The general feeling is that everything is saturated with comic book material these days and that's a true statement but people instantly condemn shows and movies for that reason alone and they couldn't be more wrong. These properties and characters have decades of stories and events to pull from and that fact alone makes it easy to adapt these stories and characters for the small and silver screen. It's a process that hits a few speed bumps with the latest being Marvel's Inhumans which debuted recently as well, The Gifted is set within the Marvel Universe as well but it feels more real to the world and that helps me to understand and feel compassion for the characters. I don't want to trash a show like Inhumans because it has a great cast but fails in a story that pulls the viewers into the world. I didn't have that experience when I watched the pilot episode for The Gifted as I was pulled into this world where being a mutant is essentially the same as being a terrorist, the characters are flawed and compelling and when they focus on the villains of the show you can relate to them as well. That's a difficult balance to pull off on a show or even a feature length movie but it's an element of the show that gets me invested even more, The Gifted is set in the same universe as The X-Men but they haven't established a timeline to connect it to the movies, we got the reference that both The X-Men and The Brotherhood have vanished. It's a risky element to go with in a show like this but it raises the stakes because there is no safe haven for mutants and they're forced into basically a modern day 'Underground Railroad'.
The show revolves around The Strucker Family who seem to have a normal life until the one child is bullied and his mutant abilities kick in for the first time, the mutant gene is triggered by fear or pain. Andy Strucker is being beaten and verbally assaulted by a group of bullies and his powers kick in and he has no control, he is rescued by his sister, Lauren, who is also a mutant and that begins the conflict of the show. The father, Reed, is a successful prosecutor who locks up mutants for their crimes and he has to come to terms with his own children being mutants and he's forced to look at his decisions.
I'm not going into a full blown review but that's the essential basis for the show and it brings another story arc into play as well, The Mutant Underground, and their struggle to aid and assist mutants in a world that basically fears and hates them more than anything. The show begins with this group but in my eyes they are the secondary element to the arc of this show, the family drama is a dynamic I love and blending it into this world is awesome and full of potential. The idea of family stretches into the ranks of The Mutant Underground as well where we meet familiar characters if you grew up reading the source material. Thunderbird, Blink and Polaris are the standout characters along with the character of Eclipse who was created for the show but pulls a lot from the character of Sunspot.
I'm not going to lie when I say the character of Eclipse played by Sean Teale is in my opinion the weakest part of the show, there are moments when he comes across as a strong character and vital part of The Mutant Underground but his decisions and actions are questionable at best. I'm not trashing the character because there are elements that work but his writing is all over the board and by the end of the fourth episode it's a real mess. I just hope they don't stretch out his storyline with The Cartel because it felt so forced and cheesy and took away from the episode and made me care less about his character.
My favorite aspect of this show so far is the introduction of the character of Polaris played by Emma Dumont, she's a loose cannon and not scared to use her powers either. She's the love interest of Eclipse on this show and if they focus on the relationship between these two there's a lot of potential for character development. Her reaction when he is shot by an officer during the rescue of Blink in the pilot episode is pure rage and control over her ability, we've seen her locked up the majority of the first four episodes which has limited the use of her abilities but we've got to see her personality grow. I'm waiting to see if they confirm her as the daughter of Magneto in this world as her abilities are very similar to his and she has in a way took up his mantle ensuring the safety of mutants. She seems to be the key member of The Mutant Underground and is responsible for saving a lot of the people that are now an active part of the group, I'm looking forward to seeing her story arc grow and her relationship with Eclipse to be expanded upon as well.
The Gifted is a show that introduces us to a world set in the X-Men Universe but it's so much more than that, we see a world where there are no heroes left to protect the mutants but a group that is largely viewed as criminal. The Mutant Underground is bringing the mutants together but they have no idea how to properly function as a team, we see glimpses of a team coming together but the characters are green and never come together as a proper force. It seems with Polaris in the mix they may function better as a team but I have a feeling her own issues will get in the way, that's a dynamic to the character that I love. The Strucker Family is a wildcard in this universe as the two children are beginning to learn and understand their respective abilities, the looming threat of Sentinel Services adds a great villain to this world of characters. I've been a fan of the X-Men world since I was a young kid and to see a live action show set in the universe is something I've wanted for years. They treat the characters and stories with great respect and adapt them to a world similar to our own, it makes for a compelling show and set of characters.