I mentioned this in last week’s Watch Wednesday post, but my first foray into the world of superheroes, the group that started it all, was the X-Men. Of course, the idea of randomly developing superpowers thanks to a genetic mutation is an attractive idea to every nerd there ever was. If any of us were ever granted three wishes, superpowers would surely be one of them for probably 95% of us.
So, when The Gifted premiered this year, I was so on board. It surprisingly took me a while to finally buckle in and start watching (you can blame manga and K-dramas for that), but once I started the show I was a fan. It’s an excellent mix of new and old, with many faces familiar to those who read the comics, as well as a solid chunk of newbies which gives the story its own spin rather than being stitched to a comic-based plotline. It’s satisfyingly garbed for fanboys and girls, while at the same time offering entirely new storylines.
I Wish I Had Superpowers
While the X-Men universe has been present in visual media for quite some time now, their first series being X-Men in the 1990s, The Gifted sought to explore things that the cinematic and cartoon series had never been able to. One example is how mutant abilities develop based on a character’s personality and their emotional foothold at the time of development–which is pretty sick if you ask me.
For today’s Watch Wednesday post, let’s highlight some of the great power set-ups The Gifted has and the characters that hold them.
#1 – The Strucker Siblings
I’m bunching these two together because they’re such a great example of how what is essentially the same power can manifest in very different ways. Lauren and Andy Strucker both have the ability to manipulate molecular structures. While Lauren’s power compresses molecules, Andy’s pushes them apart.
It’s incredibly interesting, under the idea of powers-manifest-according-to-the-person, to see how they both essentially have the same power set, their personalities and emotions just caused the power to build in a way that’s entirely distinct from one another. While Lauren’s emotional state was to protect herself as her powers developed, Andy’s mindset was all about defending himself, and those emotions leaked into their powers’ manifestation.
As a side note, if you’re an X-Men fan, then the fact that their last name is Strucker did not pass your notice. If you knew anything about Baron von Strucker and Fenris prior to watching the series, then as soon as you heard the name “Strucker” you totally knew that wasn’t coincidental. Showrunner Matt Nix commented, “All I can say is if you’re naming a show like this, you don’t name a family ‘Strucker’ by accident.”
#2 – Marcos Diaz AKA Eclipse
Another original character created for The Gifted, Marcos has the ability to manipulate and absorb photons of light. His powers are a mirror of his already passionate and strong-willed personality. Kicked out of his family home in Colombia when his powers manifested, Marcos’s powers developed in a way that would keep him alive as he spent a large chunk of his youth surviving on the streets of Bogota.
The face that Marcos’s ability is entirely center around absorption is interesting in the context of his character. He is someone whose biggest yearning is to belong, and his entire life has been a struggle of finding a place like that. As he finds places that welcome him–such as his experiences with the Cartel–he absorbs what he needs to from his environment in order to have a place, and so his powers make a lot of sense in consideration of that.
Marcos’s alternate identity, Eclipse, is a codename that an X-Men known as Sunspot took in the Age of X timeline. Since Sunspot has solar-based powers as well, it makes you wonder if there’s a connection there.
#3 – Lorna Dane AKA Polaris
Now, Polaris is a character that has existed in the comics since the late 1960s. Her powers involve manipulation of magnetic fields, including the ability to magnetize metal and manipulate magnetic objects, as well as sense metals. She even contrives a way to use the metal she’s wearing to allow her to levitate. Which, um, is freaking legit.
In the comics, Lorna is one of Magneto’s children, like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver but not sharing the same mother (Magneto is basically the Marvel equivalent of Zeus, I swear). Within the series, Lorna’s desire to know who her father was is perhaps was spurred her to embrace her powers.
Lorna’s self-satisfying personality reveals itself in the birth of her powers. Lorna is clearly a person searching for strength in a world where she’s never really felt protected prior to meeting Marcos, so the sheer veracity of her magnetism is insane. Also, I love her green hair. So perfect.
#4 – John Proudstar AKA Thunderbird
My sister and I joked that John’s basically the guy everyone wants to sleep with. Which, considering he’s the de-facto leader of the Underground, Apache, and ex-military, who can blame them? John also seems to have quite the skillset built up for himself. Not only does he have superhuman strength and speed, he’s also invulnerable, has some freaking legit tracking skills, and even retains foresight (basically his own Spidey Sense).
John’s like the all-around-good-guy and I think that it’s his incessantly desire to help others that has developed him such a wide set of skills. The fact that they all seem to contribute to John’s need to be the tank-like supporter to those in need truly relates to his desire to help others.
This dude is legit, seriously.
#5 – Clarice Fong AKA Blink
Ugh, I love her so much. Acting as a connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Blink appeared in Days of Future Past; here, she’s a mutant who’s still developing her powers in a world where being a mutant means living a life in fear. Clarice’s ability, which allows her to create portals, goes hand-in-hand with a life that she has spent the majority of running.
Clarice is escapism personified as she seeks to find relief from the unpleasant realities of her mutant life but to no avail. She’s a great character because she has no interest in being a hero, she simply wants to live a life somewhere where she can find peace.
#6 – Sonya Simonson AKA Dreamer
Sonya exists in the comics, but she’s not a character that I’m super familiar with. Thus, when I witnessed her awesomeness in The Gifted I was like, “WUT.” Sonya has the ability of memory manipulation; as she exhales a pink colored smoke, when they inhale it she is able to remove and alter existing memories, as well as to insert entirely new memories.
Sonya’s abilities often feel like the complexities of time travel. Step on one butterfly, and you change everything. In the same aspect, little tweaks to people’s heads with her powers can hold some dire consequences, and thus her ability should not be used lightly. It is Sonya’s loyalty and love of her friends that has her often acting contrary to what’s moral, but so far it’s only when, in her mind, the ends justify the means.
Really, what I’m most excited for with Sonya is the potential to go rogue. In the comic books, her loyalty to those who care for her often places her in some shifty groups and situations, so I’m interested to see if that will happen in the series.
Do you watch The Gifted? Who’s your favorite mutant?