The Gifted is an X-Men universe without Professor X as a guiding example - and that could ultimately be a good thing for the mutants in the FOX series. While the absence of the X-Men hurts the show in some fans' eyes, The Gifted has actually seized the opportunity to tell a story about a world where mutants exist and humans hate and fear them, that just isn't possible if the X-Men are around. The Gifted depicts the daily horrors mutants face, but season 2 is building towards the potential for something new in an X-Men story, and the key is subtracting Professor X from the equation.
The X-Men films have centered around the dueling ideologies of Charles Xavier and Magneto. The two frenemies have spent decades promoting their conflicting visions for the future of mutants: Professor X dreams of a world where mutants and humans peacefully coexist, while Magneto wants mutants to take 'their rightful place' as the dominant species on Earth - humans be damned. Magneto rallies mutants to his cause as the Brotherhood, a band of mutant extremists, while Xavier fosters mutants in his school and teaches them to be the X-Men and save the world as superheroes. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of The Gifted is how thoroughly the series is exploring what happens when the X-Men and the Brotherhood are removed as the centerpiece of the story.
The Gifted's infamous 7/15 incident ignited a widespread fear and distrust of mutants that led to the disappearance of both the X-Men and the Brotherhood. The millions of mutants in the United States were left to fend for themselves, as human political policies quickly acted to strip mutants of their rights, with the government agency Sentinel Services arresting, detaining, and even depowering mutants for any infraction of the law (in many cases, for simply being mutants). Professor X saw the writing on the wall and left behind a ragtag nationwide network called the Mutant Underground to help protect mutants; the main heroes in The Gifted are the Atlanta/Washington, D.C. cell of the MU led by Thunderbird (Blair Redford) and Eclipse (Sean Teale). On the opposite side of the coin is the Hellfire Club, a well-funded, decades-old mutant secret society now led by an Inner Circle, overseen by Reeva Payge (Grace Byers) and the Frost Triplets (Skyler Samuels).
The conflict between the Mutant Underground and the Inner Circle echoes the X-Men vs. Brotherhood conflict, but with a key difference: because the heroic mutants have no Professor X leader figure, the Inner Circle can win. And if the Inner Circle does win, here's how they could actually save all mutants in a way Charles Xavier and his X-Men never could.
- This Page: The Gifted Rejected Professor X's Dream of Coexistence
- Page 2: In The Gifted, The Mutants Can Eventually Win
The Gifted Rejected Professor X's Dream From The Beginning
Even from the pilot of The Gifted, it was evident that Professor X's dream of mutants and humans' coexistence is simply not possible in this universe. Indeed, the series has even exposed the fallacy behind the X-Men: While Charles Xavier welcomed students into his school, he could only harbor a relatively small number of mutants, and the X-Men as a superhero team were never designed to address the issues of mutants' political rights. Even the Mutant Underground Professor X left behind is ill-equipped to do more than provide temporary safety for mutant fugitives. The series has openly debated Professor X's dream of coexistence and come down hard against it because, in this universe, it's unrealistic. Erg (Michael Luwoye), the leader of the Morlocks, openly mocks the idea of coexistence and believes separation from humanity is the only path to mutant safety.
Both the U.S. government and society as a whole exhibits an open hatred of mutants in The Gifted. In the series, there is no Dr. Hank McCoy (Kelsey Grammer) in the White House advocating for mutant rights. Mutants are victims of harassment by police and by ordinary people (many joined a hate group called the Purifiers) and when they are incarcerated, they are subjected to genetic experiments and torture. The Gifted takes a withering view of humans; besides Caitlin Strucker (Amy Acker), whose husband Reed (Stephen Moyer) and children Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) are mutants, most of the humans in the series are shown to be racists. Even the sympathetic humans veer towards wanting mutants "cured" as opposed to being open to coexistence. The only people mutants can truly trust in The Gifted are other mutants, but they also fracture over what's best for mutantkind.
Ultimately, The Gifted universe rejects Charles Xavier's dream. Season 2 has shown the Mutant Underground struggling with the painful realization that their fight to preserve Professor X's dream is futile. Blink (Jamie Chung) openly questions the clearly ineffective Mutant Underground, while her boyfriend Thunderbird bears the weight of his failures as the Underground's leader. Deep down, Thunderbird also knows the Mutant Underground can't win, because Professor X's dream is wrong for the mutants of The Gifted. Meanwhile, the Inner Circle is fighting for a different dream - and their dream seems like the right one.
The Inner Circle's Dream Is A Mutant Homeland
The Gifted season 2 has been a marked improvement over season 1 because it shifted the focus from the Mutant Underground to the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. In season 2, as the heroic Underground grasps at straws, the devious Inner Circle is driving the action and achieving results as they fight for their ultimate goal: a mutant homeland. Without the X-Men to save the world (and preserve the status quo), the Inner Circle is taking it upon themselves to save mutantkind.
To be fair, the Hellfire Club is a far cry from Professor X's halcyon School for Gifted Youngsters; though the Inner Circle does take in mutants, their recruits are chosen to fulfill the specific needs of the Inner Circle's master plan, and Reeva is a manipulative and dangerous leader who will commit murder when she has to. But her methods aside, Reeva, like the rest of the mutants, has a history of being victimized by the racism of humans. Her dream is to create a place where mutants can be free and have the protection they presently lack.
In short, Reeva actually has a plan that will save mutants and give them a future - but it will undoubtedly cost lives, both human and mutant. After recruiting Polaris (Emma Dumont), the daughter of Magneto, and Andy Strucker, whose family history dates back to the founding of the Hellfire Club, Reeva took over the Inner Circle (by murdering its former members) and moved forward with Project Homeland. Her team has coerced, killed, and stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from Creed Financial, a bank that made its fortune from the suffering of mutants. But the goal of a mutant homeland is within reach.
So while the Inner Circle's methodology is evil, because the mutants (not the humans) are the main POV characters of The Gifted, the series tacitly asks the audience whether they would want the Inner Circle to succeed if they were also mutants living in this universe. In doing so, The Gifted takes Magneto's credo "by any means necessary" (borrowed from Malcolm X) and applies it to a goal that X-Men fans haven't seen depicted in the films thus far: the mutants founding a nation of their own.