Comics On TV

How The Gifted Ties into X-Men History (Including The Animated Series)

Muties, Sentinels, and a Logan connection – where do these mutants fit? And do they bleed the X-Men blue and gold?

by | October 6, 2017 | Comments

THE GIFTED (Miller Mobley/FOX)
(Photo by Miller Mobley/FOX)

The Gifted’s solid debut means the X-Men finally have a strong foothold on broadcast television. And while its premise emphatically states that it takes place in a world without the X-Men, there are more than enough nods, winks, and outright lifts from the comic book series’ past that it is worthy to explore their origins back in the pages of Uncanny X-Men and its numerous spin-offs.

1. Don’t Call Them Muties

Percy Hynes White and Natalie Alyn Lind in THE GIFTED (Ryan Green/FOX)
(Photo by Ryan Green/FOX)

Early in the pilot, Andy (Percy Hynes White) refers to mutants as “muties.” Based on Lauren’s (Natalie Alyn Lind) reaction, we know that word is not a term of affection. In use by November 1965’s X-Men #14 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee – though Robert Heinlein was using the term in stories as early as the 1940s — “Mutie” quickly became the slur of choice for bigots when confronted by a mutant. It was never more popular amongst anti-mutant groups than in 1982’s X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson. In the story, William Stryker uses it to foment anti-mutant leanings at his church revivals and to bait Professor Xavier into debating him on television; leaving him open to a kidnapping. Curiously, The Gifted is the first X-Men live action project to make a very pointed connection to the term and other bigoted slurs. Expect it to recur whenever the Mutant Underground ventures into the wide world.


2. The Blue and Gold

New X-Men and The Gifted (Marvel; Eliza Morse/FOX)
(Photo by Marvel; Eliza Morse/FOX)

In getting ready for the dance, Lauren asks her date which outfit looks better: blue or gold. The color schemes of her options are a quick visual reference to the standard X-Men uniform. Though some might argue the blue was intended to read as black due to printing issues in most comics of the time, the blue-and-gold uniforms debuted in 1963’s X-Men #1. The team eventually switched to more individualized costumes in issue #39 – designed by Jean Grey no less! – but the blue-and-gold motif would return whenever the changing creative teams wanted to recall those early days. During Grant Morrison’s New X-Men series, he and artist Frank Quitely redesigned the uniforms with a more stylish, fashion-forward feel. Sadly, Marvel never made New X-Men wear available, and the color scheme continued to be the butt of jokes in X-Men films. The blue-and-gold uniforms finally made their debut in X-Men: First Class, proving they can look good in live action. Will the mutants of The Gifted ever adopt costumes or uniforms? They’d have to become a team first.


3. Where Stand The Sentinels?

(Photo by Ryan GreenFOX)

Once Andy’s powers cause an incident, a federal agency called Sentinel Services knocks on the Struckers’ door. The name immediately recalls the robotic Sentinels first seen in Uncanny X-Men #14. Despite their visual similarity to Magneto, they were primarily the weapon of non-mutant antagonists like Bolivar Trask and Project Wideawake. A few Mutants, like Cassandra Nova, would also adapt some of the technology to their own ends. But beyond the Sentinel connection, Sentinel Services also resembles any number of Marvel governmental agencies and mutant research groups like Department H and the Mutant Response Division. It will be interesting to see how much time The Gifted will devote to developing the agency and filling its ranks with recognizable anti-mutant foes.


4. Magnetic Personalities

Stephen Moyer and Emma Dumont in THE GIFTED (Eliza Morse/FOX)
(Photo by Eliza Morse/FOX)

If Lorna Dane’s (Emma Dumont) powers and plastic-cell imprisonment remind you of Magneto, that’s no accident. First introduced in X-Men #49, Lorna was eventually revealed to be the daughter of Mutant Brotherhood founder Erik Magnus Leshner (Magento) 35 years later – although the issue was brought up many times in the intervening years. In fact, in her first adventure with the X-Men, an android of Magneto claimed to be her father. At the time, the whole thing was dismissed as a ruse by the villain Mastermind to control her powers, but it seems the android knew better.

Magneto, for his part, got around, also fathering Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, better known as Avengers’ Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver (the latter of which also appears in X-Men: Days of Future Past played by a different actor than the Avengers films). It is currently unclear if The Gifted will make use of Lorna’s parentage. Just like the paternity issue on Legion, Marvel and Fox’s ability to reference the X-Men film characters must go through many approvals at a number of corporate entities. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that Marco says she founded the Atlanta chapter of the Mutant Underground, as her comic book counterpart would eventually go on to be the uncomfortable leader of X-Factor.


5. Mutants Underground

Sean Teale and Emma Dumont in THE GIFTED (Eliza Morse/FOX)
(Photo by Eliza Morse/FOX)

While the X-Men and the Brotherhood are the best known mutant groups, there are other organizations. For some mutants, the struggle between Xavier and Magneto’s goals is too much to take and others just want to hide away from the world. On The Gifted, these other groups may emerge as members of the Mutant Underground or as rival factions rising up as the central leadership the X-Men and Brotherhood offered disappears.

One such group is the Morlocks, introduced in Uncanny X-Men #169. As most are too deformed by their mutations to live in mainstream society, they literally dwell underground in tunnels around the New York area. Led by Callisto, the group consciously chose their name from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine to reflect their exile status. Under the leadership of Storm, the group waxed and waned over the years, but eventually re-established their underground society and welcomed humans into their ranks following a number of upheavals above ground. The mostly benevolent group closely resembles The Gifted’s Mutant Underground, but may yet appear as a faction of their own at some point. In fact, it would be interesting to see stranger looking mutants appear on the show; even if the makeup effects mean those appearances would have to be brief.


6. Strucker Like The Wolf

Stephen Moyer in THE GIFTED (Ryan Green/FOX)
(Photo by Ryan Green/FOX)

No matter how you slice it, “Reed Strucker” (Stephen Moyer) is an interesting name. It is composed of two very important names from elsewhere in the Marvel Universe: Reed Richards and Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. Reed, of course, was there at the dawn of the Marvel Age of Comics in issue #1 of Fantastic Four. And like the Reed of The Gifted, he’s dedicated to his causes and often forgetful about his family until menace lands on their doorstep.

Strucker, meanwhile, was a leading HYDRA figure who debuted in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #5 (another work of Kirby and Lee). But he also has a surprising tie to the X-Men line of titles via his genetically altered children Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker. Introduced in Uncanny X-Men #194 by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Romita Jr., the twins were in charge of a white supremacist organization known as Fenris; challenging Storm and Magneto at different times. The pair eventually became involved in a number of villainous organizations like The Upstarts. Sometime later, Andrea died when she discovered Baron Zemo lurking in the body of Citizen V. Andreas would become The Swordsman, eventually dying himself at the hands of Spider-Man foe Norman Osborn. As this is Marvel Comics, both siblings eventually returned to the land of the living and opened Club Fenris, a hotspot for supervillains. Oh, they also love each other very much – in the Targaryen sense.

Of course, it is hard to tell what this means for The Gifted. But it is notable that Reed’s children are named Andrea and Andrew. The show also makes an early wink to their comic-book counterparts as Andy draws a wolf in the opening moments. But is it just a wink? Perhaps someone in the Strucker line altered their genetic makeup. The possibilities are almost as thrilling as the pilot episode’s climatic chase scene.


7. That Ringtone

While not a comic book connection, Marco’s ringtone is clearly the theme song from the 1990s X-Men cartoon: the only truly memorable X-Men musical theme ever composed.


8. The Logan Connection

Logan (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Vague references to the Incident, the missing X-Men, the anti-mutants laws and “the Wall” all suggest that The Gifted may be taking place some years before the events of Logan. It is a good X-Men timeline to work from as it closely resembles our own world, yet takes for granted knowledge of things like mutation and the X-Men. It also quickly sweeps away established characters unavailable to the show while giving characters like Polaris and Blink an opportunity to take the spotlight. Though the connection to Logan is unconfirmed, tying The Gifted to that film’s history also makes the various metaphors of mutation that much stronger. If Logan is part of The Gifted’s future, we know the mutants will lose.

At the same time, that definite outcome may be the strongest reason for The Gifted to stand on its own while finding great characters and ideas in the source material. Despite 10 X-Men feature films, a cable network drama and countless episodes of animated X-Men shows, The Gifted still has enough unexplored comic book lore to mine that it could very well start its own television universe.

The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Tag Cloud

Brie Larson Pirates Apple TV Plus comic cops anthology Photos President Countdown rotten movies we love Drama CW Seed APB Amazon Prime WGN Biopics cults DC Universe Tubi HBO Go cats crime foreign Paramount RT21 NBC halloween Thanksgiving twilight Food Network Trailer Freeform transformers talk show Shondaland CMT LGBTQ movies GoT Trivia E3 independent zero dark thirty YouTube Red Rocky ghosts diversity sitcom Amazon Christmas Cannes RT History breaking bad documentary Trophy Talk Universal YouTube BBC One Valentine's Day Captain marvel Extras Paramount Network richard e. Grant Animation USA Marvel Star Wars comiccon award winner Film Infographic GLAAD The Witch Awards Fall TV Ovation USA Network Nickelodeon adaptation Mudbound Apple TV+ critics historical drama psychological thriller TLC streaming Vudu 45 dogs OneApp MSNBC facebook Cosplay indiana jones animated crossover cars 20th Century Fox Acorn TV VH1 TCM Turner Classic Movies Winter TV BAFTA news TV Schedule Pride Month die hard Pop IFC Films witnail Sundance Opinion thriller Certified Fresh 2017 mockumentary 21st Century Fox First Look YouTube Premium Superheroes Emmy Nominations CNN batman doctor who dc space stand-up comedy what to watch binge Syfy versus Video Games psycho GIFs MCU 71st Emmy Awards harry potter Awards Tour The Walking Dead 2015 Comics on TV child's play Lifetime FX toy story TBS elevated horror Film Festival Emmys Bravo X-Men PlayStation Rom-Com BBC Adult Swim Character Guide Musicals miniseries children's TV TIFF LGBT 2019 SDCC TCA 2017 WarnerMedia natural history documentaries crime thriller New York Comic Con Lionsgate Spectrum Originals Sundance TV aliens Fox News video on demand Britbox unscripted PaleyFest Mary Tyler Moore Turner CBS All Access romance Election Reality Watching Series best Horror Grammys spinoff San Diego Comic-Con Lucasfilm Podcast PBS The Arrangement canceled Masterpiece concert ABC Family spanish language 4/20 Family Quiz Anna Paquin Pop TV Martial Arts cooking comedies Marvel Television Disney streaming service SundanceTV Rocketman movie FXX Disney+ Disney Plus mission: impossible scary movies Tumblr ABC universal monsters OWN Toys Rock strong female leads screen actors guild CBS Western The Purge disaster Travel Channel justice league Song of Ice and Fire BBC America History Arrowverse Baby Yoda DC streaming service romantic comedy Holiday National Geographic DGA A24 Winners Oscars chucky cancelled TV shows golden globes Walt Disney Pictures biography reboot reviews Premiere Dates Amazon Prime Video zombie Creative Arts Emmys travel Disney Channel casting Women's History Month television Television Academy cinemax cancelled Discovery Channel Year in Review 2016 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina science fiction screenings Comedy vampires cartoon Black Mirror Columbia Pictures Mindy Kaling sports 2020 Endgame Reality Competition TV renewals AMC Funimation See It Skip It MTV hist Interview The CW Teen medical drama true crime Star Trek name the review ESPN Pixar supernatural Disney Plus Warner Bros. Red Carpet Classic Film Super Bowl Black History Month Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Logo Comic Book VOD spy thriller Netflix Christmas movies Sci-Fi HBO police drama sag awards ratings renewed TV shows TV Land latino Starz spain social media Action Amazon Studios Sundance Now Netflix all-time serial killer green book A&E TruTV kids Lifetime Christmas movies BET BET Awards DirecTV 2018 Kids & Family Country franchise Peacock period drama TNT Summer political drama Heroines series cancelled TV series dceu Marathons free movies war NYCC HBO Max TCA Winter 2020 Hallmark Christmas movies Nominations crime drama book Music slashers south america docudrama asian-american films 24 frames Mystery criterion game show Hallmark ITV zombies robots Esquire cancelled television Avengers blaxploitation anime VICE revenge Pet Sematary Tomatazos Box Office Mary poppins Hulu Set visit dragons theme song comics IFC Spring TV quibi finale Sneak Peek Sony Pictures Stephen King TCA Elton John American Society of Cinematographers Dark Horse Comics festivals Ellie Kemper Marvel Studios politics FOX Cartoon Network Fantasy Disney spider-man Showtime SXSW discovery video Writers Guild of America 007 E! Spike Tarantino First Reviews Best and Worst adventure Apple Mary Poppins Returns hispanic Crunchyroll a nightmare on elm street blockbuster singing competition Shudder DC Comics Crackle satire jamie lee curtis El Rey Calendar christmas movies composers Superheroe Musical tv talk based on movie mutant Epix joker parents nature werewolf directors Comedy Central Hear Us Out Binge Guide Chernobyl teaser technology YA Holidays indie FX on Hulu Polls and Games canceled TV shows Academy Awards game of thrones sequel dark boxoffice Nat Geo stoner dramedy Ghostbusters