The new ‘X-Men’ spinoff, “The Gifted,” offers a riveting, if formulaic, adventure about mutants fighting an escalating war for survival.
Focusing on less-popular Marvel characters, the new show airing on Fox (Tuesdays, 7:05 p.m., 9:50 p.m.) centers on the Strucker family—lawyer Reed (Stephen Moyer), his nurse wife Caitlin (Amy Acker) and their mutant kids, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White)—who are on the run from the US government’s antimutant forces.
Reed routinely prosecutes mutants, until he and Caitlin discover that their teenage children have been born with powers, automatically making them targets of unjust laws, and the overzealous enforcement agency, Sentinel Services.
The Struckers soon cross paths with members of the “mutant underground,” a community that offers these kindred people a secret haven.
The codenamed young men and women include: Thunderbird (Blair Redford), a tracker with heightened senses; Blink (Jamie Chung), a teleporter; Polaris (Emma Dumont), wielder of magnetic energy; Eclipse (Sean Teale), a light-projector; and Dreamer (Elena Satine), a psychic illusionist.
The choice of the young heroes is interesting—Lauren and Andy are loosely based on mutant villains Andrea and Andreas von Strucker, children of Nazi war criminal Baron Wolfgang von Strucker.
The big question is: Are the Struckers on the road to becoming villains themselves in the show? There’s no indication of that yet a few episodes in, but they’re not at all despicable like the brash and “twincestuous” comic book versions at all.
The solid dramatic performances of Acker and Moyer help enhance those of the younger actors playing their children—it’s stressful viewing, to be sure, but the tight, realistic family dynamic gives the show its spirited core.
With frequent “X-Men” helmer Bryan Singer directing the debut episode, the series is off to a promising start. Subsequent ones are just as solid, despite predictable storylines. But, it should interpret darker themes from the comics—it’s what can truly separate this paranoid adaptation from its more traditional, clear-cut superhero ilk.
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