With the premiere of The Gifted laying out the plot, characters, and loose world of the series, episode 2 was able to dive into just what version of the X-Men universe viewers are in. While ‘rX’ doesn’t clear up whether the show is connected to the movies, it certainly continues to prove that the series is firmly rooted in elements from the comics.
Like the pilot, this week’s episode of The Gifted featured plenty of nods to the comics. One of the bigger references, however, comes as something of a throwaway line. When Agent Jace Turner is interrogating Reed Strucker, we learn what the antagonist of the series went through during a battle between the X-Men and the Brotherhood. Although The Gifted may never outright feature the main mutants from Marvel Comics, it does paint a picture of what it’s like for other characters to operate in the world. To Turner, the X-Men are just as complicit as the Brotherhood, and the Mutant Underground is no better than the Mutant Liberation Front.
While the Mutant Underground is modeled after various resistance groups, including the Underground Railroad, the Mutant Liberation front actually comes from the comics. It also shares certain historical reference points as well. Radical organizations have long used the nomenclature of ‘Liberation Front’ when championing a certain rebellious cause. There’s the Animal Liberation Front who free animals from testing facilities, the Gay Liberation Front who have ties to the Stonewall Riots and the first Pride March, and decidedly more extreme groups who have taken military action across the Middle East over the years.
In that latter vein, the MLF was introduced in 1990’s New Mutants #86 as an antagonist for the group. Created by Louise Simonson and Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, the MLF was led by Stryfe, the evil clone of Cable. It’s roster mostly consisted of C-list mutants who were coerced into joining, but characters like Cannonball, Moonstar, and an alternate-reality Domino have all been members.
Over the years, the group has battle the New Mutants and X-Force, operating much like Magneto's Brotherhood does. Like the more extreme liberation groups, the team used terrorism to spread their pro-mutant agenda. There’s no telling what the version of the organization from The Gifted is like, but it seems they fit a similar mold. And while Stryfe is unlikely to appear on the series, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the more radical MLF show up to contrast the more benevolent Mutant Resistance.
It's unlikely that The Gifted will ever feature the X-Men or the Brotherhood as we know them. But by including the MLF, the show would be able to mirror the struggle of Xavier versus Magneto by playing the extremist group off of the MU. Only time will tell if the reference was more than just an Easter egg, but don’t be surprised if the Mutant Liberation Front shows up soon on The Gifted.
The Gifted airs Mondays on FOX.