How An Iconic X-Men Villain Is Impacting ‘The Gifted,’ Without Even Showing Up
There may be no more interesting or pivotal character in The Gifted than Polaris, played by Emma Dumont. She's a founding member of the Mutant Underground, who teaches other mutants how to effectively use their powers and defends the group from Sentinel Services. All the while, she is pregnant. It seems that the character of Lorna Dane is defined by familial relationships, whether by choice or by blood. While she lacks any relationship to a very famous biological family member, her unseen father Magneto still remains vital to her character's development, according to the actor.
Her relationship with her father or lack thereof will be highlighted as the season progresses, she explains. “There’s a good chunk of the second half of the season that deals with Polaris and her family lineage and the repercussions of that," Dumont says in a phone interview in November. “Her sort of figuring out if she is a good guy or a bad guy. Just because she believes the same things as the person that is her father, what does that mean for her?”
Magneto looms large as an X-Men canon character. He doesn't believe that humans and mutants can co-exist, and wants to claim the world for his people. Polaris has never known her father, and as a result, lives in a place of hurt and heartbreak. Dumont says that her character has heard rumors and about how similar she is to him, yet has to deal with the fact that Magneto has actively chosen to remain uninvolved in her life.
Lorna is an interesting enough character on her own, apart from her relationship with a famous absentee father. After all, her powers are changing, she’s getting stronger all on her own. Her stint being held by Sentinel Services has changed her. While Dumont isn’t sure whether or not these changes are emotional or biological, she’s sure that Polaris is now stronger for it. While her powers changing may be because of her baby, the way she thinks has also been altered.
Dumont describes the old Polaris as a lone-wolf. But, now, she's beginning to think of her child and all of their collective futures.
"When she used to look at young mutants, she just saw young mutants, young kids," Dumont says. "Now, she looks at them and sees a younger version of herself, or she sees her own kid in them. She she takes on a more motherly role. She wants to change their lives."
Lorna tells Marcos in The Gifted that Aurora would be a good name for the baby. It's an interesting choice for the show to suggest, because Aurora already exists in the comics. Aurora is a name of an X-Men character who has a twin brother Northstar, known for being the first openly gay superhero in comics after coming out in 1992. While Dumont says she would have loved to play out that story in the series, she doesn’t think Polaris will have twins, nor even the specific Aurora from the comics.
“I so wish,” she says. “I desperately want Polaris to have Aurora and Northstar, the first homosexual mutant. Like of course, that would be amazing, that would be everything. But I don’t think she’s going to have twins, and I don’t think it’s him.”
Polaris' story isn't setting up Northstar, but The Gifted does lean into social issues and political topics of the day. In fact, Dumont says specifically imagery associated with racial tensions in the U.S. influenced an upcoming episode.
“There was a scene where it was written in that this group of bigots were using tiki torches," she says. "You know, which is a very specific reference to obviously current events.” (White supremacist protestors carried tiki torches during the August demonstration in Charlottesville.) The actor promises that the series is going to continue to address bigotry and prejudice against minorities, and that those themes will only intensify as the season progresses.
Polaris herself will have to deal with questions of intolerance and how far effective resistance should go, prompted by her connection to Magneto. And, according to the actor, more of her origin story will be told before the season is over.
“In the finale, we sort of see the origins of where the Mutant Underground came from, as far as Polaris and her story," Dumont teases.
The actor also hints that Polaris will continue to struggle with good and evil, so who knows? Perhaps it was the X-Men who set Polaris on the path to founding the underground… or maybe the orders came from her dad. As her own powerful, independent person, Lorna Dane will have to decide just who she is going to be.