FX and Marvel Television’s collaborative effort Legion has debuted to near-universal acclaim. The X-Men TV show has been praised for both its visual and narrative originality and holds an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes after its first episode. “Chapter 1” introduced audiences to David Haller, played by Dan Stevens, whose ambiguous mental state makes for a refreshing uncertainty about the character’s Mutant status. In the comics, David Haller is the son of Professor X, and is himself one of the most complex characters in Marvel’s arsenal.
David suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, which manifests as a host of alternate powers and personalities; a fact which has characters in the show resorting to hyperbole in order to describe him: “the most powerful mutant we’ve ever encountered“. FX has now released a promo for “Chapter 2” that teases a Mutant war and a little more narrative clarity over stylistic prowess. Take a look at the promo, above.
The promo once again highlights David Haller as perhaps the most powerful mutant alive, signalling his importance in the ongoing struggle. It also asks questions of unconventional psychiatrist Melanie Bird, played by Jean Smart, whose “secrets have secrets“. There’s a brief but intimate look at the romantic link between Haller and his estranged girlfriend Syd Barrett, played by Fargo‘s Rachel Keller. It ends with the ominous levitation of Haller following a malfunction in a test lab.
The show thrives on ambiguity, making it a centrepiece of both the narrative and the celebrated visuals, but this promo feels much more concrete than previous trailers. Its more cerebral aspects were highlighted in the run up to “Chapter 1”, but the exuberant style will not hold up to scrutiny without the progression of a coherent plot. Melanie’s declaration of a losing war both moves the narrative of Legion along, and flags up some of the existing ambiguities in the X-Men Universe at large.
There remains some confusion about where Legion fits into the wider X-Men Universe, in which, a multitude of Mutant wars have already been fought and/or erased by the rebooted timeline. Director Noah Hawley claimed that the show is operating in “an invented world“, but the door is open for the show to connect with the film universe. The difficulty in this is that the X-Men Universe is already misshapen and uncertain, with multiple timelines and outlying movies adding content and stories which don’t support the other properties.
Inter-connectivity isn’t the be all and end all for superhero franchises though, with some arguing that the X-Men’s lack of continuity is actually a good thing for the shared universe. It establishes a shared fabric that allows for an anthology of film and television entries that utilize the same material, but are allowed to explore it in vastly different ways. The story of a Mutant war has already been explored and erased and explored again during the run of X-Men ensemble movies, but Legion could actually bring something novel to the formula.
Legion continues with “Chapter 2” next Wednesday at 10pm on FX.