MCN Review: FX's 'Legion' Reimagines Marvel X-Men Character

FX has had success reimagining established franchises such as Fargo and tailoring them to fit its “fearless” approach to scripted-series making. Legion certainly fits that bill.

Legion is based on a Marvel comic book character derived from the X-Men franchise, but bears little resemblance to the X-Men movies, or any other comic book-derived TV series for that matter.

The series stars Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as David Haller, a troubled and seemingly mentally ill young man who throughout his life has struggled to make sense of his life and surroundings. The pilot starts off with a visually arresting medley of David’s early childhood, mixed with memories of traditional childhood activities and very violent disturbing events borne from his uncontrolled psychosis. David is eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and housed in a psychiatric hospital.

A diet of prescribed medications tempers David’s afflictions somewhat until he meets another hospital patient, Syd (Rachel Keller), who begins to unlock some of the mysteries of David’s mind.

In the pilot, Legion producer Noah Hawley (Fargo) tries to put the viewer into David’s world through a wild and visually alluring trip through how David perceives — and often confuses — the real world with his imaginary voices. Throughout much of “Chapter 1,” viewers themselves may be unable to rectify what’s real and what’s imagined. But if viewers are willing to stay patient and engaged through the often confusing twists and turns within the first three-quarters of the pilot, they will be rewarded toward the end as David begins to realize that he may not be as sick as people made him out to be and not everyone he comes in contact with has his best interests at heart.

Legion fans will like FX’s interpretation of the Marvel franchise, while the series should hold the interest of non-comic book aficionados who like a good psychological-themed, fantasy drama.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.