Fox's second X-Men TV series, The Gifted, is proving to be a remarkable success. It doesn't feature any of the major X-Men characters we're used to seeing, and instead is set in a timeline where Marvel's merry mutants have been missing for years. That doesn't mean some of the more prominent characters couldn't make an appearance as the series goes on, though. In fact, The Gifted is perfectly positioning itself to introduce one particular mutant: Rachel Summers.
Who Is Rachel Summers?
Currently working under the codename Prestige, Rachel Summers is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey in the dark, dystopian "Days of Future Past" timeline. In this reality, the assassination of Robert Kelly led to a surge in anti-mutant sentiment, and the world soon wound up policed by the android Sentinels. Rachel was forced to work as a Hound, a mutant who tracked other mutants for the Sentinels. Tragically, her psychic powers allowed her to link with the minds of those she was pursuing, and she fell into ever-deeper despair. Rachel ultimately lashed out at her handler, Ahab, and was sent to an internment camp as punishment.
In the comics, Rachel became an ally of the X-Men of her time, and even launched a desperate plan to change the past. She used her powers to project the mind of Kate Pryde back to when she was just a teenager, launching the famous "Days of Future Past" arc. Although Fox has already adapted this into a blockbuster movie, they substantially rewrote the plot, and Rachel's character was removed from the story.
Kate was successful in changing the timeline, but to Rachel's horror, her reality didn't cease to be. She ultimately learned that she'd inadvertently sent Kate's consciousness back into an alternate timeline (the mainstream #Marvel continuity), and after a brush with the Phoenix Force, Rachel was dragged back to that timeline too. She remains a powerful and important member of the X-Men to this day, and is currently one of the stars of Marc Guggenheim's X-Men: Gold.
Why Would 'The Gifted' Introduce Rachel Summers?
Intriguingly, The Gifted seems to be heavily inspired by the "Days of Future Past" timeline. Anti-mutant sentiment is rife after an unspecified disaster of the past, one that seems to have involved both the X-Men and the Brotherhood. Granted, the Sentinels have been heavily redesigned for this series, but they're still there after a fashion.
Back in September we learned that The Gifted would introduce a character named Roderick Campbell, a mutant researcher who's working to police the mutant race. He's a significant figure in Rachel's timeline, as he became founder of the Hound program - the effort to use mutants to track and capture other mutants. The fourth episode of The Gifted, ""eXit strategy," revealed the first Hound, Pulse. His ability to neutralize mutant powers in the area made him an invaluable asset to Sentinel Services.
In the comics, Roderick Campbell ultimately became Rachel's handler. He was badly injured when she lashed out in grief, and transformed himself into the ruthless cyborg known as Ahab. Fans are already expecting Ahab to be the main villain of The Gifted, and if that's the case, Rachel would fit perfectly with the arc.
The Gifted already has a strong theme of legacy with the mutant underground living in the shadow of the #XMen. Showrunner Matt Nix has already confirmed that Polaris will learn that she is Magneto's daughter, just as in the comics. In thematic terms, it would make perfect sense for The Gifted to go on to introduce the daughter of Cyclops and Phoenix.
It's too soon to say for sure whether or not The Gifted will choose to take this course. At the very least though, the potential is there, and Rachel would be a comfortable fit for this show's dark direction. The character's history is surely too complex to fit her into the movies anytime soon, especially with Deadpool 2 set to introduce Cable, but she'd work well in this series.
Do you think The Gifted should introduce Rachel Summers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!