While Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage thrive on Netflix — and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD struggles to stay afloat on ABC — Marvel Studios tackles a new TV series for FX titled Legion, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The show, utilizing many of the producers and writers from the X-Men and Deadpool films, features Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) in the titular role, with Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and Jean Smart (Frasier, Fargo) as co-stars.
What follows are the noteworthy details that have been revealed about Legion, which debuts on FX later this week.
The Legion Trailers
Based on the first official Legion trailer released by Marvel Entertainment (see below), it’s clear that the central character has some very strong telekinetic powers, and those around him assume that he’s mentally unstable.
A trailer released later by FX shows how Legion’s story fits into the wider X-Men world, as they talk about the government’s interest in eliminating mutants that they can’t control. Jean Smart’s character appears to be either the Xavier or Magneto of the show.
Legion in Marvel Comics
As detailed at the end of New Mutants #25 (1983), David “Legion” Haller’s father is actually Charles Xavier (initially unknown to the leader of the X-Men). He has powers that include telepathy, telekinesis, and pyrokinesis. As revealed in New Mutants #26, Legion is autistic, schizophrenic, and incapable of controlling his fire-related powers.
Also, as noted by his official Marvel Comics profile, his multiple personalities present him with new mutant powers, which ultimately leads to several time-traveling story arcs in which Legion tries to go back in time to kill Magneto, but Legion himself dies at the hands of Bishop in the end.
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Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart
Aubrey Plaza is set to play Lenny Busker, while Jean Smart plays the role of Melanie Bird. Both of these characters were created specifically for Legion, so the only biographical information available is what the show has given to the press.
According to the initial press release from Marvel, Plaza’s Lenny Busker is an “impossible optimist despite her rough demeanor” and history of drug abuse. She is a friend to David and helps give him a “likable energy.” Aubrey Plaza is best known for playing April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, in addition to her roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Safety Not Guaranteed, Dirty Grandpa and voicework in Monsters University and Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.
The same press release described Smart’s Melanie Bird as a therapist who is both nurturing and demanding. More interestingly, it notes that she uses “a sharp mind and unconventional methods,” which is to be expected for anything related to the X-Men. Jean Smart is best known for her roles as Charlene on Designing Women, Lana Gardener on Frasier, and Floyd on Fargo.
To his credit, before playing David Haller on Legion, Dan Stevens played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey, and won a Saturn Award for Best Actor for his starring role in 2014’s The Guest.
Legion in the X-Men Universe
As noted by MTV, creator Noah Hawley said that Legion is set “far enough away from the X-Men movies” that it’s clearly distinct and exists on its own, “but it still lives in that universe.” Unless someone other than Charles Xavier is confirmed to be David’s biological father in the show, there’s always the potential of Professor X showing up on Legion. If the show is a success, it only seems logical that cameos, tie-ins, and even full-on crossovers between Legion and X-Men — or even Legion and Deadpool — will at least be considered by Fox, even if it nothing ever comes of it.
So, for the first eight episodes, it seems safe to assume that fans won’t be treated to any tie-ins more significant that the way Luke Cage and Daredevil casually mention the activities of The Avengers. In fact, as reported by Complex, producer Lauren Shuler Donner said that the show is really in its “own universe.” The chronology of the X-Men films has been hard to follow, with the upcoming Logan and 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine technically set in their own timelines. Since there are “so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that,” they decided to tell Legion’s story separate from those other narratives.
While it’s certainly possible that the show could eventually be tied to one of the prior or future films in the X-Men Universe, nothing like that is planned for the premiere season.
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Where to Watch Legion
Legion is scheduled to debut on FX this Wednesday, February 8 at 10/9c.
[Featured Image by FX/Legion]