Marvel's The Gifted won't 'tiptoe around' Polaris' mental illness

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The Gifted may not be about the X-Men themselves, but it will stay true to the mutants’ comic-book history.

At the series’ New York Comic Con panel Sunday afternoon, star Emma Dumont explained that her character, Polaris, won’t shy away from her print counterpart’s difficult past. Introduced in 1968 as a mutant capable of manipulating metal, Polaris was later revealed to be Magneto’s daughter and to have inherited his history of mental illness, suffering recurring mental breakdowns throughout her stories.

“We definitely don’t tiptoe around that,” Dumont said. “She’s untreated, she’s unmedicated …. You will see her have very, very high highs of manic behavior and very low lows of depression, of crippling depression.

“Something we’re treating respectfully is she’s not just ‘the crazy girl,’” Dumont added. “Through her history, a lot of people have [called her] the crazy girlfriend. We’re showing her the respect that I think she deserves and take her seriously.”

Fans at the packed panel were also assured that the show, which centers on two parents (played by Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker) on the run with their mutant children (Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White) from government officials, wouldn’t be a black-and-white story about the good guys — the mutants and the Strucker family — fighting the bad guys who work for Sentinel Services. Going forward, even Agent Jace Turner (Coby Bell) will reveal a complicated past. “We get into the history of this guy pretty early on,” Bell explained. “He had a horrible tragedy that happened in his life that sprung him into being a member of the Sentinel Services. Yeah, he’s the bad guy on the show, but the writers have set him up to be where he’s not bad guy, he’s just a guy doing his job.”

Executive producer Melinda Hsu Taylor agreed: “There are some more people coming who will make Jace look more sympathetic, I’ll leave it at that.”

After all, the mutant and human characters in the X-Men universe have always represented the real-world oppression of minority groups and outsiders — and that debate isn’t a simple one to tackle. “Our show is very timely,” EP Lauren Shuler Donner said. “It’s about people who are unwanted, people who can’t get in, and people who are outcasts.”

The Gifted event also screened the first 15 minutes of the second episode, which saw a flashback to a Strucker family outing gone wrong, Blink (Jamie Chung) succumbing to the consequences of having used too much energy saving the Struckers in the pilot, and Polaris spending her first day as a mutant in jail.

The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

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