Live-action comic book entertainment is becoming more common on both the big and the small screen. The CW obviously has a large and ever growing stable of DC shows, not to mention Riverdale and iZombie; ABC has Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., FOX has Gotham and Lucifer, ABC has The Walking Dead and Preacher, and NBC just introduced Powerless, just to name a few, without even beginning to get into streaming shows like Marvel's Netflix lineup. Now Legion has officially joined the party on FX.
Legion is the first ever live action X-Men TV show, said to loosely take place within the same continuity of the larger X-Men universe, although it won't crossover with the movies - at least, not initially. The TV series follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), who's diagnosed as schizophrenic, but soon learns that the voices he hears are actually a result of his telepathic mutant powers.
The first episode of Legion aired Wednesday at 10pm, earning great reviews in the process. However, according to Deadline, Legion's premiere saw the lowest total same day viewership of FX's more recent crop of premieres with an audience of 1.6 million, coming in at 0.8 for adults 18-49. For comparison, Taboo's premiere last month had a slightly larger total viewership of 1.8 million, but a slightly smaller 0.6 in the prized 18-49 age range, and Fargo - Legion show runner Noah Hawley's other show on FX - had 2.7 million total viewers and 0.8 in 18-49. Legion clearly benefits from a larger mix of the coveted 18-49 crowd, but it wouldn't hurt for the show to gain a few more total viewers.
While these numbers are significantly lower than most other comic book shows, including the DC shows on The CW, it's important to note that these numbers don't include DVR numbers. Those could bring the overall rating numbers up a little further, even before the streaming viewership (which could take some time to realize) are given consideration.
With another X-Men show set to hit FOX, FX's sister station, under the supervision of Bryan Singer, Marvel Television likely has a keen eye on Legion's performance. It will definitely be interesting to see if/how Legion's reception affects the development of this second X-Men show.
Despite the lack of big viewership numbers, Legion wowed those that did see it, coming in at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. If the series can keep up the strong reactions from critics and audiences, it might be able to begin closing the gap in the ratings. With so many comic book shows on the air, the demand for better numbers is only going to climb.
Legion continues with 'Chapter 2' on Wednesday, February 15th at 10pm on FX.