We are Legion
Fx just premiered Legion, a new series based on one of Fox’s many Marvel properties from the X-Men family. But before we talk about that – it was awesome, if you’re wondering! –, let’s take a short look at who exactly this particular character is.
Legion is a mutant in the Marvel universe whose real name is David Haller. He’s the son of Gabrielle Heller and Professor Charles Xavier. First appearing on the pages of New Mutants #25 in 1985, the character was created by legendary X-men scribe Chris Claremont and the inimitable artist Bill Sienkiewicz. Now, what’s interesting about David is that at first glance he looks like he just inherited his father’s telepathic abilities, but it’s so much more than that. In truth, he’s actually an omega-level mutant (which is a Marvel universe term for the most powerful mutants to have ever existed in their fictional world’s history) that has the ability to absorb the powers of any superhuman either through telepathy or if they die near him. Think of Legion as Peter Petrelli; we could even say the latter was inspired by this Claremont and Sienkiewicz masterpiece. Except unlike the main character from Heroes, David Haller has one drawback to his mutant ability: he also takes on the personality of the people he absorbs his powers from, thus giving him a really bad case of dissociative personality disorder.
We won’t be giving too much away here, so if you want to find out more about Legion, we suggest you pick up those old New Mutants issues or read the X-Men: Legacy issues from 2012 written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Tran Eng Huat and others.
Let’s talk about the premiere now! Man, it was good. If there is one word that could summarize the pilot for Fox’s first foray with Marvel characters into the small screen, it’s this: promising. As with any good program out there in any medium that is in serial format, a good first installment always gets its audience hooked by sufficiently presenting what it is all about (such as the premise, themes, and characters) while at the same time leaving just enough room for questions that will hopefully be answered in future episodes. FX’s Legion did just that: it showed us a lot without blowing its whole load, which would otherwise just make it look like a thinly layered cash grab.
From the atmosphere, which although not exactly fresh in popular media with its whole layered reality concepts still manages to keep things exciting by throwing it right at the viewers who by the end of the episode may be speculating as to what is real or not, and right down to its whole set design and direction. If Wes Andersen and Bryan Singer had a baby, this would be it; and lordy, it is wonderful. For a psychological mystery/drama/action/thriller, it’s rare to see such a refreshing take that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is by no means a light-hearted story. It’s great: Legion doesn’t get mired in all the grit and grime that other superhero properties seem to overindulge in.
Lastly, just because it’s a Marvel property doesn’t mean it’s a superhero series. Just look at what Netflix has been doing with the Defenders line. Legion does something along that vein, and perhaps it could even be more. Here’s hoping it will continue its momentum!