The X-Men are gone, but the mutants live on. This is the premise in FOX’s new series, The Gifted. It’s a remarkably meta approach for the X-Men universe that has seen recently major characters killed off (i.e. Logan) and multiple spin-offs ordered (Dark Phoenix and New Mutants).
The king is dead, the king is dead, long live the king. After X-Men: Apocalypse fell short in both box office dollars and critical praise, the old mutants were put on hold while a new wave of heroes were swiftly introduced. As a likely result of budgetary restrictions and narrative mystery, The Gifted has left the X-Men (and the Brotherhood) behind. They may be dead, off in space, or circulating in another timeline, but they are nowhere to be found in The Gifted.
Though no one knows exactly where the mutant teams went or why they disappeared, the shows teases a “cataclysmic event” that turned society against them. Without the X-Men by their side, the new mutants are left to their own devices.
As The Gifted showrunner, Matt Nix, revealed:
“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.”
Though fans shouldn’t expect a young Wolverine to show up anytime soon, Nix’s comments do leave room for some of the more famous mutants to make an appearance in future episodes and seasons.
In the meantime, The Gifted centers on mutants who seem to have direct connections to X-Men. As with David’s rumored relationship to Charles Xavier in Legion, it seems Polaris is almost certainly Magneto’s daughter. In the comics, her magnetic parentage is no secret, and even Matt Nix doesn’t play coy: “There is some awareness [that Polaris] is Magneto’s daughter.”
Though she may indeed be the offspring of the legendary mutant, it seems the show will focus less on that relationship and more on the repercussions from it. As Nix tells CBR,
“The idea is that there are challenges and opportunities [with her lineage]. In some ways, it might divide her from her friends. In other ways, does she accept the mantle of her birthright? Is it her job to be Magneto in his absence?”
Expect more of an internal struggle with Polaris’ identity rather than ever coming to blows with Ian McKellen or Michael Fassbender.
For now, The Gifted has the mystery on its side. Actor Stephen Moyer (who plays Reed Strucker on the show) has provided the only sense of time and place to know when the events in The Gifted may occur. Moyer placed The Gifted squarely between Logan and Legion, “so we definitely slot into a timeline, but as of yet, we’re not allied.”
“Yet” is the operative word. Should The Gifted get renewed for a second season and beyond, the mystery of the missing X-Men will surely be explained.
The Gifted airs Mondays at 9pm ET on FOX.