Superhero films and TV shows are a dime a dozen, but there's something special about a superhero offering rooted in history (like Wonder Woman or Captain America). And FOX's new offering, The Gifted, is another show that has tangible roots in American history. The series, produced in tandem with Marvel, follows a suburban couple whose children possess mutant powers. These X-men of sorts are forced to run from a government who wants to capture them. To evade prosecution they join an underground network of mutants who must band together in order to survive. Sound familiar? It might, because The Gifted is based off of the Civil Rights Movement and the underground railroad.
"Being a mutant is socially unacceptable," explains Natalie Alyn Lind, who plays one of the mutant kids, during roundtable interviews at Comic-Con 2017. "My character finds out she's a mutant at a young age. She doesn't want people to think of her differently. [Today], a lot of people are looking for acceptance or help, and our show represents that."
The show, which premieres Oct. 2, is following a long tradition of X-men comics hoping to shed light on social injustices. Stan Lee, who created the X-men in 1963, has spoken about his intentions with this motley crew of characters. "The whole underlying principle of the X-Men was to try to be an anti-bigotry story to show there's good in every person," Lee said during a press conference at Fandomfest in 2013.
And this is a message the entire cast is rallying behind. Emma Dumont, who plays mutant Lorna Dane — otherwise known as Polaris — echoes what Lee said years ago.
"This show is about bigotry, I'm just gonna say it," she says. "We see it in the first episode when [my character] is running for her life, and cops could easily kill her... because of prejudice, because of something people are uncomfortable with, that they don't understand. It is heartbreaking but I hope this show throws a mirror on society. It's worth talking about."
Dumont explains how portraying these characters resonated even more because of the show's filming location. "We're shooting in Atlanta, and we love shooting in Georgia because it was such a big part of the Civil Rights Movement. Our mutant underground is based on the underground Railroad," the 22-year-old explains.
Considering that at the show's core is a very dark time in American history, I'd wager that viewers can expect to shed a fear tears over the course of the series. But The Gifted isn't supposed to be a history lesson, but rather a reflection of contemporary society and the inequalities and prejudice that still exist.
"We aren't trying to hide it, we're not being cute, this is for real," Dumont says. "These are the issues we want to talk about."
"It's a great way to tackle issues that are happening in our own world without being preachy about it," adds actor Coby Bell, who takes on the role of Jace Turner.
Boasting supernatural elements and superhuman beings, The Gifted may be a series firmly planted in fiction, but as the show's cast professes — its message of acceptance is as timely as ever.