Along with the boom of superhero properties being adapted to film and television, shared universes based on comic book characters have increased in number on both the big and small screens. The CW has their ever-expanding DC Comics TV universe, which is kept separate from Warner Bros’ DC Comics Extended Universe, while ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Netflix’s Defenders shows are all part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, 20th Century Fox is branching out from their X-Men universe to include the television series Legion.
Along with FX and Marvel Television, Legion was developed for TV by Noah Hawley (Fargo) who will serve as showrunner for the series. Legion will follow Marvel Comics character David Haller (Dan Stevens) a.k.a. Legion, a mutant with a form of multiple personality disorder in which each of his personalities has their own abilities. Now, Hawley has discussed the process of bringing Legion to life and how the show relates to the X-Men movies as well as the character’s comic book history.
In an interview with HitFix, Hawley said Legion is “a standalone kind of thing,” confirming previous comments from FX president John Landgraff that the series won’t share the same universe as the X-Men films.
Additionally, Hawley commented on the fact that the character of Legion isn’t as well-known or iconic within the history of X-Men as heroes like Professor X, Wolverine, or Storm:
“Yeah, it’s none of the iconic characters from the movie franchise. I think that’s a strength on some level, because those characters come with rules. It’s hard. You don’t want to be handcuffed, when you’re trying to explore something. The power of making something unpredictable is really an important thing to preserve.”
Certainly, as we’ve seen in recent years with television and movie universes sharing, or not sharing, characters – such as the disconnect between the different aspects of the MCU or The CW’s version of The Flash compared to the DCEU’s upcoming film following the same superhero – there can be pitfalls to adapting certain comic book properties. But, as Hawley indicates, differentiating Legion from the X-Men universe could allow the show more freedom to explore their own world, rather than be caught up in the X-Universe.
Still, comic book fans will likely wonder how Legion can avoid iconic X-Men characters when David Haller is the son of one of the most recognizable Marvel heroes, Professor Charles Xavier. According to Hawley, Legion may not necessarily abandon that particular storyline, saying, “He could be. It’s a different story, but I’m not ruling that out.” So, it seems even if Legion does adapt that aspect of the David Haller character, it will be an entirely different version than that which has appeared in Fox’s X-Men movies.
Speaking more to the tone of the show, Hawley said Legion isn’t rooted in any particular time period, unlike the most recent three X-Men movies, which have taken place in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s:
“It’s a little more of a fable in my mind. If you were to say, “Where is it, and when is it?,” it’s not exactly clear, I think. And a lot of it is because [David Haller’s] not exactly clear. It’s the world as perceived subjectively on some level. The recent X-Men movies, starting with First Class, are rooted in a time period and a world and playing with history in interesting ways. This isn’t doing that.”
Hawley’s comments fall in line with what he previously said about Legion being a surreal story, with viewers left feeling unsure about different aspects of the world because of the main character’s somewhat shaky grasp on reality. Certainly, as Hawley’s most recent comments on Legion indicate, the X-Men-inspired series may revolved on comic book superheroes, but it will be taking the property in a new – and hopefully compelling – direction.
Legion is set to air on FX in early 2017.