As a result of a horrific accident for which he blames Adam Kane, Mason Eckhart's immune system was completely destroyed, forcing him to wear a white wig, synthetic skin, and gloves in order to prevent infection. Though the details of this accident, called 'Incident X', are never shown in the series itself, more background information is revealed in the Mutant X one-shot comic book Origin.
From the official Mutant X website's FAQ:
Q: Who is the bad guy and is he a mutant?
A: That depends whose side you are on. If you're MUTANT X, your nemesis is Genomex and the GSA as led by Mason Eckhart, who is not a mutant.
Q: If he's not a mutant, then what's the deal with his skin?
A: Mason's immune system was destroyed as the result of an "accident" for which he holds Adam accountable. He wears a synthetic skin to protect himself from germs and bacteria which could make him deathly ill.
Here is Dr. Kenneth Harrison's medical report on Mason from Tribune Entertainment's former faux website, Genomex.net:
ECKHART'S MEDICAL CONDITION
I find Mason Eckhart's reserve of inner strength remarkable considering his medical condition. Most men in his state of health would have been invalids after the first few months of infection, but he has survived years and barely missed a beat. In fact, after scanning Dr. Varady's bi-annual psychiatric report on Mr. Eckhart, he seems to have increased his productivity. There must be a personal drive within him that bypasses modern science. It would not be the first instance of inspiration, positive or negative, fueling a failing vessel to conquest. Eckhart's precise biological situation is this: he has no immune system. Additionally, as the result of "Incident X," his cellular structure is permanently damaged, leaving it incapable of regeneration. If not for Dr. Breedlove's intervening genius, Eckhart would have aged and decomposed within hours of the biological attack. I've viewed the security tapes on record of "X". There is no doubt it was brought on by the confrontation with Adam, but the actual damage done to Eckhart appears to have been a freak accident that could not be replicated. Hence, no remedy. In fact, Adam is fortunate he did not share the same fate but, from what I understand, this kind of outrageous luck is typical for him. Eckhart must wear an exodermis body suit of translucent, bio-treated latex at all times and replace it at least once a day depending on the physical strain of his activities or environmental conditions. His own sweat can be an enemy to his health. The hair follicles on his body have been entirely removed due to the hazards oil and dirt particles could cause him not to mention any type of abrasion or laceration (from shaving, etc…). He must limit his contact with water necessitating laser bathing and all food and external intake must be purified. A heavy regime of nutritional supplements is administered three times a day orally and any waste from when he does partake in a meal is dissolved before it can reach the intestinal tracks through a separate (and certainly painful) x-ray/laser procedure. The cost of this care giving is astronomical but has been budgeted and approved by Genomex and the federal bureaus involved unanimously. I suppose this is a testament to Eckhart's character and performance. He has taken devastating vulnerability and turned it into a reserve of cold steel and efficiency. I cannot help but speculate, however, that Mr. Eckhart operates in a state of denial of his illness fueled by hatred he keeps under his surface. Dr. Varady's reports do not back this up, but I suspect she is a victim of his mesmerizing hold like so many others on the Genomex staff. It would be fascinating to explore whether Mason Eckhart's source of effective power is also his Achilles heel but, of course, I'd have to proceed with utmost care investigating this theory.
Many viewers have pointed out that the white wig has given Mason Eckhart an eerie resemblance to the American artist Andy Warhol. According to an early interview with the actor who portrays Mason, Tom McCamus, the wig was chosen for its creepy appearance, and not for any tribute to Warhol:
The wig is a collaboration idea – FX artists, directors, actor and producers. When we were in the special effects studio experimenting with plastic skin and silicon, we tried on a number of wigs. The white one had the right, creepy feel to it. The one I wear now was made later on, when it was decided that the wig shouldn’t be so wild.... The first day on the set was about getting to know who everyone was and what they did, as well as trying to find the basis for who my character would become. The wig was very comfortable and gave me a good jumping-in [point], establishing Eckhart. Similar to wearing a mask.
More about Mason's protective covering is here.
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