Marvel’s mutants are among ‘The Gifted’

Teens, and a family struggle with new powers in Fox show

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LOS ANGELES — Raising teenagers can be a difficult task in the best of situations. Now, imagine what that would be like if those teenagers possessed mutant powers so incredible they have become the target of a government that wants to imprison them — or worse. You now have the plot for the new Fox drama “The Gifted,” the latest television series in the ever-expanding Marvel Comics Universe.

“The Gifted” executive producer and writer Matt Nix (“Burn Notice”) explains these mutant teenagers are not alone, because there is a group of others with extraordinary powers who have organized a system to get the new mutants to safety. The series opened Oct. 2 with the Strucker family seeking shelter when it’s accidentally revealed their teens are mutants.

“Everybody’s trying to find the Strucker family. And so as we go forward, we’re dealing with a number of things,” Nix says. “One is how do we protect this network that is really the thing that’s standing between a lot of mutants and disaster. And the other is how do the Struckers stay together in the face of all of what’s going on in their lives.

“It’s about these two families coming together and working together. And ultimately, that relationship evolves and becomes part of a larger commitment. There are big developments that happen over the course of the season and very large problems that they have to deal with that can only be dealt with together.”

Most adaptations of Marvel Comics to the big or small screen have been based on specific comic book storylines, but “The Gifted” is a mixture with the only definitive connection being that it takes place in the world where “The X-Men” exist. “The Gifted” will be more about what it is like to live in a world where a person is persecuted for being different than what it is like to save the universe while wearing a costume.

A big difference from a movie featuring mutants is that a TV series can go on for years. There won’t be a rush to get the mutants up to fighting form in only a two-hour span. Nix points to the character of Blink — played by Jamie Chung — who in the early episode will seem to struggle with using her powers.

“That is, in our minds, an earlier point in the development of her powers. And that’s something that’s going to evolve as she goes forward,” Nix says. “Another thing is if you look at the comics, powers are constantly evolving, and there’s a profound relationship between the characters and the expression of their powers. And that’s another thing that we really want to explore.

“So when you talk about, ‘Are these earlier versions?’ Absolutely. And seeing the evolution of the characters as people and their emotional lives and how that affects their powers and the expression of their powers is part of what we want to explore.”

The executive producers are coy as to how much the show will bump into the world of “The X-Men” that’s become so familiar through the feature films. All the trials of the mutants are unfolding in the same Marvel universe but no one is saying if these two worlds will one day collide.

Actor Stephen Moyer says that all of the actors were given access to the massive Marvel library so that they could get familiar with all of the various comic book lines that dealt with mutants. There’s no direct connection to any of those stories but Moyer found it helpful to have a general knowledge of this complex world.

One thing that he picked up from the comics and the series is how “The Gifted” deals with large social issues. As a father, Moyer can relate to what it is like to watch as your children grow into their own distinct worlds and all he can do as a parent is to be there to protect and guide them.

“What I love about this particular show and what we’re doing is that it’s more set in the ordinary than it is in a sort of a super world. These people are just sort of trying to get by. They’re just trying to sort of live in the world, in our world,” Moyer says. “In case it didn’t come across or whether you didn’t know, it’s totally legal to be a mutant as long as you don’t use your powers in public.

“And that’s one thing that I think I’m really excited about, is that we’re sort of showing this parallel, a galaxy, but it’s not that far away. It’s a very, very close parallel to our own world. And I think people will really relate to that.”