The Gifted (TV series)

Last updated on 17 October 2017

The Gifted is an American television series created for Fox by Matt Nix, based on Marvel Comics' X-Men properties. It is connected to the X-Men film series, set in an alternate timeline where the X-Men have disappeared. The show is produced by 20th Century Fox Television in association with Marvel Television, with Nix serving as showrunner.

The series stars Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker as ordinary parents who take their family on the run after they discover their children's mutant abilities. Sean Teale, Natalie Alyn Lind, Percy Hynes White, Coby Bell, Jamie Chung, Blair Redford, and Emma Dumont also star in the show. The series received a put pilot commitment at Fox after a previous attempted X-Men television series did not move forward at the network in 2016; The Gifted was ordered to series in May 2017.

The Gifted began airing on October 2, 2017, and is set to run for 10 episodes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics, particularly for its social commentary and cast.

The Gifted TV title card.png
The Gifted TV title card.png

Premise

Two ordinary parents take their family on the run from the government when they discover that their children have mutant abilities, and join an underground community of mutants who have to fight to survive.[2]

Cast and characters

Main

  • Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker:
    A father trying to balance his family responsibilities with his job as a district attorney.[3][4] Moyer said of the character, "He thinks he’s doing the right thing by moving [the mutants]. He does know these camps aren’t particularly nice. He knows a few people he’s captured have disappeared. He also knows this could happen to his kids. He has no choice but to go on the run."[5] Reed was originally "more obviously out for himself and slightly less interested in his kids, slightly less interested in the marriage", but this was changed in reshoots of the pilot to make the character more likeable.[6]
  • Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker:
    A mother and nurse struggling with her split from Reed and "increasingly challenging" teenage children.[4][7] Showrunner Matt Nix said that though Caitlin does not have mutant powers, she is not "just a mom" or "just the doctor" in the series, and "over the course of the show I really love the idea of showing the evolution of a suburban mom into an underground warrior."[8] Acker added that the character "was actually quite happy with the life that she had, and that all gets flipped around, pushing her to become who she should be."[9]
  • Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz / Eclipse:
    A rebellious mutant who can absorb and manipulate photons.[10] Eclipse was rejected by his human parents, and grew up smuggling drugs from Mexico to the United States. The mutant underground uses him to smuggle mutants to safety in Mexico.[11] The character was created for the series, but takes inspiration from comic characters such as Sunspot and Wolverine.[12]
  • Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker: One of the series' central children, a "perfect" kid.[4][13]
  • Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker: One of the series' central children, a sensitive loner who keeps to himself.[4][7]
  • Coby Bell as Jace Turner: A man struggling with the cold-blooded requirements of his job.[14]
  • Jamie Chung as Clarice Fong / Blink:
    A "sarcastic, lively" mutant with teleportation powers.[15] An "independently minded" member of the mutant underground, Blink begins the series using her abilities as "a way out of situations she doesn't want to be in", but her abilities and relationship to them evolve throughout the series.[16] Nix wanted to use the series as a chance to develop the character further than her appearance in the film X-Men: Days of Future Past,[16] where she was portrayed by Fan Bingbing.[17] Chung wears heavy-duty contact lenses to portray Blink's mutant eyes,[18] and also has pink markings on her face; as the character uses her abilities, more markings are added, making the character more like her comic appearance.[19]
  • Blair Redford as John Proudstar / Thunderbird:
    A strong-willed mutant, leader of the underground community.[4][20] Nix said the character is "dealing with his own issues of feeling the weight of thousands of years of Apache history and mutant history and an obligation to both families." Thunderbird is famous for being killed off shortly after his introduction in the comics, and though Nix said that this would not happen in the series, it will explore "the relationship of this guy to the Thunderbird of the comics".[21]
  • Emma Dumont as Lorna Dane / Polaris:
    A brave and loyal mutant whose abilities include controlling magnetism.[7] She is introduced as being "unstable" due to bipolar disorder.[11][22] In the series there is "some awareness" that Polaris is the daughter of Magneto, leading to the question "does she accept the mantle of her birthright? Is it her job to be Magneto in his absence?"[11][23] The character is depicted with green hair, as she is in the comics, but "subdued shades of green".[12] Dumont took mechanical engineering classes at Georgia State University to help understand the character's abilities.[5] Nix did not originally intend to have the character in the show, and only added her as a love interest for Eclipse, but later noted that she "emerges as a central character" for the series.[24]

Recurring

Guest

Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance in the pilot.[36]

Episodes

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
1 "eXposed" Bryan Singer Matt Nix October 2, 2017 (2017-10-02) 1LAJ01 4.90[37]
In Atlanta, Georgia, the mutant Clarice Fong escapes from prison with her teleporting abilities, and is rescued from police by members of a mutant underground that aims to protect persecuted mutants from the government. During this, Lorna Dane / Polaris is captured by the police, and is later asked by district attorney Reed Strucker to cooperate with him in exchange for a reduced sentence. Strucker's own children, Lauren and Andy, go to their school dance that night, where Andy is attacked by bullies. The stress causes Andy's mutant abilities to manifest, and he telekinetically causes major damage to the school. Lauren helps him escape, revealing that she is also a mutant. The pair and their parents are forced to go into hiding immediately by the arrival of the anti-mutant Sentinel Services (SS) agency. Reed convinces a member of the underground, Marcos Diaz / Eclipse, to help them in exchange for information on Polaris, but Turner and the SS also arrive at their meeting. Fong is able to teleport everyone to safety, except for Reed, who is captured.
2 "rX" Len Wiseman Matt Nix October 9, 2017 (2017-10-09) 1LAJ02 3.79[38]
Fong falls unconscious from the effort of teleporting the group back to the underground's hideout, losing control of her abilities. Portals begin to open to an unknown road, causing an accident that is brought to the attention of police. Caitlin, a nurse, offers to look for medication that may help Fong, and races to a nearby hospital that still treats mutants with Eclipse, where they use an old injury to gain access to the medication. In prison, Polaris has a collar placed on her that gives her a shock whenever she tries to use her abilities. She faces discrimination and attacks from the other prisoners, and when she pushes through the pain of her collar to fight back she is confined to solitary. Reed is interrogated by Turner, who tries various techniques to get Reed's cooperation, including interrogating Reed's mother. Caitlin and Eclipse return in time to help Fong before her portals cause major damage and force the underground to evacuate. Reed agrees to give Turner the location of the underground in exchange for the freedom of himself and his family.
3 "eXodus" Scott Peters Rashad Raisani October 16, 2017 (2017-10-16) 1LAJ03 TBD
Reed, being tracked by Turner, meets up with a mutant working with Diaz, and he agrees to smuggle Reed to the Underground, but the former decides not to put the mutants in harm and returns to Turner. Fong begins working with Proudstar to control her abilities, but does not have something that she truly cares about, required for the procedure. Trying to help the Underground, Caitlin secretly leaves and finds her brother Daniel, who she says has "connections", and is accompanied by her children. Daniel is unwilling to help, and when news gets out, the Struckers are confronted by angry locals. They escape the house with the help of Diaz and Proudstar. Fong creates a portal for the group, but not before the Dreamer gives her false memories of romance with Proudstar, who forbid Dreamer from doing it. Turner turns down an offer for help from Campbell, who is interested in the Strucker kids. Meanwhile, Andy becomes increasingly sociopathic.
4 "eXit strategy"[34] TBA TBA October 23, 2017 (2017-10-23) TBA TBD
5 "boXed in"[35] TBA TBA October 30, 2017 (2017-10-30) TBA TBD

Production

Development

Matt Nix.JPG
Matt Nix, a fan of the X-Men since he was young, serves as showrunner and writer on the series.

In July 2016, after a series based on the Hellfire Club, an X-Men comic property, did not move forward at Fox, the network made a put pilot commitment for a different X-Men based series. The new pilot, written by X-Men fan Matt Nix, was for an action-adventure series based on ordinary parents discovering their children's mutant abilities. Fox Entertainment President David Madden said that "developing a Marvel property has been a top priority for the network—and we are so pleased with how Matt Nix has led us into this thrilling universe." The series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Marvel Television, with 20th handling the physical production of the series, and Nix executive producing alongside X-Men film series producers Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Simon Kinberg, and Marvel Television executives Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory.[2]

Nix pitched the series to executives as "Running on Empty with mutants".[39] He created an elaborate presentation using Prezi which included photos of actors that he had altered to look like mutants, and graphics to explain how the series would fit in with the X-Men films as well as the larger X-Men universe of the comics. The presentation was met with applause, according to Loeb. The biggest criticisms that Nix received about his pitch was that he wanted to include too much story in the pilot, with some of his initial ideas becoming the stories of several other episodes.[24] Early versions of Nix's pilot script were received "enthusiastically" by Fox executives, and Fox chairman and CEO Gary Newman was expecting a final draft in early January 2017, with a pilot pickup within a few weeks of that.[40] Newman noted that "development across the board this year is a little slower than usual", but the network hoped to begin airing the potential series during the 2017–18 television season.[41]

Nix hoped to see the series run for 12 or 13 episodes, rather than the traditional 22, and added that as a fan of the X-Men comics, "you don't want to be slavishly doing the same thing over and over again that everyone else has done, but at the same time, you're conscious that this is important, and that I owe something to my 10 year old self right now. And I want to respect that, for that kid obsessively reading comic books, I need there to be something rewarding for him".[42] Fox officially ordered the series to pilot, as "untitled Marvel action-adventure series", at the end of the month.[43] Donner referred to the series as Gifted in March, which was clarified to be a temporary title for the series.[44] On May 9, Fox ordered the show to series as The Gifted. The pilot had been called "one of the hottest pilots of the [2017] broadcast development season" by commentators.[4] The first season consists of 10 episodes.[45] In August, Len Wiseman joined as a director and executive producer for the season.[46] That October, Nix said that he had planned "a couple of seasons, in broad strokes", and stated that he wanted "to be doing this show for a long time." Noting a growing trend in shorter, self-contained television seasons, Nix said that he wanted the show to feel more like a traditional, long-running story and so have each season end in a satisfying way that does not feel "close-ended".[39]

Writing

Nix described the series as coming "at the world of mutants from the side"; the films and comics "have generally started with the X-Men and encountered the world outside" from their perspective, but the series looks to "take place inside the world of people who are [not] already X-Men and [do not yet] know that world." He said the show would tell a more "intimate" story than the films have done as "it also explores issues surrounding mutants and what that experience is in a way that's hard to do in a two-hour movie because [a movie] needs to move very quickly and needs to get to big action."[47] These issues reflect modern, real-world problems such as police attempting to kill mutants just because they look different, or the government only taking issue with mutants if they reveal themselves in public. The series' mutant underground is inspired by the Underground Railroad.[45] Madden said that the series also took inspiration from Heroes, particularly for its themes of family and "that loner, outcast, people with superpowers thing", though he felt The Gifted would take "that thread [in] a very different direction than anything that happened on Heroes."[48]

Discussing the series connection to the X-Men films, Nix said that the X-Men team would be missing during the show, which is "not just [because] they're too expensive for television" and something that the show would explore.[49] He soon called this one of the central mysteries of the series, saying, "We're going to be exploring it. It's a huge deal to these guys. It's a huge deal in the world."[50] The disappearance is due to a "bit of a 9/11 event, that caused enormous social upheaval and a lot of hatred towards mutants."[51] Nix also revealed, in August 2017, that he was particularly influenced by the comic District X which is "just about a district in New York. It's where the mutants are ... the show is not a procedural [like the comic] at all, but it was seeing mutants in society, dealing with crime, drugs, their relationships to each other. We didn't take any characters from it. It was one of my favorites."[52] Elaborating on the series not being a procedural, Nix said that it would not have a "save the mutant of the week" formula, and would instead follow the ongoing story of the mutant underground as they both try to save other mutants and fight to protect themselves,[16] though each episode still has a beginning, middle, and end.[39]

When approaching mutant abilities in the series, particularly for the Strucker children who are just discovering theirs, Nix wanted to avoid clearly defining exactly what those abilities are immediately since "when your powers manifest, they don't come with a label. It's not like somebody pops up and says, 'Hey! You can do this!' When we think about powers on the show, what's the organic relationship between this person as a living, breathing human being, and their power? The idea is that what your power is and what you can do is influenced by who you are as a character." The series explores how it feels for the characters to use their abilities, and shows those abilities evolving along with the characters.[21]

Casting

By early January 2017, "exploratory casting" for the series had begun, with the process expected to "ramp up" once the series received an official pilot pickup.[40] The next month, Blair Redford was cast as mutant leader Sam;[20] Jamie Chung was cast as Clarice Fong / Blink,[15] a popular mutant from the comics;[17] Stephen Moyer was cast as Reed Strucker, a father and the series' lead;[3][4] and Sean Teale was cast as Marcos Diaz / Eclipse, a mutant created for the series.[10] In March, the first of the series' central child characters was cast, with Natalie Alyn Lind joining as Lauren Strucker.[13][4] She was shortly followed by Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, a mother and the series' female lead;[7][4] Emma Dumont as mutant Lorna Dane / Polaris;[7] Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker, another of the series' central child characters;[7][4] and Coby Bell as the morally ambiguous Jace Turner.[14] Acker auditioned alongside the already-cast Moyer; the pair did not meet the actors playing their children, Lind and White, until the table read of the pilot episode.[9] With the series order in May, Redford's character was revealed to actually be John Proudstar / Thunderbird.[4]

Elena Satine was revealed in August 2017 to have been cast in the series as Dreamer, a mutant who can "add or subtract" others' memories, to first appear in the second episode.[26] In September 2017, Garret Dillahunt joined the series in the "key recurring role" of Roderick Campbell.[25]

Filming

Singer, the director of several of the X-Men films, decided to direct the series' pilot episode himself after a change in schedule for a film he was directing.[53][54] He stressed that "tonally and visually it will be very, very different" from the films, and said that there will be "some stuff go down, visually, but at it's heart it is a story about a family". Singer began prepping for production on January 27, 2017.[54] Filming for the pilot, under the working title Heaven, began on March 13, 2017, in Dallas, Texas,[55][44] and was completed by April 11.[56] Some reshoots for the pilot had also been carried out by the end of that month.[57]

In May 2017, the Dallas Film Commission announced that the rest of The Gifted's episodes would not be filmed in the city. The series' production had put off the decision as long as they could, waiting for a decision on tax rebates in the state to be made by the Texas Legislature, but ultimately ran out of time and chose to film the rest of the series elsewhere.[58] At the start of July, filming was revealed to be resuming in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning July 17.[59] On filming in the state, Dumont stated, "We love filming in Georgia, because it was such a big part of the civil rights movement in the United States."[45] Because of this move, the series' setting was changed from Dallas to Atlanta (with the pilot episode retroactively changed to match this).[5] Filming in Atlanta takes place at Atlanta Metro Studios,[5] on a filming schedule of eight or nine days per episode, though more time was allocated to the filming of the second episode, which Nix felt was a "bigger" episode than the others.[39]

Music

It was revealed in October, ahead of the series' premiere, that John Ottman and David Buckley were composing the score for the show; Ottman previously scored several of the X-Men films for Singer, and he collaborated with Buckley on the film The Nice Guys.[60]

Shared universe connections

Donner explained in January 2017 that, unlike the previous X-Men television series Legion, this series "is much more a part of just the world in terms of there are mutants, mutants are hated ... you feel like you're here in the X-Men world". Despite this, the "cinematic universe will not worry about ... these TV worlds at all. [The films] will just continue in the way that they have been continuing".[62] Nix added that the X-Men films "don't all line up perfectly. So it's not like I'm slavishly fitting myself into a particular slot [but] if you like that world and the world of the movies, there are definite nods to it, it definitely exists in the same general universe".[42]

Nix wanted the connection to be more general than that between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, saying "I think [that] is cool but [S.H.I.E.L.D.] already did that."[42] He noted that the premise of the series is something that "established mutants are going to have something to say about", but "it's sort of designed to side-step questions like 'Where is Wolverine?' ... I didn't want to do anything like 'Wolverine is just offscreen!' ... those questions are answered without needing to name a lot of names or spend time dwelling on that issue". Also, "there are a certain amount of those [existing] characters I can use, and I'm using some of those, but others I'm inventing".[42] One group of existing characters that do feature in the series are Sentinels, mutant-hunting robots that have appeared in several of the films, though Donner noted their appearance in the series is "very different from what we've seen before."[62]

Moyer stated in June 2017 that The Gifted would be set between Legion, in which mutants "are still largely not understood", and Logan, which sees the title character as one of the last mutants. He added, "we definitely slot into a timeline, but as of yet, we're not allied. I think they have given themselves a lot of leeway in order to be able to go places, but we've enough story within our universe to propel us forward without having to do that."[63] The next month, Nix noted that the film X-Men: Days of Future Past established multiple, different timelines or "streams" in the X-Men universe, and that the series would take advantage of those to avoid the films and comics and instead do "our own thing". He explained that in the series' "stream", the X-Men have disappeared,[49] soon adding that the series would not be "driving" the movies or vice versa".[50] Loeb compared the series' relationship to the films to the way multiple Marvel comics can tell separate X-Men stories at once, with a "main" storyline co-existing with several others.[48]

Release

Broadcast

The Gifted began airing on Fox on October 2, 2017,[64] and is set to run for 10 episodes.[45] CTV acquired the broadcast rights for Canada.[65] The series launched in more than 183 countries on Fox, following its U.S. debut, using a "day-and-date launch" format.[66]

Marketing

With the official series order,[4] Fox released a brief teaser for the series which /Film's Jacob Hall described as "bland", particularly "arriving in the wake of Logan, Deadpool, and FX's Legion, each of which proved that there's plenty of gas in the tank for Mutantkind, provided that everyone involved is willing to really shake things up and go for broke."[67] This was followed a week later by a full length trailer for Fox's May 2017 Upfront presentation, which Hoai-Tran Bui, also of /Film, said "looks like a Singer take on Heroes." Bui added, "The Gifted is a bit more by-the-numbers [than Legion], airing on a primetime network, spearheaded by X-Men movie director Singer, and clearly connected to the movie universe ... Whether that connection helps or hinders the series is yet to be seen—as is Singer's involvement, whose X-Men films become increasingly nonsensical and…bad."[68] The trailer had been viewed over 31 million times within a day of its release, including over 11 million views on YouTube. This was compared to the performance of the first trailer for This Is Us the year before, which went on to be a critical and commercial success.[69] Also for Fox's Upfront, "government agents" from the series' Sentinel Services agency were running a mobile "Mutant Testing Center" in New York City on May 15, offering genetic tests to see if participants have the "mutant gene". The test results "about who they are and where they came from" would be mailed to the participants in about a month.[70] Footage from the pilot was screened at a 2017 San Diego Comic-Con panel featuring cast and crew members,[49] and the beginning of the second episode was debuted at a similar panel for the show at New York Comic Con later that year.[71]

Reception

Ratings

No. Title Air date Rating/share
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "eXposed" October 2, 2017 1.5/5 4.90[37] TBD TBD TBD TBD
2 "rX" October 9, 2017 1.2/4 3.79[38] TBD TBD TBD TBD
3 "eXodus" October 16, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
4 "eXit strategy" October 23, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
5 "boXed in" October 30, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 76% approval rating, with an average rating of 7.03/10 based on 38 reviews.[72] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 63 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[73]

Giving his first impression of the series' pilot for TVLine, Matt Webb Mitovich praised the "instantly engaging premise" and visual effects. He felt the entire cast was "solid", which he called "no easy feat with an ensemble this size", and also highlighted the clear establishment of the characters' relationships. He concluded by noting that the series would be facing tough opposition in terms of ratings, but that there was a chance for the show to be more successful than Gotham (which it replaced in Fox's airing schedule).[74] Also reviewing the first episode, Dominic Patten of Deadline.com praised the series as being superior to Marvel's Inhumans, and particularly noted its high stakes and timely themes. He did feel that there were elements in the episode that were derivative of Heroes, but ultimately summed up the episode as "quite good".[75]

Daniel Fienberg from The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "The Gifted gets points for including X-Men characters with some name recognition and for acknowledging its place within the bigger franchise. That, however, raises expectations, too, as does Singer's adroit work with a budget that no subsequent director is likely to have. Three or four effects-driven set pieces ... balance out the soapy family moments. I have very little confidence that The Gifted will be able to achieve that balance in subsequent episodes, but I'll definitely be watching to find out".[76] Joshua Yehl of IGN felt the pilot "delivers everything you'd expect from a show based in the world of the X-Men ... It may not be as thought-provoking as Legion, but it doesn't try to be." Yehl thought the best element of the series was how it "sets up a 'normal' family where the father makes a living off of sending mutants to jail and the son casually tosses out a mutant slur at the dinner table, and then forces those same people to rely on mutants to survive".[77]

References

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