FX debuted its first venture into the lucrative world of superheroes on Sunday at New York Comic-Con with a screening of its new series Legion, coming to the network in early 2017.
Legion, based off of the X-Men character of the same name, stars Dan Stevens (last seen to many as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey) as the title character Legion (a.k.a. David Haller): A schizophrenic mental patient, who, it turns out, is actually a mutant with incredible psychic powers.
During a panel at New York Comic-Con, the cast and producers of Legion discussed how they see the new series fitting into the Marvel and X-Men universe and what it means to be a mutant in today’s world.
“The story is more about dealing with the enemy within…than racing toward a battle with an enemy,” said Noah Hawley, the show runner, writer, director and executive producer, whose childhood love of the X-Men comic books inspired him to create Legion. Hawley also created the critically-acclaimed remake of the Ethan and Joel Coen film, Fargo, as a prestige series for FX.
The producers insist that shows that explore differences—“mutant” or not—are pertinent to today’s viewers.
“We live in a world right now where diversity is on our minds 24 hours a day,” said Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel TV and an executive producer on the show. “The X-Men have never been more relevant than they are right now.”
Dan Stevens said playing David Haller, who he calls “a truly insane character,” has been the most intense acting job of his career. “Quite apart from anything else, as an acting exercise this has been one of the wildest rides,” Stevens told a Comic-Con audience.
At its heart, the show’s creators say that Legion is more of a “strong character journey” than a superhero action show.
“Marvel heroes at their core are people who are damaged, people who are trying to figure out who they are in life,” said Loeb. “Whether it’s David Haller or Tony Stark or Peter Parker, we’re much more interested in the person that’s inside the mask as opposed to the mask and the cape and everything else that goes along with it. We just want something that has truth
Legion represents FX’s first foray into the world of comic book-inspired TV and the producers are hoping audiences familiar with the genre take the bite.
“This is our first entry into the genre and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Marvel. FX and Marvel are going to be a great marriage,” Hawley said at Comic-Con.
Hawley left the potential for a film version of Legion open, telling the Comic-Con audience, “My hope is to create something so strong that the people at the movie studios call up.” But he added that right now he loves the “openness” in storytelling for which TV, in particular, allows.
Legion‘s first eight-episode season will premiere on FX in early 2017.