Let’s all give IGN a round of applause for putting positive spin on Fox’s increasingly desperate situation.
With the X-Men movie universe quietly imploding, it takes a lot of effort to make the studio’s decisions surrounding Legion sound like anything other than grasping at straws:
“Legion delves into the mind of David Haller (Dan Stevens), who is a mutant with abilities but believes he is mentally ill. Though David is famously the son of Professor Charles Xavier in the Marvel Comics, Hawley intentionally separated his version of the character from the main movie series. Instead, the showrunner was more interested in populating Legion with non-Marvel characters to focus his show on the idea of deconstructing a villain.”
Yup, Legion showrunner Noah Hawley has apparently decided to invent a bunch of new original characters for Legion because it somehow serves the story.
This has nothing at all to do with the fact that Marvel has been deliberately killing off the X-Men comic brand, so as to poison the well from which Fox is drawing for its properties.
It’s also not in any way a reflection of Fox’s lack of confidence in the TV series, and an attempt to save the good comic book characters for future movies and in-continuity TV spin-offs.
Legion looks really weird. It’s so far out in left field that it might as well not be playing the same game as everyone else in the Fox camp—which is exactly why this show is its own, separate entity.
It’s kind of like how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can reference Avengers movies, but the actual MCU is never going to give Phil Coulson so much as a nod and a wink.
Of course, Marvel’s television department is actually involved with Legion, but that doesn’t mean much. Firstly, Marvel’s TV show quality is a little more hit and miss than its refined movie formula, and secondly, the studio is very eager to let Fox exhaust itself before Disney swoops in and buys back the rights to their entire catalogue of characters.
“Helping” Fox to make a bizarre show about a guy with mental illnesses that everyone thinks is going to fail, simply speeds up the inevitable X-Men buyout.
And yes, Fox maintains that this plan of creating a brand new set of characters was the aim all along. Here’s producer Lauren Shuler Donner, explaining the logic behind setting Legion completely to one side:
“Hey, there's 54 years of X-Men comics by now, so there are a lot of characters to explore. I actually pitched Noah two different ideas before Legion, but he said, "Yeah, can I take my own character and make up a story?" Of course. This is what he came back with, so the decision actually rested with him to pick that character and that world. We just don't want to repeat anything that we've done in the movies or that we're going to do in the movies. There's so many stories to tell, we just want to stay out of each other's way.”
Yeah, there are many stories to tell, and plenty of characters to explore – which is why making something that’s totally unrelated to anything we’ve seen before seems so strange.
There’s nothing wrong with originality in storytelling, and in coming up with new and interesting ideas, but if that’s the plan with Legion, why connect it to the X-Men stories at all? Why make a series that bears the X-Men name, without any actual connection to any incarnation of the characters that we’ve seen before?
Think of Legion has the television equivalent of Deadpool. Fox is really dubious about its chances, to the point that they’ve already commissioned a second show to take its place when it eventually fails.
The convenience of Noah Hawley’s decision to create new characters and have the show exist in a unique canon, simply serves to make the entire thing easier to cancel when it bombs.
And if Legion does turn out to be a hit? Be prepared for Fox to flipflop, bringing in classic characters wherever possible, forcing the showrunners to use their newly created platform to advertise for movies and shows and anything else they can connect the world to.
Don’t expect to see Charles Xavier anywhere in the first season of Legion.
Fox is holding off to decide whether it’d be worth paying for a Patrick Stewart cameo if this thing takes off.