It has been over three months since news first broke of Marvel and Fox joining forces to produce a pair of X-Men TV series, Hellfire and Legion, for FOX and FX, respectively. While the announcement wasn't quite on the scale of say, a full-on Fantastic Four acquisition, it still appeared to be a step in the right direction for the two, leading some to speculate that a closer working relationship could soon be established in the cinematic realm, not unlike Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man agreement.
Hellfire is in a state of turnaround at the moment, having lost its showrunners just a few weeks ago, but the development process for Legion has been picking up some serious steam as of late. After Fargo's Rachel Keller was cast as the series' female lead early last month, FX president John Landgraf confirmed Legion would take place in a parallel universe to the X-Men movies, and would therefore not be a part of the film franchise's continuity. Though the latter announcement may have been a disappointment to some, today's news will likely be a bit more well-received.
FX has now confirmed that Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Dan Stevens (The Guest), and Jean Smart (Fargo) have all joined the cast of Legion, with production on the pilot episode set to begin next month. In addition to the casting announcement, the actors' official character descriptions have also been released:
DAVID (Dan Stevens) - Diagnosed as schizophrenic at a young age, David is a haunted man, trying to find his way back to sanity, but he's getting tired and is about to give up when he meets the girl of his dreams.
LENNY (Aubrey Plaza) - David's friend, who despite a life of drugs and alcohol abuse, knows that any day now her life is gonna turn around, which gives Lenny the likeable energy of the impossible optimist despite her rough demeanor.
MELANIE (Jean Smart) – A nurturing, demanding therapist with a sharp mind and unconventional methods.
SYD (Rachel Keller) – Self-sufficient and street smart, Syd uses her sharp and prickly demeanor to protect her soft core, because even though it makes her a sucker and puts her at risk, she still believes in happily ever after.
The news that Plaza, who can currently be seen sharing the screen with Robert De Niro and Zac Efron in the gross-out comedy Dirty Grandpa, has joined a comic book project should go over well with most fans, especially considering that Legion appears primed to make full use of both her comedic and dramatic talents. The 31-year-old is a natural fit for the series' adult-themed content.
Stevens has been on Screen Rant's superheroic radar since his role in the 2014 thriller, The Guest. In the comics, David Haller is the son of Professor X himself, Charles Xavier, though it is unclear at this point whether or not the series will address his parentage. Jean Smart's casting as an anti-Nurse Ratchett-type is a welcome one as well. The three-time Emmy winner is a welcome talent to any series, and if her work in Fargo season 2 is any indication, she'll be right at home in a series described by producer Simon Kinberg as the "Breaking Bad of superhero stories."
As Legion continues to add to its already impressive cast, it is quickly becoming one of the more exciting new comic book series planned for the coming year. Whether or not the series actually makes its debut at some point in 2016 remains to be seen, but whenever it does premiere on FX, the cast alone might be enough to draw a sizable audience.
FX has yet to set an official premiere date for Legion, though it is believed to be on track for a late-2016 release.