Details are still emerging about the planned X-Men spin-off series, tentatively titled Gifted from Fox. The cast for the mysterious new permutation of the ever-popular Marvel Mutant franchise has begun to take a much more clear shape in recent weeks. Jamie Chung, Coby Bell, Amy Acker and others have already joined the ever-expanding cast, many of whom are portraying longtime Marvel Comics fixture characters familiar to devoted X-Men fans and Marvel readers.
Now, CBM reports that actor Blair Redford will be joining the series in the role of John Proudstar, aka “Thunderbird.” The character will be presented as a leading figure of the Mutant underground network that helps a pair of parents (Acker, Stephen Moyer) protect their newly-empowered Mutant daughter (Alyn Lind) from hostile government forces. Along the way, they will also encounter X-Men franchise characters such as Eclipse, Blink, and Polaris. It is unknown how strongly the series will connect to the X-Men movie franchise, where some of these characters have already appeared or are expected to appear in future projects.
Originally created as part of Chris Claremont and David Cockrum’s now-legendary “All-New” X-Men revival in the late 1970s, Thunderbird was one of Marvel’s first Native American superheroes (Redford is of mixed French, German and Native-American descent). He also didn’t live long, being killed off as part of the New X-Men team’s debut adventure as a shock for readers. He has returned to life only intermittently as part of various resurrection/undead-themed events in the Marvel Universe. For a time, the Thunderbird identity was also claimed by his brother James Proudstar, who later adopted the alternate codename of Warpath as a member of X-Force.
Gifted, which is being produced by longtime X-Men movie executive Lauren Schuler-Donner, does not yet have an official series order and is still assembling cast and crew for the production of an initial pilot. If called to series, it will join Legion as the latest TV branch of the ever-growing X-Men multimedia franchise, which is expected to expand dramatically over the next several years with the sequels X-Men: Supernova and Deadpool 2 along with the planned spin-offs New Mutants and X-Force. Exactly how any of these series are planned to fit together has not yet been officially confirmed by Fox, which has taken a much looser approach to continuity building than many other studios in the “cinematic universe” business.