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Can a TV series featuring mutants with unique powers but without familiar X-Men characters the likes of Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto be just as engaging? If it's The Gifted, the latest #Marvel TV series based on the X-Men Universe, then yes, it could.
The premise of Fox's new superhero drama is straightforward and you don't need to be an ardent fan of the X-Men comics or films to know who's who. It's a world where the X-Men might not exist but mutants are regarded as a menace to society, even if they have not broken any laws or hurt anyone. No thanks to a July 15th mutant peace march four years earlier that ended disastrously with the deaths of thousands of human civilians (killed accidentally or otherwise), anti-mutant sentiment is at an all-time high and the government has made it their priority to hunt down these inhumans.
The Gifted is currently five episodes in and each episode is filled with taut action, impressive special effects and compelling characters you will root for. Here are three main factors why The Gifted is such a refreshing new take on the X-Men Universe:
Family Is The Ultimate Power
In most #XMen films, we usually see, more often than not, young mutants being rejected by family members and friends. In The Gifted, it is hence refreshing to see the extent of what two human parents would do to protect their mutant children.
The series focuses on the Strucker family whereby the parents Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Kate (Amy Acker) discover unexpectedly that their teen daughter Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and son Andy (Percy Hynes White) are mutants with special powers, the very kind of inhumans that Reed tracks down and persecutes as part of his job with the Department of Defence's Sentinel Services. Forced to go on the run from the father's former colleagues, the family finds themselves joining forces with an underground group of youthful, super-powered mutants and fighting to survive.
It's fascinating to watch how the parents slowly learn to adapt and accept every mutant they meet, while realizing that they are now ostracized by their own human race. The couple works on blending in with members of the mutant underground with Kate using her nursing skills to help the sick and injured, while Reed seeks to earn the trust of those he once persecuted but who is now housing and protecting his family. Kudos to Moyer (True Blood) and Acker (Angel) who are appealing in their challenging roles because as main characters without super powers, they could easily be overshadowed in more ways than one.
Riveting Mutant Powers
For a TV series about beings with super powers, the action and special effects need to be impressive and believable. Thankfully for The Gifted, it scores well on both its production values and special effects. It also helps that the key mutant characters are enticing and easy on the eyes as well.
Core members of the mutant underground network includes the photon-manipulating Marcos Diaz / Eclipse (Sean Teale), whose girlfriend is magnetism-manipulator - and daughter of Magneto - Lorna Dane / Polaris (Emma Dumont); his best friend John Proudstar / Thunderbird (Blair Redford) who has super strength and senses; and teleporter Clarice Fong / Blink (Jamie Chung). Including the powers of the Strucker kids - Lauren can move force fields, while Andy has undefined telekinetic powers - there is plenty of riveting super powers, as well as winsome relationships between key characters, to keep viewers interested and engaged.
A Survival, Not Superhero, Story
The usual "Us vs Them" narrative inherent in the X-Men cinematic universe is heightened in The Gifted, where we see mutants not only have to be on the run from government authorities, they also have to fend themselves against the general public who views all mutants as dangerous and who will not hesitate in retaliating with violent means against them. Hence, the show offers an additional intriguing premise that focuses more on how mutants survive on a day-to-day basis rather than using their powers to save the world. Add to that, the bleak view of humanity in the series comes across as a mirror image of today's climate where certain human factions react hostilely against those who are "not like them". If one reads between the lines, the mutants in The Gifted is not unlike some minority groups in the world today who face unwarranted hostility and discrimination.
All in all, The Gifted is an exciting new #television series that offers good action and characterizations, and most importantly, an invigorating new take on the X-Men Universe. Here's hoping that its brilliance and originality can be sustained for the rest of its maiden season.
The Gifted airs Mondays at 9pm Eastern on Fox.