Spin-off on mutants a success

The Strucker family, played by (from left) Percy Hynes White, Amy Acker and Stephen Moyer, are on the run from the government.
The Strucker family, played by (from left) Percy Hynes White, Amy Acker and Stephen Moyer, are on the run from the government.PHOTO: FOX ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

The Gifted, a new series set in the X-Men world, returns to the core idea of the popular comic and film franchise: that superhuman mutants are just like anyone who has faced prejudice and fear.

The show, which is airing in Singapore on Fox (Singtel TV Channel 330, StarHub TV Channel 505), explores this through the Strucker family, who go on the run when parents Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Caitlin (Amy Acker) discover their children have mutant powers, seeking help from an underground network of mutants to survive.

Its producers say the TV format allows for more character development than the numerous X-Men films and spin-off movies such as the Wolverine trilogy.

Speaking to The Straits Times and other press in Los Angeles recently, The Gifted's creator Matt Nix says the show will be able to "focus on longer-term storytelling", so "we really get to explore the relationship of the mutants to the larger world, and really explore society".

In this universe, it is not illegal to be a mutant, but it is to use your powers in public. And the X-Men themselves are gone.

"It's one of the central mysteries of the show," he explains.

"There's not going to be a situation where the TV show is driving the movies or the movies are driving the TV show, but it doesn't avoid it by pretending the X-Men don't exist."

Although he turned to some of the more obscure X-Men comics for inspiration, he is confident that Marvel aficionados will recognise major mutant superheroes from the books, including the teleporting Blink (Jamie Chung) and Polaris (Emma Dumont), who has powers of magnetism.

The heart of the narrative, however, will be the journey of the Strucker family and how it illustrates social prejudice, fear and alienation.

One of the characters confronting this head-on is Reed, played by English actor Moyer, 47. He plays a district attorney working for the government agency that hunts down mutants - a role he becomes immensely conflicted about once he discovers his children have powers.

"He starts this journey believing he's doing the right thing for the good of society and the good of people unable to control their powers," Moyer says.

"It's not until he sees his own children go through this that he sees how difficult it is for them to exist in society without being ostracised or abused."

The star says he understands the appeal of the comic-book stories when he thinks back to his own childhood or looks at his five-year-old twins with wife Anna Paquin - his co-star on the vampire drama True Blood (2008 to 2014) - and his two teenage children from his first marriage.

"Some kids drift off into sport and some kids go into computers or games, but everybody has that imaginary world that they live in."

Comic-book heroes are "a way of tapping that imagination you had as a kid and (imagining) what you would be able to do as somebody who's been held back or pushed back by society in some way".

Alison de Souza

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Spin-off on mutants a success'. Print Edition | Subscribe