The Quiet Success of the 'X-Men' TV Universe

Erin Graham ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Ever since Iron Man kickstarted a relaunch of Marvel film content, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has only ever grown, begetting movie after movie throughout the past decade. They have since made three Iron Man movies, crafted the first female-led superhero movie of their cinematic universe, and reclaimed the rights to the elusive Spider-Man. Their vast world-building can perhaps best be summed up by the grandiose titles of their next two Avengers films: Infinity Wars. It’s unclear how the franchise can top the concept of infinity.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, is predated by the X-Men franchise, a much less stable and popular movie world. It might seem needlessly contentious to pit the two franchises against each other, but as the two companies, 20th Century Fox and Marvel, have chosen not to reconcile their franchise rights, there’s certainly some precedent. The last X-Men movie, Logan, made $616.8 million dollars globally, whereas the last Marvel movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming raked in $879.1 million. The original trilogy didn’t find solid ground amongst Marvel fans, and while critics heralded Logan as a success, they considered the last X-Men ensemble movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, a massive flop. But with TV at its peak viewership, distribution, and quality levels, the X-Men franchise is starting a quiet rebirth.

Sir Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman in ‘Logan’. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Legion, the show about a mutant finding community among other people with powers while facing horrific internal strife, was a hit the moment it aired in February. Its cerebral themes and stunning execution led to a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a second season. It found a home at FX, whereas the newest X-Men show, The Gifted, has begun to air on FOX. At the time this article was published The Gifted has a 74% approval rating with just three episodes released of its first season. This show focuses on a family dynamic and is far more grounded in the ethos of most superhero narratives we’ve seen thus far, featuring young kick-ass kids trying to navigate the world and its evil.
In a media world saturated with Marvel films and TV shows, both of these new shows seem to be the nascent beginnings of an X-Men rebirth on the small screen, which almost fits the latter franchise’s scrappy spirit. The Avengers are full of gods and billionaires and technocrats; the X-Men have always been a group of fiery youngsters, the mutants a powerful allegory for minorities fighting for themselves against oppression.
Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White in ‘The Gifted’. Photo courtesy of FOX.
The Avengers are important and enthralling in their own ways on the big screen, but it’s time watch the new kids thrive.
The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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