TCA 17: How Fox's The Gifted will exist in the X-Men's world

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If you were wondering, The Gifted, Fox’s collaboration with Marvel Television, will jump feet first into the X-Men mythology. The one-hour drama, premiering October 2, centers on the ordinary Strucker family, Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Kate (Amy Acker) and their two teens, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hines White), whose lives are upended when the kids discover they're mutants. At the Fox Television Critics Association panel for the series were executive producer/showrunner Matt Nix, executive producer Jeph Loeb, and cast including Moyer and the actors playing mutants Blink, Jamie Chung; and Polaris, Emma Dumont.

A lifelong X-Men fan, Nix said the show takes place in a time frame when the X-Men are gone. “That’s a huge thing to these guys, and the world. There’s a historical mythology. Let me put it this way, there’s a thing called the X-Men team, who sometimes wear uniforms and sometimes don’t, and were led by a bald guy in a wheelchair.”

Asked how their TV story might be affected by the current big-screen X-Men films, Nix said, “There’s not going to be a situation where the TV show is driving the movie or the movies drives the TV show. We’ve got a very specific mythology we’re following. In the wake of the events in the pilot, everyone is truly in it to find the Strucker family. The question is, how do the Struckers stay together in the face of this? It becomes part of a larger commitment. There are big developments over the season, and they can only be faced together.”

Actor Stephen Moyer offered about his character, who in the pilot officially works separating out mutants in society, “Reed starts this journey believing he is doing the right thing and enforcing this worldview in the right way for the good of society, and for the good of those who can’t control their powers. He’s removing them. It’s only when he sees it through his children and others that he starts questioning his own whole existence. He does get separated [from his family], so for him his quest is to get back to his kids … but there are many things that will get in the way.”

Executive producer Jeph Loeb added, “If you’re an X-Men fan, you know there are other books that live within this world. There are a huge number of characters who are mutants, and that ‘X’ is a shorthand for mutants. We’ll meet more mutant characters as time goes by that fit into the world. But the Strucker parents are dealing with characters we have not met before within the context of the comic books, and that’s our entry point.”

As for the first-season storyline, Nix confirmed it is not based on a specific comic run, “but inspired by various runs. What we started with is, what would be an exciting way to tell a show in the mutant universe, where we could focus on longer-form storytelling? Not deal with a team of superheroes and instead explore society. When I looked at the comics, I looked at more obscure runs like District X. In that there is a mutant district in New York, and you’re following a cop, Bishop, and seeing mutants in society dealing with crime, drugs, and their relationships with each other. It’s not about fighting crimes all the time. It was inspiring to me, but we didn’t take the characters from it.

For those looking for more popular X-Men characters, Nix said, “I give you Polaris [Dumont]. Blink [Jamie Chung] is a major character. Where Jace Turner [Coby Bell] works [Sentinel Services] is part of the overall mythology. And [actress] Elena Satine comes in with the second episode playing a character named Dreamer from the comics. Her power is to remove or add thoughts into people’s minds. We get to explore a love triangle through her. It’s a really sexy power that isn’t a gigantic power. It’s smoke she blows in people’s faces, so it’s not gigantic and a six-week CG build.”

As to what TV can do differently in telling a mutant storyline, Nix said, “One thing we thought was interesting and fun is you will see montages of them training. We have a much longer time period for story, so one thing is we get to see characters as they develop their powers. Blink has a very tactile relationship with her power, and it’s difficult. In our minds, it’s an earlier manifestation of her powers. Also, powers are constantly evolving. Seeing the characters’ emotional lives, and its impact on their powers, is what we want to explore.”

The Gifted premieres on Monday, October 2, 2017, on Fox.

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