While the previews might not make it crystal clear, FX is entering the superhero world with its new series Legion. The character Legion is from Marvel's X-Men comics, but the people behind the series have been very vocal about the fact that Legion is not dependent on the film franchise. Yet, while the new FX series from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley has created its own world separate from the major Marvel franchise, Legion could possibly connect with X-Men eventually in some capacity.
If you're unfamiliar with the character Legion, his real name is David Haller and he was first introduced in 1985 as part of the X-Men spinoff comic book series New Mutants. On the show, David is portrayed by Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast fame) and he is diagnosed with schizophrenia, but his mental illness might actually be a manifestation of his mutant powers. Beyond his extreme powers, what makes Legion so fascinating is that he is the illegitimate son of Professor Charles Xavier. Knowing that Professor X is Legion's father in the comics has understandably led people to wonder if FX's series will fit into the realm of the X-Men movie franchise.
On whether or not there will be crossover between Legion and X-Men, creator and executive producer Hawley told Variety:
"I think it's important for us to establish this as a fully realized world with fully realized characters ... It does connect and it can connect, but I'm not relying on that. I have to prove myself. I have to prove that the show is good enough to incorporate those elements from the movie world, if that were ever possible."
Despite the fact that Legion "can connect" to X-Men, Season 1 won't really have too much in common with the Marvel movie franchise. Yes, some props from the X-Men films might be in Legion, as Legion production designer Michael Wylie told Canada's The Globe and Mail, but you won't be seeing the familiar characters from the films in the TV series. And Hawley doesn't strictly follow the Legion stories from the comics either.
As Hawley has some experience taking a movie and then adapting it to be its own unique TV franchise, he compared his Fargo process to what he did with Legion to Variety:
"With Fargo, I'm going to tell you a story, and it's going to feel like you're watching a Coen brothers movie ... And here I'm going to tell you a story and it's going to feel like that world that you love and those comics that you love, yet because it's not based on material that you know, you don't know what's going to happen."
This idea that it will "feel" like X-Men, but not be directly related to the franchise is something that others involved in the production of Legion have also stated. Lauren Shuler Donner, who worked with Hawley on Legion and produced the X-Men movies, told IGN that the series is its own world and the films will "not worry about Legion." She explained:
"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.
Bryan Singer, who has directed a number of the X-Men films (including X-Men and X-Men: Days of Future Past), is an executive producer on Legion. He will also be directing the pilot for an X-Men-related TV show for FOX and he told Access Hollywood at the Legion premiere:
"The whole idea behind these shows ... is they have to be standalones. They have to exist outside of the universe that the movies inhabit."
Singer said Legion is a "nod to this magical universe" of X-Men and this echoed what he had said at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August 2016. AsThe Hollywood Reporter noted, Singer said Legion was designed to be "part of the X-Men universe, but when you watched it, you wouldn't have to label it — it could exist completely on its own."
Yet, Hawley isn't opposed to connecting his TV series with the greater X-Men universe at large at some point. That doesn't mean you should expect to see Professor X actors James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart in Legion when Season 1 premieres on Feb. 8 though. As Hawley said in his Variety interview:
"It's sort of a non-starter to say James McAvoy's going to be in my show ... I'm not saying never, but certainly not in the first year of it. You'd have to pay those guys so much money to begin with. You'd have to pay them movie money in a different medium."
The Marvel franchise is not unfamiliar with having movies related to X-Men, but not living in the exact same world, like with Wolverine's spinoff films and Deadpool, and Legion will take that practice to a whole new level. However, if Hawley has his way, Legion and X-Men will be united one day. As he said at New York Comic Con in October 2016, "My hope is to create something that is so strong that the people at the movie studios call up and say, 'We'd be foolish not to connect these two things.'"