The Gifted’s focus on mutants new and old will include Polaris’ mental illness

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The Gifted’s first season will explore the stories of its mutants both new and old, including addressing one classic comic book character’s mental illness. The producers and cast discussed what fans can expect for the rest of this season on a New York Comic Con panel Sunday that began by showing the beginning of the show’s second episode, set to air Monday.

Emma Dumont plays Polaris, a mutant that will be familiar to comic book fans who know the character has a history of mental illness. That’s something the show will address, according to Dumont.

“Polaris is old. She’s from 1968, and she suffers from mental illness. She suffers from bipolar disorder, and we definitely don’t tiptoe around that in the show. She is untreated, unmedicated, and she has mental illness …” she said. “You will see her have very high highs of manic behavior and very low lows of depression, crippling depression, but something that I think we’re treating respectfully is that we’re not saying she’s the crazy girl. I think through her history a lot of people have … I think we’re showing her the respect that I think she deserves and taking it seriously.”

New characters created just for the show don’t have stories familiar to fans like the classic Marvel characters. However, Eclipse’s story will be fleshed out through the season. For Sean Teale, playing a new character in this world is tricky with the mixture of freedom and lack of history it provides.

“You’re going to witness Eclipse’s origin story throughout the series. His origin story actually comes back to bite all of us in the behind,” he said.

According to executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner, using some existing characters like Polaris and centering the show on family “felt really right for a network show.” Amy Acker, who plays a mother who discovers her two children are mutants, said that on the show this does a good job of making people question their complacency and beliefs.

“I think what I like about our characters is that we are able to show that you can change your opinion and that it’s okay to admit you’re wrong about something and then to fight for the thing that is right,” she said.

Donner said the show is very relevant “because it’s about people who are unwanted, people who can’t get in and are outcasts, and unfortunately we are very timely today.”

The Gifted airs Mondays on Fox.