Fox's first trailer for The Gifted not only gave us a thrilling peek at a slew of new mutants but also a glimpse at the new incarnation of the Sentinels. This version of the robots look more like spiders than the towering mutant-hunting machines seen in the comics, the X-Men animated series, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and now they're making their live-action TV debut in Matt Nix's show.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner confirmed the appearance of these robotic mutant hunters while talking to about their other X-Men TV show, Legion, and its place in the X-Men universe.
“Matt’s is much more a part of just the world in terms of there are mutants, mutants are hated and there are Sentinels — though very different from what we’ve seen before. You feel like you’re here in the X-Men world. With Legion, we’re our own universe. It gives Noah the freedom to do what he wants to do. Because we play with so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that, we felt like, OK, we’re going to throw it out there and hope the fans accept it.”
Outside of a brief reference in X-Men: The Last Stand, the Sentinels we've seen in the movies were the creation of Bolivar Trask, in Days of Future Past. Trask designed these robots to be 'protectors' of the human race from what he perceived as the mutant threat. He experimented on mutants in order to find the best ways for the Sentinels to take down the powerful race, leading to his assassination by Mystique in 1973. Through Trask's death the Anti-Mutant Movement increased in power, leading to the US Congress to approve of his Sentinel Program.
This led to the creation of the fearsome robots that are able to adapt their weapons and defenses to combat the mutant they are facing in the same fashion as Mystique. It's implied this ability came from experiments performed with Mystique's DNA, which had been gathered when she was experimented on after her capture for assassinating Trask. His team was able to infuse her powers of transformation into the make-up of the Sentinels, thus allowing them to not only become near invincible to mutant powers but also be able to use these powers on the mutants themselves.
Fast-forward 50 years and the Sentinels have managed to wipe out the majority of the mutant population, save for the Resistance including Magneto, Professor Xavier, Kitty Pryde, Bishop, Warpath, Blink, Colossus, Storm, Iceman, Sunspot, and Wolverine, who is sent back in time to stop Mystique from killing Trask and setting his Sentinel Program into motion.
Because of Logan's success, this future never comes to fruition, or this brand of Sentinel, which means what we're seeing in The Gifted could be nothing like we've seen before on screen. But that doesn't mean the TV show won't lift from the original comic books. Days of Future Past missed out a lot of the Sentinel action from the comic run of the same name, including the internment camps where mutants were placed after being captured by the villainous robots. The Gifted's little Sentinels seem to be more hunters than killers, used by the government to round up special humans. Stephen Moyer's character, Reed Strucker, is one of the agents in charge of bringing in mutants (we assume as part of the Sentinel Services Agency) and judging by the trailer, they aren't just detained.
At the very beginning, we see Polaris (Emma Dumont) trapped in a giant plastic bag with her hair shaved off ready to have something implanted in her head. It could be a tracking device or maybe the series will nod its head to X2 by creating a similar sort of controlling substance to the one used by William Stryker. Brian Cox's antagonist used his son's mutant powers to take charge of the mutant minds of Nightcrawler and Lady Deathstrike, so we very well could see a similar thread here.
There is also another major Days of Future Past comic book storyline that was never seen in the 2014 film - the Sentinels total domination of the world. After wiping out the mutant race to near extinction, the robots begin decimating the human population and become the Earth's mechanical overlords. Their takeover is prevented from happening because Kitty Pryde goes back in time to stop the event that triggered the green light of the Sentinel Program. Obviously, Days of Future Past tweaked the plot a bit, but The Gifted may present a similar narrative arc for the series beginning at the Sentinels' infancy.
It's wise to remember, though, that the trailer doesn't present everything that happens in the series. There's no doubt a lot to be seen of the Sentinels and these little spindly-legged versions may not be the only robot creations of Sentinel Services in the show. We may see the towering automatons yet or a different generation of them. The nearly-indestructible, shape-shifting Nimrod - from the Days of Futures Past comic series - may pop up later in the series if we get to the point of total Sentinel domination, although that might be best saved for a later season, provided the show is a big enough hit to last that long.
The Gifted is set to begin airing on Fox during the 2017–18 television season.