The Gifted (2017–2019)
10/10
After many failed attempts and partial successes...
5 October 2017
...Bryan Singer has finally found the right tone for an X-Men based live-action adaptation. Judging from the negative reviews, the main criticism of this show is that we've seen it all before. While that is true for the overall theme, I don't think we've ever seen it in a form that truly captured the spirit of the X-Men that I grew up with in the 1980s, in the same way that Netflix's Daredevil and Jessica Jones managed to capture the essence of their respective comic book templates.

Maybe my judgment and rating are tinged by the nostalgia of a long-time Marvel fan. I have to admit that the writing and directing of this show are not as excellent, original and cinematically bold as that of Legion, another recent Marvel-inspired TV series (in which Singer was involved too, but only as executive producer). But I was pleasantly surprised by the pilot episode, for which I had very low hopes after watching the trailers. I don't think I'm the only aging X-Men reader who felt this way.

I don't need to see big Hollywood stars or high-profile characters like Wolverine or Jean Grey to get into the X-Men spirit. After all, this franchise is not just about Charles Xavier's original team of superheroes; it also deals with the larger picture of a fictional world where a much-stereotyped minority elicits the very same public panic, conservative law and order rhetoric, and human rights-violating policies that we increasingly see in the U.S. and other Western nations. I think the pilot did a wonderful job of capturing this once-futuristic vision that is sadly not so futuristic anymore.

In fact, this episode made me realize that the X-Men franchise with its message of tolerance and inclusion has not only lost none of its topicality, it might be more important today than ever before. The inclusion of worrisome modern realities like the patriot act, high-tech surveillance equipment like drones, and a militarized police force that brutally beats minority individuals to a chorus of "Stop resisting!" were grim reminders of just how much of the comic book writers' dystopia has already come to pass. Here's to hoping that this message isn't lost on those who feel that the superhero genre has nothing new to offer. It doesn't have to when Stan Lee's and Jack Kirby's social message has yet to sink in.
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