As you may have heard, the X-Men are returning to TV screens in a live action series on FX. Legion comes from Fargo mastermind Noah Hawley, and after a successful pilot, the show is officially going to series for eight episodes next year. But if all you know about it is that it’s got mutants in it, here’s everything we know so far.
It Won’t Have Anything To Do With The X-Men Movies
You might think, with extended universes being all the rage, that Fox might try to copy the success Marvel has seen with setting TV shows in its movie universe. Instead, FX is taking the DC Comics route: Legion won’t have anything to do with the long-running film series. FX President Jon Landgraf said that it takes place in a different universe:
The series Legion takes place in a parallel universe, if you will, in which the US government is in the early days of being aware that something called mutants exist but the public is not. I wouldn’t foresee characters moving back and forth because they really are parallel universes.
Of course, this doesn’t preclude X-Men we haven’t seen on screen or other mutants, like the Morlocks, from appearing. It’s just that we shouldn’t expect Legion to turn up in Deadpool 2.
The Legion Of The Title Is Professor X’s Son
First introduced by writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz in a 1985 issue of New Mutants, in the comics, David Haller, a.k.a. Legion, is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller, one of the patients under his care as Xavier treats the PTSD of Holocaust survivors. Legion’s mother never tells the Professor she’s pregnant, and why the world’s greatest telepath couldn’t pick up on this is anybody’s guess. David is raised in Israel and has a fairly normal life until he’s caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. That triggers his mutant powers: the ability to absorb minds and any latent mutant abilities they might have. David draws everyone in the attack, including the terrorist leader who planned it, into his mind. This shatters his personality into dozens of shards, each with their own mutant power. They soon begin struggling for control of David’s body.
From what we know so far, the show twists the premise slightly, with David (played by Dan Stevens) being a diagnosed schizophrenic having visions that may or may not be real, according to Marvel’s press release. Nor is he the only mutant potentially in play.
There Are Almost Certainly Other Mutants
Fans of X-Men comics may find the character descriptions a bit familiar. For example, Rachel Keller plays Syd, described as:
Self-sufficient and street smart, she uses her sharp and prickly demeanor to protect her soft core, because even though it makes her a sucker and puts her at risk, she still believes in happily ever after
Many have speculated that Syd is Marrow, a mutant who controls her bone growth. Nor is this the only hero hidden in the cast; Amber Midthunder, for example, plays Kerry, described as a “woman of action.” Even if the cast is who they’re claiming to be, which seems unlikely for a thriller about a man with an uncertain grasp on reality, don’t be surprised if lesser-known mutants turn up on the show.
It’s Got A Killer Cast
Beyond the team we’ve mentioned above, Parks and Recreation‘s Aubrey Plaza returns to TV as the optimistic addict and friend to David, Lenny. Jean Smart, last seen playing a Midwestern crime boss on Hawley’s Fargo, plays Melanie, David’s therapist who uses, in the show’s words, “unconventional methods.” Jeremie Harris is David’s friend Ptonomy; and Katie Aselton of The League has been cast as Amy, David’s older sister and caretaker. It’s an interesting mix of actors and characters.
The main question is how the show will approach mutants and superpowers. David’s journey starts, according to Marvel’s plot synopsis, when he has a run-in with a fellow patient who may have powers of his own, and that encounter hints that David might be seeing latent mutant powers in people or having premonitions of the future. Or, you know, he could just be desperately in need of treatment. We’ll find out next year.