Legion was only the beginning. Fox's mutants are invading the small screen in full force in The Gifted, a new show from Matt Nix and Bryan Singer which follows a family on the run from the mutant-hating government. The first trailer has dropped, and it's teasing a complex plot, with some comic-book faves making their debut (hello, Polaris) while some familiar faces — like Days Of Future Past's Blink — return. And as with any addition to the #XMen live action family, we're forced to ask: does The Gifted exist in the same timeline as the movies? If so, which one?
Ever since Days Of Future Past rebooted the franchise, the X-Men movies have been plunged into a whole new timeline. Officially starting with Apocalypse, upcoming movies like New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix are set in this new timeline. Deadpool also seems to take place in this continuity. It can be difficult to keep track of, which is why we spent countless hours debating canon and pulling apart the movies to create this video. You're welcome.
So... what does this mean for The Gifted? In the trailer, it was established that the world knows about mutants, and the US government is waging a war against them, capturing any rowdy mutants they can get their hands on. Then came this, very intriguing, line:
"The X-Men, the Brotherhood, we don’t even know if they exist anymore."
Considering The Gifted takes place in modern day, this simple statement throws up a whole multiverse of complications — because we know that at this point in the timeline, the X-Men are alive and well.
Timeline A Or Timeline B?
We know this, because Deadpool is also set in modern day, and that movie established a few things about the X-Men: They're a well-liked superhero team that operates out of the X-Mansion, using the Blackbird jet to zip around the world. But The Gifted seems to be set in a world where the X-Men have become little more than an urban myth — along with their adversaries, Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants.
This would imply that The Gifted is set in a different timeline entirely, or maybe even in the first timeline before the reset. The modern day setting is unfortunate — the X-Men having gone the way of the Jedi would totally work for a show set just before Logan. Wolverine's final movie established that the X-Men had perished thanks to one of Xavier's psychic seizures (known as the Westchester Incident), and the world had mostly forgotten them. Yet, The Gifted takes place in 2017, and the Westchester Incident occurred in 2028.
Unfortunately, when we look to showrunner Matt Nix for answers, his response only confuses things further. Here's what he told IGN about how The Gifted relates to the films:
"The movies, which take place from whatever, they started in 2000 to now... they don't all line up perfectly. You know what I mean? So it's not like, I'm not slavishly fitting myself into a particular slot. But at the same time, if you like that world, if you like the world of the movies, there are definite nods to it. It definitely exists in the same general kind of universe, if that makes sense. [...] It acknowledges that events like the events that have happened in the movies have happened, you know what I mean? But it's not to date... it's still evolving."
It seems that Nix wants to keep The Gifted's place in the X-Men continuity as vague as possible, and he hasn't addressed the apparent clash with Deadpool — or why the X-Men and the Brotherhood just up and vanished.
Or, it could be that The Gifted exists in the first timeline, the one that was rewritten at the end of Days Of Future Past. This might explain the absence of the X-Men after the events of Last Stand (though we'd have to assume the miraculously-resurrected Xavier got the band back together a decade or so later). This would also explain the existence of Sentinels in The Gifted — maybe the small spider-like machines are one of Trask's prototypes, like the mutant-killing robots that we saw in Days Of Future Past?
Of course there's another, simpler, option.
The Gifted Takes Place In Another Universe
When X-Men exec-in-chief Lauren Shuler Donner was questioned about how Legion and The Gifted fit into the wider continuity, she had an interesting answer for IGN.
"Because we play with so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that, we felt like, OK, we're going to throw it out there and hope the fans accept it. The cinematic universe will not worry about 'Legion'. They will not worry about these TV worlds as all. They will just continue in the way that they have been continuing, and there is some great stuff that we are developing. I can just say it's going to be new and different, and yet 'Legion' and 'The Gifted', we're not going to get in each other's way."
Donner seems to be asserting that Legion and The Gifted are each set in their own universe, both separate from the universe that the main X-Men movies take place in. This evades the problem of timelines, as both X-Men movie timelines exist in the same universe, with the second timeline overwriting the first.
This wouldn't be the first time #Marvel has used a multiverse to explain why certain continuities are separate to each other. So, we can think of Legion taking place in a universe that has mutants but no X-Men, and The Gifted taking place in a universe that had X-Men, but they have now disappeared — in events that may or may not be similar to those which we saw in the movie universe.
Boy, these continuities are so confusing.