Legion will represent a milestone for Fox when it hits their FX network next year. Until now, Fox has primarily focused on movies when it comes to the properties they've licensed from Marvel, whether it be the X-Men or the Fantastic Four. Now they will have a chance to open up an entirely new revenue stream by taking on the space that has been dominated by The CW's slate of DC-based shows along with the Warner Bros.-produced Gotham, and Marvel's handful of shows scattered throughout ABC and Netflix.
The pressure is on Fox not to shoot themselves in the foot with a weak first showing, but with Fargo's Noah Hawley behind the wheel and an impressive first trailer to whet fans' appetites, it may be time to be optimistic about Legion's chances. It also helps that Fox has had some help from Marvel in producing the show, which could be a sign that the allegedly icy relationship between the two companies over X-Men licensing is finally thawing a bit.
For his part, Hawley has operated with very little visibility to the Marvel/Fox feud and has found the collaboration process to be beneficial. IGN spoke to Hawley recently and asked him if having the likes of Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, and Jeph Loeb involved made things difficult in developing the show, but he saw it as quite the opposite:
"No, you know, it’s all new to me, and everyone has gotten along so well that I’m not really familiar with what the underlying issues were. But I think that what’s been very rewarding for me is that because everyone has come together because they are passionate about the material and so if there is a prior conflict, I don’t know about them. I just find that everyone is together and they’re very excited about what we’re doing... So, in an abstract way, it began to be clear to me what the show wanted to be, and it’s great to have that sounding board and then to have Marvel as well as a resource. There’s obviously a rich history to this world and these characters, and they have a business model that works very well for them."
The movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Fox's own X-Men movie universe have had significantly different tones and styles, so one question is whether Legion will follow either of those templates. As the Comic-Con trailer showed, though, Legion will have its own style that's quite different from what audiences have seen from the movies. Hawley talked about the show's aesthetic and compared it to one of the most stylish shows in recent memory: NBC's Hannibal:
"It has its own visual aesthetic to it, and part of that is being a story kind of out of time and out of place. And the design of a show has to have its own internal logic... Hannibal... is a great example of something that had this almost fetishistic beauty to everything that you saw, whether it was food or violence. Once we started going down a path of a sort of, for whatever reason, mid-60s British design aesthetic, you have to follow that down the rabbit hole. But those visuals are really powerful. I think that’s why the comics resonate so much, and why those characters are so easy to reinvent by new artists, because suddenly it looks different – it looks completely different. When Frank Miller comes in, that’s a different Batman, you know?"
With a proven showrunner at the helm and acting talent like The Guest's Dan Stevens and Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza on the other side of the camera, there is a lot to look forward to with Legion. Its placement on FX rather than FOX means there's more creative leeway to play around with and the ratings expectations will be lower. No doubt Fox hopes this will lead to it being a surprise critical success on par with other FX shows such as Hawley's Fargo as well as Louie and The Americans, but time will tell if that ends up being the case.
Legion is expected to arrive on FX in early 2017.
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