There have been many questions about FX’s upcoming series Legion, which is an X-Men TV series from Fargo creator/showrunner Noah Hawley—except that it’s also kind of not. As opposed to Marvel’s Netflix shows, which very explicitly take place within the MCU and carry a similar tone and aesthetic, Legion is a wholly separate thing that was borne out of pure creativity from Hawley. He hatched the series with producer Simon Kinberg and was given free reign to put his own stamp on what an X-Men TV series might look like, and that is a very impressionistic take on the character of David Haller, the son of Professor X.
In Legion, however, Haller (as played by Dan Stevens) is unsure of his own mental state. His burgeoning mutant powers are treated as a possible psychological condition, as the show takes place in the 1970s. But given the twisty timelines of the X-Men universe and the various different films, fans have been wondering if we’re meant to take Legion as official canon for the X-Men timeline or not.
Speaking with IGN, producer Lauren Shuler Donner—who produced all of the X-Men films and is making her TV producing debut on Legion—explained in no uncertain terms that Legion is wholly separate from the film universe, so that if Professor X is referred to in the show, it’s not the James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart version:
“The cinematic universe will not worry about Legion. They will not worry about these TV worlds as all. They will just continue in the way that they have been continuing, and there is some great stuff that we are developing. I can just say it’s going to be new and different, and yet Legion and our other show, we’re not going to get in each other’s way.”
That other show Donner mentions is an untitled Fox series that hails from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix. That series, while secretive, is apparently more in line with what fans of the cinematic universe might expect:
“Matt’s is much more a part of just the world in terms of there are mutants, mutants are hated and there are Sentinels — though very different from what we’ve seen before. You feel like you’re here in the X-Men world. With Legion, we’re our own universe. It gives Noah the freedom to do what he wants to do. Because we play with so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that, we felt like, OK, we’re going to throw it out there and hope the fans accept it.”
This echoes the sentiments that Legion’s cast and crew shared at the full TCA panel last week, and it’s a smart direction to take. Marvel very meticulously crafted its Marvel Cinematic Universe so that everything lines up, but the X-Men timeline is an absolute mess. To try and craft a show that fits into the incongruous events of the movies would be too restricting, and when you have someone as talented and in-demand as Hawley at the helm, it’s best to just let him run free. The resulting series, hopefully, will be unlike any superhero series we’ve seen thus far.
We’ll find out when Legion premieres on FX on February 8th.