There are a lot of superhero television series available right now. And we mean a lot.
Don’t believe us? Just look at the Marvel lineups for Netflix and ABC, as well as the DC Comics offerings for The CW and Fox.
And next month, we can add cable channel FX to the mix when Legion hits the airwaves. Starring Dan Stevens, the series takes place in the X-Men universe, which Fox currently holds the broadcast and film rights to. However, any fans expecting to get a show like they see on The CW or even on Netflix is going to have to think again.
That’s because showrunner Noah Hawley is taking a much different approach to the schizophrenic character who must face the fact that the voices in his heads and the visions that plague him might indeed be more connected to reality than anyone ever imagined.
Marvel executive vice president Jeph Loeb told The Hollywood Reporter he’s aware there are a lot of comic-based television shows on right now. So in order to stand out, you have to do something different.
“Legion redefines the genre in a new way. We get asked a lot: ‘Are there too many superhero shows? Have we reached the saturation point?’
“We have two responses to that: ‘Do we ask those about cop, medical and legal shows? No.’ Secondly, the other idea is Marvel doesn’t start out from a place (where) a person is defined by their powers. This is about what’s happening to David in that world.”
Because this is X-Men, questions have been raised on whether this series will be connected with the film franchise, and if so, how. But Hawley told The Wrap he’s taking a page from his other hit FX series, Fargo, by not revealing too much too soon.
“There is a periodness to the movies, and by hiding the period (on the show), the question is a little more open-ended. Some of that is just to allow us to prove ourselves and stand on our own two feet.
“As we did with Fargo that first year, for the first three hours, there was no connection to the movie at all, so the audience thought, ‘Oh, great. this is working on its own.’ And then in the fourth hour, we introduced the money from the movie. Then suddenly, it was connected. But by that point, we had earned our right to be judged on our own merits.”
Hawley also won’t allow himself to get lost in the fact that this is a comic book story. Because he can focus on a character that is not as well-known as say Wolverine or Jean Grey. Dan Stevens’ character, David Charles Heller, was first introduced in 1985 as the son of Charles Xavier. He has a number of different powers, but are only active depending on the personality that is present at the time.
For example, when he is Johnny Gomorrah, he can turn his enemies into salt. Or when he’s Time-Sink, he can manipulate time.
“The first thought I had in looking at the genre is if we remove the genre, is there a compelling show you want to watch there? The underlying show, no matter the genre, has to be a compelling character story.”
But will it work? That is the big question at this point. And fans will get their first chance to weigh in on Feb. 8 when Legion premieres on FX.
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