FX's previous X-Men TV series, Legion, was an unexpected (if cerebral) hit. Now the second live-action partnership between Fox and Marvel has launched — Matt Nix's The Gifted — and X-Men fans are eagerly combing through the premiere to spot all of the Easter Eggs we can. From the Stan Lee cameo to a ringtone that made every fan beam with delight, The Gifted has clearly been lovingly made by a showrunner who longs to bring the comics to life.
Let's walk you through all those Easter Eggs...
The main characters will be very familiar to X-Men fans. We're swiftly introduced to:
- Jamie Chung's Blink, a mutant teleporter created in the '90s. Blink is a fan-favorite who's strongly associated with the alternate timeline known as "Age of Apocalypse," one of the most popular X-Men plots of all time. Fan Bingbing played another version of Blink in the future timeline of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
- Emma Dumont's Polaris is a major figure in the X-Men comics. She's actually the daughter of Magneto, and showrunner Matt Nix has confirmed this comic book plot will indeed work its way into the show.
- Blair Redford is playing Thunderbird, a skilled tracker who was one of the "Second Genesis" X-Men. The character didn't last long in the comics, dying on his second mission when he jumped aboard a plane and caused it to explode by pounding it with his fists. His powerset even includes a nod to the classic bird logo that formed part of his costume design.
Attentive X-fans will also notice smart homages to some lesser-known mutants. The Mutant Underground includes a version of Eye-Boy (a mutant who developed additional eyes across his body) and Shatter (a crystalline mutant who was harmed by a gunshot, and hence has an impact shape in his face). In the comics, Shatter is traditionally see as a member of the Morlocks, a sewer-dwelling tribe of mutants. We know another Morlock will be a member of the Underground too, the empathic Beautiful Dreamer.
It's easy to miss Hayley Lovitt's Sage, a super-intelligent mutant who's only visible in the background. Sage is extremely popular with X-Men fans, so is sure to become more important down the road.
The Strucker family themselves may well be related to the Von Struckers, a mutant family of neo-Nazi supervillains in the comics. The most notable Von Struckers are the Fenris twins, Andrea and Andreas, but the twins in The Gifted have a notably different powerset. There's an amusing moment when Andy Strucker doodles a wolf; the Fenris was a gigantic wolf in Norse mythology.
The main narrative, of a mutant hunter's children actually being mutants, has never been done in the comics. It all felt quite familiar to fans of NBC's Heroes though, where the dearly-loved Season 1 featured a similar plot.
Just as in the comics, the word "mutie" is a popular slang term used to describe mutants. You'll notice that mutant powers are treated as an act of terrorism, and the police arrest mutants in line with the "Amended Patriot Act." Again, lifted straight from the comics, Lauren explains that mutant powers trigger in moments of stress.
The Mutant Task Force is clearly prepared for Polaris; they already have a plastic cell for her, reminiscent of the one that held Magneto in X2. Polaris manipulates the screws in Reed's knee, in a move that some fans are finding reminiscent of Magneto's famous "too much iron in your blood" scene.
Sentinel Services are introduced as a Federal agency who swoop in and "disappear" mutants. They use drones that are vaguely reminiscent of the feral Sentinels created by Grant Morrison during his New X-Men run, but otherwise don't yet show any sign of being related to the more famous Sentinel androids of the comics. That said, the telltale red lights will be eerily familiar to fans of the X-Men animated series.
The Mutant Underground was apparently set up shortly before the X-Men disappeared, and you'll note that their base was clearly associated with the X-Men at one time. There's even what appears to be a Cerebro door!
Finally, to the delight of X-Men fans all over the world, Eclipse's ringtone was very familiar to anyone who grew up watching the X-Men animated series back in the '90s.
Stan Lee Cameo
Did you spot the Stan Lee cameo? Yup, that's #Marvel's most famous walking out of Tex's Lounge as Reed walks in. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 raised the possibility that all Lee's cameos are connected, and that he's actually an inter-dimensional Watcher's Informant. Is it possible he's popped in to keep an eye on this timeline?
Nix told CinemaBlend that they "moved heaven and earth" to arrange the Stan Lee cameo. Lee happened to be in town for a comic book convention, and the crew headed to the convention to beg his staff to make him available.
"They told us, 'He flies out at four. If you can shoot him in two hours, then you can have Stan Lee in the show.' We didn't have that location. We didn't have anything. We were just like, 'Okay, it's a bar? Do anything you can. We have to get the bar. We have to get the actor out of bed and bring him down here to put the costume on. We have to shoot the scene in 20 minutes!'"
As you can see, the premiere of The Gifted was chockfull of Easter Eggs. Undoubtedly the two favorites are the Stan Lee and the #XMen ringtone, both of which left fans delighted. With so many gifts for eagle-eyed viewers, we can only wait and see what's in the second episode...
Did you spot any other Easter Eggs in The Gifted Episode 1? Let me know in the comments!