Marvel Television is expanding its already large reach to FX, which has quickly become a prime destination for some of the medium’s best storytelling on shows like The Americans and Fargo. We learned last year that Marvel was joining forces with the X-Men folks at 20th Century Fox to develop a TV series adaptation of Legion, spearheaded by Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley, and now a big casting announcement for the pilot has arrived.
Joining the previously announced Rachel Keller (Fargo Season 2) are Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens, veteran actress Jean Smart, and comedic standout Aubrey Plaza. Smart has a relationship with Hawley having worked on the second season of Fargo, but Stevens and Plaza are new—and exciting—additions to this ensemble.
But that’s not all! We also know who they’ll be playing. Here’s the rundown:
DAVID (Dan Stevens) – Diagnosed as schizophrenic at a young age, David is a haunted man, trying to find his way back to sanity, but he’s getting tired and is about to give up when he meets the girl of his dreams.
LENNY (Aubrey Plaza) – David’s friend, who despite a life of drugs and alcohol abuse, knows that any day now her life is gonna turn around, which gives Lenny the likeable energy of the impossible optimist despite her rough demeanor.
MELANIE (Jean Smart) – A nurturing, demanding therapist with a sharp mind and unconventional methods.
SYD (Rachel Keller) – Self-sufficient and street smart, Syd uses her sharp and prickly demeanor to protect her soft core, because even though it makes her a sucker and puts her at risk, she still believes in happily ever after.
So clearly this isn’t the hunky dory world of Agent Carter, but will instead be more in line with Marvel’s Netflix shows. Indeed, executive producer Simon Kinberg previously told us the aim with Legion is to make something wholly original:
“What I’m seeing on Legion with Noah and FX is an intent to do something completely original in the genre, in some ways to sort of blow up the paradigm of comic book or superhero stories and almost do our Breaking Bad of superhero stories.”
There’s a key difference here, though, and that’s the fact that this is a collaboration between Marvel and Fox, not simply Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb calling all the shots. Hawley wrote the pilot and serves as executive producer alongside Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer of the X-Men universe, with Marvel’s Jim Chory and Fargo EP John Cameron also onboard as executive producers.
This is an incredibly promising cast for what’s shaping up to be an incredibly promising entry in the superhero TV realm. The genre has exploded as of late with the CW’s colorful shows, ABC’s PG-friendly Marvel series, the more gritty Netflix shows, and some other outliers here and there (remember Constantine?), but having someone like Hawley at the helm of Legion adds a considerable degree of creative clout to this series.
Production on the pilot gets underway in March, after which FX will assess and decide whether they’ll be ordering the show to series, meaning we probably won’t see it on the air before 2017. Kinberg, Singer and Co. are separately developing another X-Men series Hellfire at Fox, although that’s been put on the backburner for a bit as its writers moved on to spearhead Fox’s 24 reboot.