blood fame, actually works for a government agency tasked with identifying and apprehending mutants. “To secure the safety of the community,” naturally.

It's Strucker who interviews a captive Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, in a scene teased last week by the pilot's director (and The Gifted's execute producer) Bryan Singer. "I've read your file," Strucker tells her, with a hint of compassion. "You're a very troubled young woman. Believe it or not, I'm here to help you." His occupation adds another layer of drama to the series, as he must turn his back on the government to protect his family, and explains why his children tried to keep their emerging mutant powers a secret.

Children of the Atom

Longtime Marvel Comics readers will undoubtedly draw a connection between a super-powered brother and sister named Strucker and Fenris, the mutant children of supervillain Baron von Strucker. In the comics, Andrea and Andreas are twins who can fly and generate energy blasts whenever they hold hands.

Played by Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White, siblings Lauren and Andy Strucker possess telekinetic abilities independent of contact with each other. However, the trailer seems to emphasize physical connections, with shots of Lauren and Andy gripping each other, and Reed and his wife Caitlin Strucker (Amy Acker) holding hands.

Carrie White Has Nothing on the Strucker Kids

It's virtually impossible to ignore the nod to Carrie, the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a girl with telekinesis who's tormented by her mother and classmates until she unleashes the full fury of her powers at prom. In the trailer for The Gifted, Andy Strucker is bullied at a school dance and dragged into the locker-room showers, where, in a panic, he sets off a wave of destruction that rattles the building and exposes the secret he shares with his sister, who uses her own ability to protect herself from falling debris.

We can assume from the early moments of the trailer, when Lauren offers to instruct her brother, that she's been experimenting with her abilities in complete secrecy for some time.

A Direct Link to X-Men Movie Universe

FX's Legion spent much of its first season building toward its tangible connections to Marvel Comics mythology and Fox's X-Men franchise with confirmation that Charles Xavier is David Haller's father and the Shadow King that has possessed and tormented him for most of his life. By contrast, The Gifted wears its links on its sleeve, with the inclusion of characters from the comic books, and a direct reference in the trailer to the X-Men.

At the 1:52 mark, Marcos Diaz/Eclipse (played by Sean Teale of Incorporated), a character created specifically for the show, says, "The X-Men, the Brotherhood," a reference to Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants, "we don't even know if they exist anymore." That statement may firmly establish The Gifted as taking place within the continuity of the films, but leaves us wonder when the series takes place -- presumably sometime between the epilogue of X-Men: Days of Future Past and Logan.

Rise of the Spider-Sentinels

OK, there's more than one link to the larger universe, as the Gifted trailer offers the first look at a very different take on the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots that have pursued the X-Men across comic books, animation, video games and film for decades. However, instead of the towering mecha we've come to expect, they're spider-like little robots that scurry across the ground, leap onto the ceiling and cling to fleeing mutants. That may arguably make them more frightening than their towering counterparts.

We also see Jace Turner, played Burn Notice alum Coby Bell, wearing a flak jacket emblazoned with the name and logo of Sentinel Services, which we might guess is an agency similar to the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.).

Introducing the Mistress of Magnetism

Although we already know The Gifted includes a handful of characters familiar to Marvel Comics readers, perhaps none is so deeply ingrained in X-Men lore as Lorna Dane/Polaris. Introduced in 1968 in The X-Men #49, she's a magnetism-controlling mutant who, after years of searching, ultimately learned that Magneto is her biological father. A member of both the X-Men and X-Factor, Lorna has struggled with mental issues.

Played on The Gifted by Emma Dumont, Lorna is described as "a very troubled young woman" following her capture by the government. We see her powers on display throughout the trailer, suggesting she doesn't remain in custody for long. But which side will she be on, that of the government or the mutants?

In the Blink of an Eye

Previously sene in live-action (if only briefly) in X-Men: Days of Future Past, where she was played by Fan Bingbing, the fan-favorite Marvel mutant Blink is more prominently showcased in this trailer, where her powers are on full display. Portrayed by on The Gifted by Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch, Big Hero 6), Clarice Fong is a member of the mutant underground network who possesses the ability to teleport herself and others.

Calling in Thunderbird

Another character with decades-long ties to the X-Men is Thunderbird, aka John Proudstar, played on The Gifted by Blair Redford (Switched at Birth). In Marvel Comics lore, he was a Native American mutant with superhuman strength, speed and stamina who served alongside Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler on Professor Xavier's new X-Men, only to be killed during the team's second mission. On The Gifted, he's the leader of the mutant underground network called upon to help the Strucker family.

Total Eclipse

Created specifically for the Fox series, Marcos Diaz/Eclipse is described as a natural rebel who sometimes lets his emotions overrule reason. Played by Sean Teale (Incorporated), he possesses the  ability to absorb and manipulate photons. Judging from the trailer, he may serve as a go-between of sorts between the mutant underground network and outside world, and lobbies for John Proudstar and his allies to help the Struckers.

That's Why It's Called the Present

The Gifted appears to be focused at the dichotomy at the heart of mutant abilities, so much so that viewers may very well use references to the word "gift" in a drinking game. In the trailer alone we get Amy Acker's Caitlin Strucker telling her children, "This is a burden, yes, but it's also gift," and a bulletin board bearing the trite saying, "Today is a gift -- that's why it's called the present." See? You're already two drinks ahead.

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 Strukcer and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker. 

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