With the recent talk of Disney potentially acquiring 21st Century Fox—a deal that, while initially legitimate, now seems to be dead in the water—fans are again pondering the future of Fox’s Marvel franchises. Of particular interest to comic book nerds like me are X-Men and its related properties. While the core movies lacked much to be desired, projects like Logan and Deadpool on the big screen and FX’s Legion on the small have helped to revitalize the X-Universe. This trend continues in this season’s standout superhero television series, The Gifted.
The only problem?
Like most TV translations, it tends to mix comic canon (across various continuities) with a smattering of brand new characters and some radical re-imaginings. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of The Gifted‘s major players and their links—however tenuous—to the House of Ideas.
BEWARE: Spoilers ahead!
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Our chief protagonists are the members of the Strucker family, a former mutant-hating patriarch, his nurse wife, and their two more evolved children.
The patriarch of the Strucker clan is a former member of the Mutant Taskforce, an attorney tasked with prosecuting mutant “criminals.” This all changes with the revelation that his two children are, in fact, mutants themselves.
Comic equivalent: N/A
While not created whole cloth—the (von) Strucker family has a long, troubling history in Marvel canon—Reed is a bit of a stock character, a stern, by-the-book father that softens only when the draconian order he supports begin to threaten his family. It’s worth noting, of course, that Sentinel Services, the same organization Strucker helps prosecute rogue mutants, is none too subtly based on the government mutant-hunting program originally introduced way back in Uncanny X-Men #14.
Wife of Reed, mother to Lauren and Andy, Caitlin Strucker is a nurse that becomes the de facto field medic for the Mutant Underground.
Comic equivalent: N/A
Another new creation specifically for the show, Caitlin serves as a counterpoint to the wanton violence often employed by the show’s other heroes. Despite the fact that she continually reminds us how little she knows of mutant physiology, Caitlin Strucker continues to patch up the members of the Underground as needed. Most importantly, however, Caitlin is played by Angel‘s Amy Acker, and the fact that she’s been cast as the mother of two teenagers makes me feel very, very old.
The older of the Strucker children, Lauren is popular, competent, and, as the show opens, a closet mutant.
Comic equivalent: Sally Blevins, AKA Skids
A former member of the New Mutants, its Inferno-era offshoot the X-Terminators, the terrorist Mutant Liberation Front, and, eventually, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Skids, like Lauren, possesses the power of spontaneous force field generation. Blevins, however, often manifests her powers to create a frictionless surface on which to move at high speeds and as a protective covering like personal body armor.
A sensitive outsider with the power of matter manipulation, it’s the awakening of Andy’s powers that lead directly to the Strucker family being pursued by anti-mutant forces.
Comic equivalent: various – Andreas von Strucker (possible)
Andy’s abilities are, to this point, fairly imprecise. We know that he seems to be able to control or constrict matter, but how and to what extent remain to be seen. The most compelling bit of Marvel ephemera connected to Andy is his name, which is an Americanized version of Andreas von Strucker, one half of the criminal brother-sister mutate (not mutant) group Fenris. These Nazi bio-blasters have been dogging the MCU since the 1960s, and The Gifted has already made reference to this diabolical duo—possibly as an Easter egg or simply to differentiate them from the Strucker children.
The Mutant Underground takes its name from the Charles Xavier-sponsored organization of the comics universe, but this incarnation also tips the hat to various other extralegal mutant advocacy and protection groups a la the MLF.
Lorna Dane, AKA Polaris
A powerful figure both within the Mutant Underground and, y’know, pretty much anywhere there’s ferrous materials, Polaris is the green-haired Mistress of Magnetism.
Comic equivalent: Lorna Dane, AKA Polaris
The elephant in the room here is Lorna’s parentage; in the comics, she is canonically Magneto’s daughter. While The Gifted has already incorporated much of the original character into this universe’s Polaris—green hair, mutant abilities, a history of mental and emotional distress—we’ll have to wait to see if this biographical nugget plays a role in her on-screen development. Oh, and this Lorna Dane is pregnant, which was itself a plot point in the alternate reality House of M storyline.
Marcos Diaz, AKA Eclipse
A strong-willed freedom fighter with a criminal past, Eclipse is a driving force within the Mutant Underground.
Comic equivalent: Roberto da Costa, AKA Sunspot
While Diaz’s past seems to have a bit more of a Gambit slant, his powers of light absorption and manipulation somewhat echo those of New Mutant Bobby da Casta. It’s also worth noting that Sunspot was called Eclipse in the Age of X continuity.
John Proudstar, AKA Thunderbird
A Native American and military veteran, Thunderbird was present during the 7/15 disaster, and he later went on to co-found the Mutant Underground with Polaris.
Comic equivalent: John Proudstar, AKA Thunderbird – James Proudstar, AKA Thunderbird II, AKA Warpath
With heightened senses, super strength, and physical invulnerability, John is the Underground’s Wolverine. But while his name comes from that of the short-serving second-generation X-Man, his power set is more tonic to that of John’s younger brother James, of New Mutants/X-Force fame. In episode six (“got your siX”), we learn that Proudstar was chosen to lead the Mutant Underground by Charles Xavier himself, and that the shadow of his father—possibly this universe’s original Thunderbird?—still looms large in John’s life.
Clarice Fong, AKA Blink
A troubled teleporter recently escaped from a mutant detainment camp, the fugitive Blink’s introduction to the Mutant Underground is the b-story (opposite the revelation that the Strucker children are mutants) at the heart of episode one.
Comic equivalent: Clarice Ferguson, AKA Blink
The pink-skinned Blink was a short-lived character introduced during the Phalanx Covenant storyline who was later brought back into core Marvel continuity due in part to overwhelming fan support. Jamie Chung ‘s portrayal, however, seems a bit more rooted in the Fan Bingbing character as seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Sonia, AKA Dreamer
Sonia uses her mutant ability of telepathic (and possibly olfactory?) memory manipulation to aid the Mutant Underground—even if it means convincing poor Blink that she is in love with Dreamer’s own beau, Thunderbird.
Comic equivalent: Beautiful Dreamer
Little is known about the mutant Shatter, save his peculiar crystalline appearance.
Comic equivalent: Shatter
In the comics, Shatter is a mutant suicide survivor, a point clearly illustrated within The Gifted continuity by the spider web crack radiating from his temple.
Sage is essentially a living computer, though her role within the Underground seems to be routinely spouting off the unlikely odds of success for each team mission.
Comic equivalent: Tessa, AKA Sage
Like Shatter, Sage is another relatively minor character pulled from the comics. While her Earth-616 incarnation has a long history with the Hellfire Club and various X-Men offshoots, this Sage is mostly just around to help keep score.
The Sentinel program has taken many forms in X-Men lore. This time around, it’s more human agents than giant robots or mutant-hunting Hounds… but we’ll get to that in a second.
Traumatized by the death of his young daughter during the 7/15 disaster, Agent Turner is a man who takes his job deadly serious.
Comic equivalent: N/A
Coby Bell’s Jace Turner is sort of the perfect foil for the Mutant Underground. He’s a proud man with a tragic past, and Dreamer’s meddling with his memories only served to exacerbate the situation.
Dr. Roderick Campbell
A Sentinel Services scientist with a peculiar preoccupation with the Strucker kids, Dr. Campbell clearly has some sinister designs in the works.
Comic equivalent: Dr. Roderick Campbell, AKA Ahab
Longtime readers likely recognized Roderick Campbell as the birth name of crazed cyborg mutant hunter Ahab. On the show, Campbell was also the first to make a connection between Lauren and Andy Strucker and the Fenris twins.
Less a character than a plot device, Pulse is a former comrade of John Proudstar who now serves the anti-mutant government task force Sentinel Services.
Comic equivalent: Augustus, AKA Pulse
Pulse’s ability to nullify mutant powers (as well as electric devices and non-mutant abilities) was first revealed alongside mutant criminal Mystique, who hoped his power-dampening abilities would make him a proper suitor for her adoptive daughter Rogue. In the show’s case, Pulse also serves as an example of the mutant-hunting Hounds, engineered by the aforementioned Ahab, employed in the Days of Future Past timeline.
The spider-like robots are used to attack and apprehend rogue mutants. They’re tough but also tiny.
Comic equivalent: Sentinels
Unlike Bolivar Trask‘s massive Mark I Sentinels (or, for that matter, the smaller later iterations like Nimrod), these robots are unstoppable ankle-biters and, if we’re being honest, not nearly as cool as the classic Sentinels of X-Men-proper.
Did I forget your favorite character or miss an on-screen reference to classic Marvel comics? Let me know in the comments!