Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. have both laid down their roots pretty successfully in the TV world when it comes to their comic book properties. Twentieth Century Fox, in comparison, has yet to make use of its ownership of the X-Men movie and TV rights when it comes to the small screen. That is set to change however, with the eventual arrival of Legion and Hellfire.
Legion is being developed for Fox’s FX cable network, and with it comes someone who is familiar with FX: Noah Hawley, who previously created the Fargo TV series for the channel. Hawley has been brought on board to write the pilot for Legion, as well as act as an executive producer. Writing the pilot episode gives him the opportunity to influence the style and tone of the episodes that follow it, and if a recent interview is any indication, Hawley has some ideas for how he wants the show to turn out.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Hawley provided some insight into what he expects out of Legion, and what he expects is not a typical superhero TV show. Rather, the unique title character of the show offers an opportunity to explore a story not seen elsewhere in the genre:
“I always feel like the structure of a story should reflect the content of the story. If the story, as in this case, is about a guy who is either schizophrenic or he has these abilities, i.e., he doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not real, then the audience should have the same experience.”
Hawley said he wants the show to have”more existential exploration” than a typical superhero TV show and a “surreal or dreamlike quality where it’s not just about running and kicking.” With the explosion of other comic book-based TV shows in the last few years, he sees the need to stand out from the crowd:
“There’s, whatever, 9,000 superhero stories right now. They’ve got all the running and kicking covered. I think my goal with this is to do something whimsical and imaginative and unexpected. Not just because I want to do something different, but because it feels like the right way to tell this story.”
While some might object to the characterization of a story dealing with schizophrenia as “whimsical and imaginative,” Hawley doesn’t seem to mean “whimsical” in the Garden State, screaming-into-the-abyss sense of the word. That is evidenced by the fact that he then referenced Mulholland Drive, a TV-pilot-turned-movie that is not exactly light-hearted in tone:
“What is it really like to hear voices or to be able to move things with your mind or to think you can move things with your mind, but you’ve been hospitalized and they’ve been talking you out of the idea that you can actually move things with your mind. If there’s one thing that television doesn’t really do, and has never really done, is to tell a surreal story. I would have loved to have been in the room with the ABC executives when they watched David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive TV pilot. You know that had to be a long silence after that thing stopped.”
Hopefully Legion does not meet the same fate as Mulholland Drive, as that particular series never made it to air. If Hawley and crew can bring some of the visual inventiveness of a typical David Lynch movie to Legion, though, it could end up being a very interesting TV show indeed, and one that easily sets itself apart from its comic book-based peers.
Dates have not yet been set for the FX’s Legion and FOX’s Hellfire (working title) pilots.
Source: Vanity Fair