FX’s ‘Legion’ Will Be More David Lynch Than ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’
The reception of this weekend’s X-Men: Apocalypse will surely have a hand in deciding the future of the franchise, but leave it to TV to explore the decidedly weirder corners of the X-universe. Take FX’s Noah Hawley-drawn Legion, which the Fargo showrunner claims will deliver “something whimsical and imaginative and unexpected,” rather than punching and kicking.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Hawley contrasted his vision for Legion (as yet un-ordered beyond the pilot) with that of more “case of the week” superhero movies like X-Men: Apocalypse, envisioning the TV branch as a “more existential exploration.” Says Hawley:
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. [I'm aiming for a] surreal or dreamlike quality where it’s not just about running and kicking. 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.
We’ve got the time, right? It’s not a two-hour movie. It’s an 8- or a 10- or a 12-hour movie. Let’s tell the parts of the story that you couldn’t tell on the big screen. 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.
For those unaware, Legion follows the story of David Haller, a young mutant struggling with schizophrenia and psychiatric incarceration, who soon learns from a fellow patient that his voices and visions may in fact be real. Created for the New Mutants in 1985, the character is also noted as the son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller.
Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens will play David as a haunted man, trying to find his way back to sanity, but tired and about to give up until he meets the girl of his dreams. Aubrey Plaza, meanwhile, will play David’s alcoholic, drug-abusing friend Lenny, who “knows that any day now her life is going to turn around — which gives Lenny the likeable energy of the impossible optimist despite her rough demeanor.”
Fargo alum Jean Smart will play Melanie, “a nurturing, demanding therapist with a sharp mind and unconventional methods,” joining fellow Hawley favorite Rachel Keller as “Syd,” described as “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.
FX also specified the series was likely to feature all-new characters from the X-Men universe, independent of the movies’ continuity. Fargo showrunner Hawley wrote the pilot and serve as an executive producer alongside Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb.
We’ll keep up to speed on the latest details, but what do we make of Hawley’s claims for the new X-property?
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