by Ace Hobfoll
“The Gifted” — the latest television offering from the Marvel world of “X-Men” — revolves around the Strucker family, and the so-called Mutant Underground. At this point in Marvel’s timeline, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil are gone, and mutant abilities have become illegal and thus looked down upon. There is a deadly event that is alluded to throughout the first episodes that apparently happened years prior to the show, and it’s implied that the mutants have been blamed.
The patriarch of the Strucker family, Reed Strucker, is a prosecutor who goes after mutants in court. The entire Strucker family is thrown for a loop when it is revealed that both of their kids are mutants. The way this is revealed is almost “Carrie”-esque: an attack by bullies in a gym during a school dance.
Because mutant abilities are a gene, the fact that mutant abilities are illegal reflects on racial segregation and homophobic laws passed in real life.
The show itself, while not the best, is certainly interesting. It harps on older tropes — namely a white savior complex in the case of the Strucker parents; a pregnant person being in danger, Lorna Dane; and a sympathetic villain, Jace Turner. I’d personally appreciate if these tropes could be inverted; the X-Men are known for not being what the rest of the world (even the superhuman world) expects.
The show doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to slowing down; from the first moment of the first episode everything moves quickly, and not because of a mutant. This makes for an interesting pace change compared to other superhero shows, since the plot line is continuous and not broken up between several filler episodes with different villains each week.
Turner, unsurprisingly, isn’t the sole villain. Sentinal Services, which X-Men fans might recognize from the comics and previous movies, is the real villain of the show. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave Turner a redemption arc later on in the show, only to have another figurehead step in his place.
One annoying aspect of this show is the lack of depth in the characters. They all seem fairly static, and maybe that’s just because there’s only six episodes. I’d like to see the characters do something out of the ordinary. The Strucker children, in particular, don’t seem to have any development planned. The older, Lauren, is the protector (it’s literally her power); and the younger, Andrew, is the impulsive bullish one. If they switched roles, even just for one episode, it could change so much of their dynamic.
This show has so much more potential than it credits itself with; while it’s just okay right now, it could be great.