FX's Legion is not the TV series that X-Men fans expected. After years of wishing for Marvel's Mutant team to make it onto the small screen, what we'll get is a highly stylized show from Fargo's Noah Hawley, and the trailers suggest it will be strange ride, indeed.
However, before Legion shows us even a single episode of story, we already want it to succeed. Read on to found out why.
SYNPOSIS: "Legion, based on the Marvel Comics by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, is the story of David Haller (Dan Stevens), a troubled young man who may be more than human. Diagnosed as schizophrenic as a child, David has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. Now in his early 30s and institutionalized once again, David loses himself in the rhythm of the structured regimen of life in the hospital: breakfast, lunch, dinner, therapy, medications, sleep. David spends the rest of his time in companionable silence alongside his chatterbox friend Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), a fellow patient whose life-long drug and alcohol addiction has done nothing to quell her boundless optimism that her luck is about to change. The pleasant numbness of David’s routine is completely upended with the arrival of a beautiful and troubled new patient named Syd (Rachel Keller). Inexplicably drawn to one another, David and Syd share a startling encounter, after which David must confront the shocking possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees may actually be real.
A haunted man, David escapes from the hospital and seeks shelter with his sister Amy (Katie Aselton). But Amy’s concern for her brother is trumped by her desire to protect the picture perfect suburban life she’s built for herself. Eventually, Syd guides David to Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), a nurturing but demanding therapist with a sharp mind and unconventional methods. She and her team of specialists – Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), Kerry (Amber Midthunder) and Cary (Bill Irwin) – open David’s eyes to an extraordinary new world of possibilities."
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Stylized Superhero Television
We here at Comicbook.com have been staunch proponents of the idea that TV has surpassed cinema in terms of creativity and originality - and Legion continues to prove that point.
The trailers for the show have been almost all style over actual substance, and Hawley seems bold and unafraid of taking chances with his stylized representation of X-Men mythos.
Legion may not turn out to be the sort of experiment that yields great results for everyone. Nonetheless, we still want it to be enough of a success to convince not just Fox, but every major superhero entertainment studio (DC, Marvel), to take bolder creative chances with their superhero TV series.
Legion has an eclectic cast, but its headliner, Dan Stevens, is someone we've been waiting to see break out as a lead for some time.
Stevens was great in Downton Abbey and really showed off his range in the acclaimed horror film The Guest; he even managed to stand out in the zany crowd of characters in Night at the Museum 3. 2017 is poised too be a big year for the actor: in addition to leading Legion, he'll be starring as the titular furry half of Disney's Beauty and the Beast live-action remake.
Hopefully Legion solidifies Stevens' as a TV star in addition to his impending movie stardom. The small screen needs big stars these days, and Legion has managed to land one of the most talented in the bunch.
One selfish reason we have for wanting Legion to connect with viewers is so that we actually get enjoyment from something new and different in our superhero TV viewing.
Not to say that it isn't a great time to be a superhero and TV fan; The CW DC TV shows are fun, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has matured into a much better show than it began as; and Marvel Netflix offers a darker and more adult perspective on the genre. At the same time, though, all of the above have become rather predictable in terms of their respective "formulas" for telling superhero stories.
Legion looks like it will be something new and original. Hopefully it's fresh material that we also enjoy, and delight in exploring deeper.
X-Men TV Universe
Legion will use Professor Charles Xavier's son David Haller as the entry point into a whole world of Marvel mutants on the TV screen, but it's admittedly a small and isolated example of what could be. As the showrunners have stated, Legion exists in a parallel X-Men Universe where the public is not yet aware of mutants existence; in many ways, the show represents the starting point of a larger saga.
If Legion is a success, then Fox and Marvel will have the incentive to expand the X-Men franchise's presence on television. Even with all the films currently in development (X-Force, New Mutants, Gambit), there are still so many characters and properties in the X-Men canon that can be made into television series. We would like to see more of them make it to the screen.
Marvel Fox Partnerships
One of the more subtle but important things about Legion is that it represents the first real cooperative partnership between Marvel and Fox. While Fox owns the X-Men characters TV/Films rights, they've partnered with Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb (Agents of SHIELD, Marvel Netflix) to bring Legion to the screen.
If Legion turns out to be a success, then the collaborative effort between Fox and Marvel could conceivably extend to more TV projects - and maybe, eventually, hopefully, even a Marvel Cinematic Universe that is complete with all the Avengers characters, Spider-Man and the X-Men.
This show could be the first step towards that Marvel utopia fans have prayed for. What better reason do you need to root for it?