When I saw Legion was airing this year and read that it was another take on the X-Men franchise I was torn between doing an eye roll and a little fist pump.
I love the X-Men movies, even if they did decide to reboot them and start again and Apocalypse and Last Stand were both a bit meh, but I mainly watch them just to see some of my favourite characters come to life.
I’m a huge nerd for Jean Grey and Wolverine and I love Quicksilver. Rogue was my absolute favourite when I was younger and watched the animated series – I wasn’t overly impressed with her inability to fly and simpering in the films – and I always loved Emma Frost and Mystique.
So, for there to be another version of this world on screen I thought to myself ‘they have to do something completely new with it’. And wow, they have.
Not only is it an R-rated series but it’s also one of the most artistic and beautifully shot shows I’ve watched in a while. It’s like Stephen King and Stan Lee had a love child that was styled by Wes Anderson.The main protagonist David is supposedly Professor Xavier’s son, although I don’t think that will be revealed for a while and there appear to be some unsettling daddy issues playing out in the show so far. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been placed in a mental institution by his sister who thinks she’s doing the best thing for him. However, the show questions the concept of mental illness and when David is found by a group who seek to help him control his powers they tell him that he is not ill but that everything he experiences is down to his abilities.
However, as the show progresses this is something we as the audience starts to doubt, David definitely didn’t have the best upbringing and there’s something sinister stalking him in his mind – a demonic (blobby) entity with yellow eyes.To gain control of his powers David is transported into his memories, to make sense of things that have happened in the past and to prove that specific moments were actually his powers manifesting himself not his mind playing tricks on him. However, we soon learn that David is much more powerful than anticipated – with the abilities of telekinesis as well as telepathy – and that there is even more to his gift.
Legion deals with mental illness in a compelling and careful way, however although it presents David with the possibility that his schizophrenia is really a power manifesting itself, it does not appear to be saving him.
David’s love interest, Syd, has powers too. The ability to swap places with a person if touched and so while her and David are discovering their feelings for one another they have to cope with being unable to have physical contact. There is also a mutant who can enter people’s memories but apart from that we haven’t seen much else in the way of powers – so very unlike an X-Men adaptation, where abilities are shown off regularly throughout viewing.However, Legion doesn’t need huge dramatic abilities being shown off to make it a compelling show. The bizarre moments such as random dancing choreography and beautifully styled scenes are enough to draw you in, to leave you wanting more. I cannot recommend this show enough, however I do recommend that you don’t go into it thinking it is an X-Men series. It won’t have any links to any other Marvel cinematic universes or adaptations I believe, it’s a completely original take on the franchise loosely based on a spin off comic series – which I plan to pick up and read.
Have you watched Legion? What did you think?
Legion airs every Thursday at 9pm on FX.