From horror and espionage to Westerns and biker dramas, FX has nearly done it all as a network, but there are still a few genres the network has yet to explore. In February, the network will check off at least one more box when it moves into the comic book arena with Legion, a new drama series based in the world of the X-Men.
Created by Fargo's Noah Hawley, the eight-episode series focuses on the Marvel character David Haller (Dan Stevens), who in comic lore is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. When we first meet David, he's been institutionalized and told he has a mental illness, but by the end of the first episode, he discovers that he isn't schizophrenic but actually has powers. The show will use this reveal to play into the familiar themes of the X-Men, which have traditionally focused on the same issues plaguing minority groups or those labeled outsiders by their peers.
The series is also a chance to bring the X-Men to television and mine some of the characters the film franchise hasn't and will not be using. But the series will also not be directly adapting anything from the Legion comic books, which are not particularly well known.
"I wanted to approach [the show] the way I approached Fargo, which is to say with nothing but respect, but also understanding there were stories that readers and fans were familiar with," said creator Noah Hawley at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "I'm a fan of all the comics and the story lines in them, but for my purposes, there was a story I wanted to tell that I thought would be great using this template."
"One approach would be to take issues 113 through 120 and say that's Season 1," he continued. "I felt what was more interesting to me was to take the concept of this character on some level and then use his subjective reality ... to create something that is a little more of a fable or a parable ... in order to create something unexpected."
One thing that fans can expect, however, is for Legion to dig deep into the battle of perception versus reality as David attempts to reconcile this world-shattering news with everything he thought he knew about his life.
"The stories [of the X-Men] are always about them finding their power both literally and as people, and so if you have these characters who have all been defined one way by society, then it felt interesting to me to make the show about that transition," said Hawley. "It's the same for all the characters: this idea that their power was metaphorical to what their issues were."
Although the development of the series has largely been cloaked in secrecy (come on, it's a Marvel project), Hawley promised that everything will be revealed in time. And to that effect, the cast is already dropping exciting tidbits about their characters.
For instance, Jean Smart, who plays a character named Melanie Bird, revealed that her husband will be played by Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement. Meanwhile, Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder's characters combine as a being, but separate when there is a job to be done.
Legion premieres Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 10/9c on FX.