“I told Fox I would kill someone to work in the X-Men universe,” Matt Nix told the Hall H crowd by way of introduction at The Gifted panel at San Diego Comic-Con today. That's the way to do it: make threats. And it apparently worked too, because Nix is now the creator of The Gifted, a story about a mutant-hunting cop in a world where X-Men don't exist, who finds out his two kids are mutants.
A clip opened the panel, which began with Blink running from police in the rain, and then struggling to open a portal, before jumping through it and escaping at the last second. Cut to another group of mutants: Thunderbird, Eclipse, and Polaris. Thunderbird has been tracking Blink, and they find her in a rundown building. They try to get her to join them, but she’s hesitant. The police find them quickly and open fire. Polaris defends by blocking bullets with magnetism, sticking their guns and cars together. She is captured, but the rest escape, revealing Thunderbird is bulletproof in the process.
Cut to Strucker's parents talking to the school principal about their son, who is being bullied. Dad has to leave early for a work thing. Turns out the work thing is interrogating Polaris at the prison she was taken to, and accusing her of attempted murder. She uses magnetism to manipulate metal in his knee, and tells him if she wanted the cops dead, they would be dead. Cut to the Strucker household, where mom is talking to the kids about their day at school. Strucker says his day was bad. She knows; she was there. He talks about a kid in class who mentioned his cousin was a “mutie,” which pisses off his sister, and he corrects himself sarcastically to “person of genetic difference.” They both sneak out that night to go to a school dance. Strucker runs into the bullies referenced earlier, who drag him into the locker room. He freaks out and begins somehow tearing the room apart with his power, which begins to spread to the whole school. His sister rushes in to get him, revealing her force field powers in the process. They escape the collapsing building.
Then it was time for the huge panel to take center stage: creator Matt Nix, executive producer Darren Hoffman, producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Jeph Loeb, and the whole cast: Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker, Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Coby Bell, Emma Dumont, Blair Redford, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Percy Hynes White.
Nix talked about how he has been an X-Men fan since childhood, when he read the comics. He got back into them again as an adult, and became a fan of the movies. “They’re important in our culture. They mean something to people, and the only nervousness going in was thinking about what they meant to me and wanting to honor that for the fans.”
He said The Gifted takes place in its own timeline, citing the establishment of multiple timelines in Days of Future Past, allowing the show to exist in its own world. In the world of the show, the X-Men aren’t around anymore. “Why are the X-Men gone…? That may be a thing in the show. And it’s not just because they’re too expensive for TV.”
“I have a little bit of a relationship with the X-Men universe. I’m married to Rogue,” Moyer jokes - his wife is Anna Paquin. He was taken by the family aspect of the show and the way his character has to change his perspective on mutants, from being a mutant prosecutor to going on the run with his mutant kids.
“It’s about finding your family because you’ve been cast out of your own family,” says Acker. She also says that she and Moyers are actually the special ones because they don't have superpowers.
Sean Teale praised Bryan Singer’s ability to handle so many moving parts while directing the pilot.
Dumont said she used her ballet background to create the “vogueing”-like hand movements of Polaris. She also said Polaris is “a daddy’s girl.”
Chung said pretending to tear space is strange and exhaustive. “You look silly as hell.”
Nix talked about how we’ll see a slower development of their powers than in the films, because a TV series allows for a different pace. He said characters will learn more about their powers as time goes on, and that they will be manifestations of their personalities, so as characters grow and change, their powers will, too. “It’s not an accident that prickly Wolverine has claws.”
Lind likes the relatability of her character and the X-Men, which drew her to the role.
“I kind of just wanted to blow things up,” said White of his role. Nix backs up White: “He’s really likeable, but he also really enjoys destroying things.”
Bell’s character wasn’t shown in the clip but is a senior officer in the Sentinel Services.
The mutant group in the clip is part of a network loosely based on the Underground Railroad. “It’s hot for a lot of mutants, and there are a lot of people who need help.”
The show expanded Thunderbird’s comic book tracking talents into actual powers, in addition to super strength and durability. Nix said they will be mining comic book lore, but not looking to directly adapt storylines. He mentioned the development of the Sentinels as a big plot point. We will see robot Sentinels, and see them take different forms, like different models of smart phones.
“How much freedom are we willing to give up… how much are we willing to take away from people if we’re afraid of them?” Nix said of the real-world themes influencing the show.
They closed with a new extended trailer for the show, shown below, with big moments including this quote: “The X-Men, the Brotherhood, we don’t even know if they exist anymore.” And a small rolling robot, presumably a Sentinel, chasing mutants.
The Gifted is set to debut October 2 on Fox. Check out the trailer, then let us know if you'll definitely be watching.