lauren moyer

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SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Cast from FOX’s ‘The Gifted’ poses for a portrait during Comic-Con 2017 at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

The Gifted: Whatever Happened to the Children of the Atom?

Where the X-men and Brotherhood have vanished to and what happened is not just a convenient way to avoid the A-list heroes and villains of the X-verse for the time being, but a compelling mystery that we still don’t have many clues to. The first time I heard the X-men weren’t going to be appearing in The Gifted because they’d mysteriously disappeared, I thought of the comics’ Fall of the Mutants storyline.

In the comics, the X-men went to Dallas to track down Storm, who’d gone there to get her powers back. While there, the X-men were attacked by Mystique’s Freedom Force (the government-sanctioned Brotherhood; think the Suicide Squad with mutants) because the heroic mutants were in violation of the Mutant Registration Act. Strange atmospheric and temporal anomalies began happening and precog Destiny foretold a great number of deaths, prompting a truce between the X-men and Freedom Force to resolve the problem and protect the city. The bizarre threats were caused by a demon known as the Adversary and eventually the benevolent goddess Roma became involved as well. To defeat the demon, the mutant Forge cast a spell that used the souls of the X-men to lock him away, killing the X-men on national television. Roma brings the X-men back to life to repay their heroism and gives them the ability to appear invisible to all electronic surveillance. The X-men, now able to operate clandestinely and believed dead, eventually head to Australia and build a new life there.

On the show, there is already mutant registration going on with Sentinel Services rounding up “dangerous” mutants, so the X-men were likely in violation of it. While it hasn’t been definitively stated on the show to my recollection, I believe the 7/15 event in Dallas not only killed Turner’s daughter, but it’s the incident that led to/caused the X-men and Brotherhood’s disappearance (early interviews indicated this event was connected to the team’s vanishing). It would be simple to adapt the Fall of the Mutants in the more grounded world of the show, without the supernatural elements.

While it doesn’t seem like the show’s government works with mutants who aren’t brainwashed (though I’d love for some mutant collaborators to join up for preferential treatment), you could easily swap the Freedom Force for a brainwashed Brotherhood; they’re even the same characters. Maybe the government did try using mutants as soldiers in the past (up until 7/15, even: Salarta reminded me in the comments that Johnny had powers while in the military and the government may or may not have known about them), and that’s why Turner was so against the idea of turning to Dr. Campbell for help (in addition to mutants having killed his daughter). Whether brainwashed or enlisted, I think the Brotherhood attacked the X-men (who were probably at the rally as security for mutants and to generally support mutant rights), which accidentally (or, for a more sinister take, purposefully) created the anti-mutant panic Sentinel Services has been using as a pretense for arresting mutants. It’d be very simple to give the Adversary and Roma’s powers to newly-invented mutants if the writers don’t want to get supernatural. Maybe the Brotherhood (possibly with a mutant that could do what the Adversary was doing, only on a smaller scale) actually won that battle and killed the X-men, but another mutant with regenerative powers who happened to be at the rally brought them back in secret. Perhaps a third mutant rally attendee with the ability to shield people/things from electronic surveillance allowed them to escape.

The revived X-men go into hiding, dedicated to fighting a different way—maybe even setting up the X-Terminators as an arm of the Underground that can interact with the government; in the comics, that team was the original 5 X-men, advertising themselves as mutant hunters while spiriting their “targets” to safety—and secure in the knowledge that the Underground can still help mutants. I think they’d previously set up the Underground as an emergency backup in case the superhero team failed or died. As much as I like the main mutants on the show and don’t think they should be replaced as the leads, it’d be awesome to meet some of the A-list X-men to explore what the team has been through since disappearing. My top four wish list appearances are Cyclops, Storm, Rogue, and Nightcrawler, but I’d love to hear from any of the classic X-men.

In the comics, Roma also gave the team the Siege Perilous, a device that could “reset” time to an extent by allowing anyone who crosses through it to step into new iterations of their lives. If the writers care to, that could be the key to putting The Gifted into the timeline of any of the X-films. I don’t need them to connect, honestly, but for continuity-hungry fans, that could be a potential way to tie them in.