‘Legion’ EP Noah Hawley Explains His Plans for the “Surreal” FX Series

     May 27, 2016


As we’ve been hearing about for awhile, FX is getting into the superhero game — potentially — with a very unique project. Fargo creator (of the TV series, that is) Noah Hawley has been developing a series called Legion, whose story ties in with the X-Men universe, but it will stand on its own. Unlike the MCU’s ties to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even (more tangentially) Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Legion seems like it will more of a spiritual brother to that otherwise connected world.

We’ve gotten a few updates in the last few months about the series shooting its pilot, and casting Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens in the lead role alongside Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart, but FX still hasn’t committed to the series yet. Though the network has been providing some of the best and often experimental series on TV, Legion seems like it could be its boldest entry yet. But with Preacher finding its place on AMC, maybe FX will take a chance on it after all.


Image via FX

Vanity Fair has written up a soppy love letter to Hawley, the entirety of which you can read here, but for our purposes let’s focus on the Legion parts. VF notes that Legion will be much more pared-down than other superhero series, and that it will diving into Legion’s mental illness and dissociative identity disorder — each one of his personas controls a different superpower. And when it comes to how he wants to portray that, Hawley wants to get positively Lynchian:

“I always feel like the structure of a story should reflect the content of the story. If the story, as in this case, is about a guy who is either schizophrenic or he has these abilities, i.e., he doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not real, then the audience should have the same experience.” Hawley says he’s aiming for a “more existential exploration” and “surreal or dreamlike quality where it’s not just about running and kicking. There’s, whatever, 9,000 superhero stories right now. They’ve got all the running and kicking covered. I think my goal with this is to do something whimsical and imaginative and unexpected. Not just because I want to do something different, but because it feels like the right way to tell this story.”

Hawley went on to explain,

“What is it really like to hear voices or to be able to move things with your mind or to think you can move things with your mind, but you’ve been hospitalized and they’ve been talking you out of the idea that you can actually move things with your mind. If there’s one thing that television doesn’t really do, and has never really done, is to tell a surreal story.” He continues, “I would have loved to have been in the room with the ABC executives when they watched David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive TV pilot. You know that had to be a long silence after that thing stopped.”


image via Marvel

Hawley has bought a lot of good will at FX, but you can see why such an experimental take might give them pause with how or if to continue with it past the pilot. Being indulgent with a favored son didn’t work out so well for them with Kurt Sutter’s Bastard Executioner, and they surely want to get something as high-profile as Legion right.

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. With FX not yet moving forward on the project, the initial 2016 premiere date seems in doubt, with 2017 more likely if it is picked up. For now, you can check out some of our recent Legion stories below, and let us know your thoughts on the project.