Time and time again, we’re reminded that viewers are currently experiencing the Golden Age of Television, a reference to the fact that there’s never been a better time for television in its entire short history than right now. This, of course, is a matter of opinion, but there is ample evidence that whatever sort of genre a viewer might be interested in, it’s very likely he or she will find at least one series for that genre that's deserving of their time.
One genre in particular is that of the comic book or superhero. No longer content with ruling over multiplexes around the world, superheroes have moved on to TV screens in a big way – both DC and Marvel have unleashed series after series with Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Supergirl and Daredevil, to name just a few of the options currently available. For the most part, viewers have liked what they’re seeing.
Given these encouraging prospects, it’s somewhat surprising that 20th Century Fox has taken so long to transfer its wildly popular and profitable X-Men franchise to television screens. Fans have been waiting for something to rear its head and word has started to spread about various up and coming X-Men related possibilities. One of those projects in particular is Legion, which is being developed by Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley. In a recent interview with Collider, producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool) spoke a bit about the upcoming FX series and its origins:
"Actually the idea for Legion, it began in conversations with Lauren Schuler Donner and Bryan Singer and Noah me, but I remember I was actually in Moscow last year about to go into a dinner, I was there for the Days of Future Past premiere, and I was sitting in a car outside a restaurant about to go in to dinner. It was really early on in the process, like one of the first conversations, and Noah and I were on a call just the two of us just riffing ideas, and I was sitting outside what I thought was gonna be like a 10 minute call and I ended up sitting out there for three and a half hours, missing the dinner. Everybody had not only had the dinner but went home, and I just got off that call being like, ‘It’s midnight in Moscow but we have to make this show with this guy because he’s so brilliant.’ So that’s really ramping up now, the production’s ramping up to start shooting at the beginning of the year with FX.”
Kinberg had even more to say about the direction he and Hawley are aiming for with Legion and comic book TV series’ in general:
“I mean the thing that’s cool and that’s the hope in branching out to TV is that we can tell these X-Men stories in a slightly different way and even with a slightly different tone. It’s one of the thing we’re kind of doing in the different movie franchises. I mean Deadpool obviously has a very different, almost antithetical tone to the mainline X-Men movies. The X-Men movies are dramatic and almost operatic, whereas Deadpool is irreverent and hysterical and sort of a dirty R-rated comedy in many ways. And Gambit will have its own different flavor and tone to it, will be more of like a heist movie and a sexy thriller in a way. So the TV shows give us an opportunity to go even further and certainly what I’m seeing on Legion with Noah and FX is an intent to do something completely original in the genre, in some ways to sort of blow up the paradigm of comic book or superhero stories and almost do our Breaking Bad of superhero stories."
Legion is the story of David Charles Haller, the mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. After being diagnosed as schizophrenic and entering into an endless series of mental hospitals, Haller meets a fellow patient who helps him to understand that maybe all the hallucinations and voices he’s been hearing aren’t products of his imagination after all.
The idea of opening up the comic book/superhero paradigm and doing something different is admittedly an appealing one. It’s evident that there’s no shortage of passion in Kinberg for this project and that alone increases the possibility of Legion being something worth watching. Exactly what Legion is going to be like is anyone’s guess at this point, but to date no superhero TV series has had the appeal or critical acclaim that Breaking Bad achieved. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but it’s still very early days for the series.
Along with Legion, Kinberg will also serve as a producer of Hellfire over at FOX.