WARNING: This article contains potential SPOILERS for The Gifted pilot.
A TV show based on the world of the X-Men movies may still seem like a dream, but the time for The Gifted has arrived. Set to debut on FOX this coming Fall, the first trailer for the Bryan Singer-directed pilot episode has arrived, showing which fan-favorite mutant heroes will be featured in the cast, which new children will carry the mantle of mutantkind’s next generation… and which classic X-Men villains may be getting an updated, modern origin story. And yes, we’re talking about the Sentinels here.
Singer has already revealed the mutant Polaris in a strange, plastic prison, but the trailer highlights how pivotal a role the daughter of Mangeto may play in the show’s first episode (and perhaps, first season). But it’s the story of a single family at its core, as two parents – one a doctor, the other a man tasked with protecting humanity from the mutant threat – discover their own children are among those “gifted” with strange abilities. And if you thought becoming a future X-Man or X-Woman was easy… well, the twists, turns, and attacks teased in the trailer may say otherwise.
Needless to say, there may be some potential SPOILERS in our look at The Gifted: Trailer Breakdown & X-Men Connections.
14. Meet Reed Strucker
First up is the fans’ formal introduction to Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer), a man who may be one of The Gifted‘s leads… but is clearly something of a mystery. For starters, his early character description claims that he’s a District Attorney, which is the kind of job one might expect from the father of two suddenly emerging mutants. But the words he exchanges with a mutant confined to a deflated plastic bag implies that there’s more to his job than just trying typical cases in court. Judging by the rest of the trailer, it sounds like Reed may be on the front line of those hunting down mutant “criminals.”
Some extra things to point out here, as well. Previous set photos courtesy of Bryan Singer revealed that the mutant in this complicated cell is actually Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont), known as Polaris. Which surprisingly brings Reed’s morality or immorality into question. Since the rest of the trailer shows Lorna engaging in some explosive behavior, she might simply be a criminal requiring a specialized cell – and a trusted District Attorney to prosecute the crimes. Whatever the specifics, Reed’s perception of mutants is about to change.
13. Caitlin Strucker
Now for the other half of the divorced parents at the heart of this story: Caitlin Strucker (Amy Acker). Not much is known about her character other than the fact that she, like her ex-husband, is finding their two children a bit of a handful as adolescence sets in, making them even less predictable (in some astounding ways, as we’ll soon see). Her clothes suggest she’s a doctor or nurse, and the setting – inside what looks to be a school principal or teacher’s office – proves she and Reed are no stranger to dealing with their kids’ school misbehavior.
It’s an interesting detail to craft Caitlin in the role of a scientific or medical expert, since the parents now seem to embody two major perspectives or factors in addressing the rise of mutant abilities. While Reed knows the societal and political realities surrounding the public’s view of mutants, Caitlin may have a different take on it, with some insight into the biology of mutation. We know that The Gifted will be set in the same fictional universe of the X-Men movies, so fans probably know about the public’s fear and paranoia of anyone deemed a ‘mutant.’ The science is a bit more open to fictional exploration.
12. Andy’s First Outburst
The first trailer doesn’t shy away from direct homages to the original X-Men films, with a teenage boy dragged away against his will, only to rend metal through desperation (and to the horror of his would-be tormenters). This time around, it’s not a WWII-era orphan who has to deal with his new powers, but Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White), the son of Reed and Caitlin. The scene pictured above comes late in the trailer, but it looks like a culmination of a few different scenes shown prior.
The best we can tell, Andy has found himself deemed a ‘freak’ or ‘geek’ by his school’s bullies, who take it upon themselves to drag him into the locker room showers on the night of a school dance (being attended by his sister). When push comes to shove, Andy lets his frustration out in the form of his first major mutant power demonstration. It’s difficult to tell exactly what power he’ll be given in the TV series, but whether it’s control over metal or simply telekinesis in general, it’s clear they’re out of control when the show begins.
11. Lauren Helps Hone His Powers?
Enter Andy’s sister, Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind) as his new mentor. The trailer opens on the brother and sister discussing her mutant power as she demonstrates it on a vending machine, but the rest of the trailer’s action suggests that scene takes place after the kids’ powers have emerged, the government has sought them out, and their parents have taken them on the run. Hence the stay at a low-key motel, where mutant powers can be practiced in broad daylight.
As for the powers, Lauren seems to possess similar telekinetic abilities, but describe them differently. Likening her ability to directing air, and even water at will suggests powers of a more finely-tuned nature or purpose than Andy’s, but she then manages to just knock a bag of microwave popcorn out of the machine, so perhaps the telekinesis isn’t quite as refined (or she simply isn’t clear on how it functions). Thankfully, another shot or two in the trailer show Lauren’s gifts in action.
10. Lauren’s Defensive Powers At Work
It’s this scene that appears to be set after Andy has undergone his mutant power explosion in the locker room showers, with the school’s emergency lights coming on as the roof itself collapses. Lauren – present at the school for the aforementioned dance – does some quick-thinking, and forms a defensive umbrella over her head. It’s strong enough to deflect falling lights, so if it really is nothing but air, as she claims, then it seems akin to forming force fields out of almost nothing. While not the most groundbreaking use of her powers, it is familiar to comic book fans.
The effect of dozens of refracted discs of compressed air forming a solid at her mental command is an interesting one so early on, which means the only question is how the show’s writers intend to use it. It may be a challenging rope to walk, especially if Andy exhibits a similar power. Typically in superhero adaptations, it’s the woman and girls given purely defensive abilities, so we’ll cross our fingers that Lauren is just as interested in blasting debris towards her enemies as shielding herself from it.
9. Training Doesn’t Go Well
Let’s jump back to a shot contained in a flurry of action later in the trailer, showing Lauren and Andy in the same basic stance as previous. Only this time, it’s Lauren tackling Andy towards safety as the vending machine erupts from the inside out in an explosion of glass and sparks. Since standard vending machines don’t come equipped with that kind of explosive on board, we’re going to assume that Andy’s attempt at copying his sister’s food-knocking got out of hand, and fast. Instead of tapping a bag of chips from its perch, Andy has charged the machine with enough energy and force to tear it apart like so much tin foil.
While also not completely groundbreaking imagery for a story of children coming to terms with mutant powers in the X-Men universe, it reveals how powerful Andy is already. If this is what he’s capable of when not intending to do damage, think of the impact he could have on the men and women looking to put he and his sister in handcuffs? Well, viewers may not have to imagine it at all.
8. The First Sentinels?
The trailer also reveals the main antagonist that the Struckers look to be fleeing from, when Jace Turner (Coby Bell) comes knocking on their front door. We have to imagine it’s in response to reports of what Andy did to his school’s showers (and what Lauren did in her efforts to protect him). Obviously the parents refuse, sending them on the run to the motel that Andy and Lauren also begin to destroy, one vending machine at a time. Later on in the trailer, the true government power behind Turner is revealed: the Sentinel Services, possibly the forerunner to the Sentinel program famous from the X-Men comics and cartoons.
Most viewers will be more familiar with the robotic Sentinels and their oversized, purple and silver, metallic bodies, or the more advanced version that wiped the Earth clean in the dystopian future of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Apparently, the show begins when the Sentinels are simply men and women in uniform, seeking out mutant fugitives… or the mutant children of a prominent District Attorney previously turned to to help stem the tide of mutantkind. But Turner and the Sentinel Services may appear long before this showdown in the pilot episode.
7. The Capture of Polaris
The story of the Strucker family is the easiest to follow in terms of dialogue, but the other storyline focused on a group of mysterious, black-clad X-Men-esque vandals is a bit harder to decipher at first glance. From a closer look, it’s possible that the action/power-oriented sequences will open the show, considering that Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris will eventually wind up confined to the cell seen earlier, with Reed Strucker introduced as one of her jailers. If that’s the case, then the pilot episode won’t waste any time giving viewers a dose of familiar X-Men action.
Look closely and viewers can see Polaris’s use of magnetism as she blows out lights, redirects police cars, and even stops a cluster of bullets in mid-air directly in feont of her. They’re also evocative of Magneto’s movie powers, and with good reason: Polaris long suspected that the supervillain was her father, and in 2003 had it confirmed in the world of Marvel Comics. It’s hard to know if that detail will be carried over to the TV show as part of her criminal record, but she’s not the only X-Men member on her team.
6. John Proudstar AKA Thunderbird
The similarities between the heroes and powers on display here and the future timeline of X-Men: Days of Future Past are odd, to say the least. Even so, the mutant sporting what looks to be a Native American necklace and black leather vest isn’t the X-Men movie or comic hero James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath, but John Proudstar, a.k.a. Thunderbird (Blair Redford). Like his brother, John is blessed with superhuman strength, stamina, and durability. In fact, he was once written out of a core X-Men comic due to being ‘too similar’ to Wolverine (minus the claws).
In his original incarnation in the comics, Thunderbird was drafted to join the Marines during the Vietnam War. He earned distinction in combat, and while the war may no longer make sense, it appears to be an element of John’s character being adapted to the show, as well. That’s something we’re assuming, based on his “SEMPER FI” tattoo, visible when dragging his mutant ally away from Polaris as she’s being taken into custody.
5. The Eclipse
Among the other comic book characters being adapted for the series comes at least one original creation. We’re speaking of Marcos Diaz (Sean Teale), an adult mutant capable of absorbing, manipulating, or projecting photons (functioning as an ability to absorb and blast light itself). In the trailer, he’s shown keeping company with another mutant who will be FAR more recognizable to comic fans – as will the tennis balls sliced in half surrounding her…
But back to Marcos, who takes the superhero identity of ‘Eclipse,’ we can only hope because the import he’s working on in the above scene actually is a modded Mitsubishi Eclipse (probably wishful thinking). Since he’s the most affected by Polaris being arrested, and is later seen bargaining with Reed Strucker to find out where Polaris is being held, we can assume the two are more than just friends. And since he arrives later in the trailer just when the Struckers’ situation seems most dangerous… expect an alliance to form – fast.
4. Don’t Blink
Yes, the purple-haired woman seen reclining as Eclipse takes a phone call is none other than Clarice Fong a.k.a. Blink (Jamie Chung). The superheroine was already portrayed in the opening scenes of Days of Future Past played by actress Fan Bingbing, which also means audiences will already know her mutant abilities to create portals to and from just about anywhere. The visual style of Blink in The Gifted is a close match to the comics, so we can only assume the same goes for her powers… although there’s evidence that she may have some mastering of her powers ahead of her.
As we mentioned before, the floor around her appears to be covered in tennis balls sliced in two – as if small portals were opened and closed to bifurcate them with precision (albeit on a small scale). We can’t yet say how developed Blink’s powers or mutant superheroic career will be by the time The Gifted starts, but if there’s mention of the X-Men AND the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants being dropped, all bets are off.
3. The Sentinel Spiders
The first Sentinels Service may be a clever play on the X-Men’s most iconic, robotic enemies, but it isn’t just flesh-and-blood federal agents connecting the futuristic world of mutant-hunting robots to the timeline of The Gifted. When the trailer shifts to show the Struckers being pursued by Jace’s forces in full gear, the idea that they may only seek to detain the mutants, not outright harm them seems like comfort… briefly. Until their means of subduing the mutants is revealed to be… small, contorting, robotic spiders.
Perhaps it’s just how believable the technology actually is for our modern times that makes these Sentinel prototypes so terrifying and unsettling. That, and the implied history and evolution that is sure to please the diehard fans: suggesting these spiders are just the first iteration of tech someday leading to the iconic Sentinel designs. We’ll have to wait and see just how “canon” they turn out to be.
2. Blink’s Crew To The Rescue
As we deduced earlier, it appears that Blink, Eclipse, and Thunderbird all swoop in to assist the Strucker family, having experience with both mutant powers, evasion, and the Sentinels themselves. It’s possible they’re actually coming to their rescue to specifically force Reed Strucker to give up the whereabouts of their friend, but that doesn’t diminish the risks they face as a result. As it turns out, Eclipse’s ability to project light energy from each fingertip into a single beam does some serious damage to a Sentinel spider lucky enough to grab hold of a leg.
As for Blink, it’s possible that, if the tennis ball-sized portals are a demonstration of her fine-tuning her precision, opening a portal big enough for them all to escape is especially taxing. That portal is visible in the trailer, as well as the family making their way through it to safety, but… as we’ve learned in too many X-Men movies to count, being the mutant entrusted to ‘hold the door’ for teammates rarely ends well. Let’s all hope that Blink doesn’t get left behind, or worse.
1. One Last Mutant Attack
It wouldn’t be the tale of a young mutant coming to terms with their awesome abilities without one massive, slow motion demonstration. Having already torn apart a school locker room and a motel vending machine, Andy Strucker does a more helpful version of destruction before his family head through the portal being opened by Blink. To be specific, he takes aim at the Sentinel spiders preparing for attack, wrenching his hands and fingers in the air before him until the robotic hunters spark and explode into shrapnel. Even odds it was Andy’s expression that scared them into total oblivion.
Well Marvel Comics fans, those are the moments, characters, heroes, villains, and homages to the world of the X-Men and mutantkind at large that we could spot in the very first trailer for FOX’s The Gifted, but we’re positive we didn’t spot them all. If there are any easter eggs, cameos, or even hints of comic book storylines at play that stuck out to you, be sure to name them in the comments. And let us know if this trailer has gotten your attention, or if you’ll require more convincing that the X-Men series is built for the small screen.
NEXT: X-Men: Dark Phoenix May Recast Rogue
The Gifted will premiere on FOX this Fall.