Superhero television is all the rage right now. Marvel Studios’ ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is entering its fourth season. Netflix entries Daredevil and Jessica Jones have been incredibly well received, with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and a Defenders team-up on the way (among others). Warner Bros.’ DC TV show entries are popular too, as evidenced by The CW series Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl (formerly of CBS), and Legends of Tomorrow. So it only makes sense that 20th Century Fox, holder of the film rights to the X-Men franchise, would want their own piece of the pie.
Last year, Fox worked out a deal with Marvel to adapt X-properties Hellfire and Legion as live action tv series. Legion began filming in March for FX, and revolves around a mutant whose powers give him a kind of multiple-personality disorder. While the character has a deep and storied continuity in the comics, it appears his identity will be streamlined for the show.
A recent instagram post by showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo) has given us an additional glimpse at Dan Stevens in the starring role:
Simon Kinberg is a busy man, overseeing the Star Wars continuity (films, TV shows, comics, and games) and also acting as executive producer on the X-Men franchise for Fox. He recently discussed the challenge of of bringing the X-Men franchise to television.
Legion marks the first step to bringing a direct connection to the cinematic X-verse to television, and is overseen by Noah Hawley, who’s had tremendous creative success translating the Coen brothers’ film Fargo into an FX series with two distinctive season-long story arcs both interconnected with one another and, slyly and subtly, with the original movie.
This is an interesting development, since it was previously believed that Legion would have no ties to the X-universe of the movies. But that doesn’t mean the show will be just like the films, either:
Tonally, it’s very different. Noah is a genius — he wrote and created and directed the pilot to ‘Legion’ — and it is a very different sensibility than anything we’ve done with the ‘X-Men’ movies. Almost, I would say, as radically different as ‘Deadpool’ was from the mainline ‘X-Men’ movies. ‘Legion’ is, again, in a different direction: really character-based, really granular in terms of getting inside the details of the characters. It stands as part of the ‘X-Men’ universe, but it stands apart from it as well.
In all likelihood, if the Legion TV show does exist in a world filled with mutants from the big screen, it will only pay lip service to the already-convoluted X-Men continuity. It may be difficult for some fans to get excited about Legion as an X-Men spinoff, but at least the creative team attached gives hope that the show may excel at its own thing. With little to go off of, a wait-and-see approach seems the only recourse.
FX has yet to set an official premiere date for Legion, though it is believed to be on track for a late-2016 release.