The Gifted brings the dangerous and exciting world of the X-Men’s mutants to prime time television on the FOX network. Created by Matt Nix (Burn Notice), The Gifted is creates a new kind of universe populated by mutants hated and feared by the world at large. Instead of a school, The Gifted centers on the Strucker family. Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Caitlin (Amy Acker) Strucker are ordinary Atlanta parents who are shocked to discover their teenage children Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) are mutants, forcing them to go on the run and seek sanctuary with the Mutant Underground.
Though ostensibly its own universe separate from the X-Men films, there are numerous references and Easter eggs in The Gifted that link the series directly and indirectly to the X-Men and Marvel movies and TV series that came before it. Here are all the Easter eggs in “eXposed,” the pilot episode of The Gifted:
10. THE STRUCKERS
The name Strucker isn’t exactly one unfamiliar to Marvel fans. That surname has deep ties to the Marvel Universe beginning with the villainous Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, one of the leaders of HYDRA. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretchmann) – “HYDRA’s number one thug” – appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. His son Werner Von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark) also appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Though the X-Men universe owned by FOX is entirely separate from the MCU, whether there are any links between The Gifted‘s Strucker family and the Struckers who ran HYDRA remains to be seen but is definitely something to look out for.
9. “HOW DOES IT FEEL?”
Much of The Gifted‘s focus is on the two teenage Strucker children, Andy and Laura. 17 year old Laura gained her mutant ability to control molecules – which she usually uses to create shields by pushing air together – when she was younger but she kept her powers a secret. Her younger brother Andy developed his psychokinetic mutant ability when he was bullied at a school dance, and his unchecked powers wrecked the school gym. Forced to be on the run, the Strucker kids and their parents hole up in a motel outside of Atlanta. There, Laura offers to teach Andy how to control his powers. But first she asks him, “How does it feel?”
This very question harkens back to the very first X-Men movie in 2000, in the famous truck scene between Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). After he saved her and they escape a trucker bar in Canada, Rogue asks Logan about the adamantium blades that pop out of his knuckles: “Does it hurt?” Logan ruefully replies, “Every time.”
Laura asking Andy how his powers feel when he uses them indicates The Gifted is going to not just showcase mutants using their abilities for the sake of exciting action scenes, but that the series will go deeper and explore the relationship between each mutant and the power they possess. With the luxury episodic television has to take the time to really dig into characters and relationships, The Gifted looks to give fans a greater understanding of what it’s like to be a mutant than any X-Men movie has before.
8. PARENTS THAT DO UNDERSTAND
The Strucker children are responsible for the chaos at the school dance, and when they get home they finally reveal to their mother Caitlin that they are both mutants. One of the most famous scenes in X2: X-Men United is when Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) ‘comes out’ as a mutant to his parents, and they responded, “Have you tried not being a mutant?” Even though their father is a prosecutor who imprisons dangerous mutants, the Strucker children are extremely lucky their parents aren’t as closed-minded as the Drakes were. When Sentinel Services arrives to take Lauren and Andy away, Caitlin and Reed don’t hesitate to go on the run and do whatever it to protect her children. It’s a nice reversal of the sad way Iceman’s parents reacted to his true nature.
In real life, Moyer is married to Anna Paquin, who played Rogue in the original X-Men trilogy, making them the first couple of mutantdom. In addition, Acker played the Cellist, the love interest of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., giving her a previous Marvel pedigree as well.
7. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The Gifted‘s pilot is directed by Bryan Singer, who has helmed most of the X-Men film franchise since its inception, including the original X-Men film, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: Apocalypse. However, The Gifted bears the closest resemblance to Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, the film that showcased the terrible future where mutants were wiped out by giant robot Sentinels, humanity itself was cowed into submission, and the last of the X-Men attempted a desperate gamble to change the future by sending Wolverine to meet young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in 1973.
The action scenes in The Gifted, especially the opening chase sequence where Blink (Jamie Chung) escapes the police with help from the Mutant Underground members Eclipse (Sean Teale), Thunderbird (Blaire Redford), and Polaris (Emma Dumont), and the battle with Sentinel drones at the end of the pilot, harken to DOFP‘s future-set action scenes of mutant vs. Sentinel. The portal-creating Blink herself (played by Fan Bingbing) played a key role in DOFP, while Eclipse has solar powers similar to Sunspot (Adan Canto) in DOFP.
6. SENTINEL SERVICES
There are no giant mutant-hunting robots seen in The Gifted (yet), but the feared Sentinels manifest in Sentinel Services, a federal agency with powers given to them by “the expanded Patriots Act” to hunt and imprison mutants in Mutant Detention Centers. Sentinel Services is rightly feared as they don’t require warrants nor have any apparent checks on their powers to go after mutants. We’re not sure if the 1973 events of Days of Future Past happened in The Gifted‘s universe – if giant robot Sentinels were built in 1973 by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) – but Sentinel Services aren’t without scary tech of their own. Besides using drones to fly around the city to track mutants, Sentinel Services unleashed Spider Sentinel robots on the mutants on the run. We’ll have to wait and see what other nasty technology Sentinel Services has up its sleeve to keep America safe from the mutant threat.
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