|Created by||Noah Hawley|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||19|
|Running time||44-68 minutes|
|Original release||February 8, 2017 -|
Legion is an American cable television series created for FX by Noah Hawley, based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion. It is the first television series to be connected to the X-Men film series, and is produced by FX Productions in association with Marvel Television. Hawley serves as showrunner on the series.
Dan Stevens stars as Haller, a mutant diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, and Jean Smart also star, along with Katie Aselton during the first season, as well as Navid Negahban, Jemaine Clement, and Hamish Linklater for the second season. FX and Marvel Television announced a new collaboration to create a television series based on the X-Men character Legion in October 2015, with Hawley signed on to write and direct the pilot. He wanted to show Haller as an "unreliable narrator", including mixing 1960s design with modern-day elements, and filming the series through the title character's distorted view of reality.
The eight-episode first season of Legion aired from February to March 2017, and received critical acclaim. An eleven-episode second season aired from April to June 2018. The series was renewed for a third season in June 2018. The third season is set to premiere on June 24, 2019, and will serve as the final season of the series.
David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age and has been a patient in various psychiatric hospitals since. After Haller has an encounter with a fellow psychiatric patient, he is confronted with the possibility that there may be more to him than mental illness. Hunted by the government agency Division 3 in the first season, Haller is saved by a group of mutants at a facility called Summerland, who explain that he is also a mutant. Haller eventually discovers that his mind is infected by the parasitic mutant Amahl Farouk / Shadow King, and is able to force the villain from his mind. In the second season, Haller returns after a year spent trapped in a mysterious orb. In his absence, his Summerland allies have joined forces with Division 3 to stop Farouk's plan to find his real body and amass world-ending power.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||February 8, 2017||March 29, 2017|
|2||11||April 3, 2018||June 12, 2018|
|3||8||June 24, 2019||August 12, 2019|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||1||"Chapter 1"||Noah Hawley||Noah Hawley||February 8, 2017||XLN01001||1.622|
|2||2||"Chapter 2"||Michael Uppendahl||Noah Hawley||February 15, 2017||XLN01002||1.133|
|3||3||"Chapter 3"||Michael Uppendahl||Peter Calloway||February 22, 2017||XLN01003||1.043|
|4||4||"Chapter 4"||Larysa Kondracki||Nathaniel Halpern||March 1, 2017||XLN01004||0.750|
|5||5||"Chapter 5"||Tim Mielants||Peter Calloway||March 8, 2017||XLN01005||0.795|
|6||6||"Chapter 6"||Hiro Murai||Nathaniel Halpern||March 15, 2017||XLN01006||0.732|
|7||7||"Chapter 7"||Dennie Gordon||Jennifer Yale||March 22, 2017||XLN01007||0.716|
|8||8||"Chapter 8"||Michael Uppendahl||Noah Hawley||March 29, 2017||XLN01008||0.812|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|9||1||"Chapter 9"||Tim Mielants||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||April 3, 2018||XLN02001||0.669|
|10||2||"Chapter 10"||Ana Lily Amirpour||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||April 10, 2018||XLN02002||0.439|
|11||3||"Chapter 11"||Sarah Adina Smith||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||April 17, 2018||XLN02003||0.380|
|12||4||"Chapter 12"||Ellen Kuras||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||April 24, 2018||XLN02004||0.434|
|13||5||"Chapter 13"||Tim Mielants||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||May 1, 2018||XLN02005||0.456|
|14||6||"Chapter 14"||John Cameron||Noah Hawley||May 8, 2018||XLN02007||0.353|
|15||7||"Chapter 15"||Charlie McDowell||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||May 15, 2018||XLN02006||0.451|
|16||8||"Chapter 16"||Jeremy Webb||Noah Hawley & Jordan Crair||May 22, 2018||XLN02008||0.409|
|17||9||"Chapter 17"||Noah Hawley||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||May 29, 2018||XLN02011||0.362|
|18||10||"Chapter 18"||Dana Gonzales||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||June 5, 2018||XLN02009||0.467|
|19||11||"Chapter 19"||Keith Gordon||Noah Hawley||June 12, 2018||XLN02010||0.315|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date ||Prod.|
|20||1||"Chapter 20"||Andrew Stanton||Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern||June 24, 2019||XLN03001||TBD|
|21||2||"Chapter 21"||Carlos López Estrada||Noah Hawley and Olivia Dufault & Kate Thulin||July 1, 2019||XLN03002||TBD|
|22||3||"Chapter 22"||John Cameron||Nathaniel Halpern||July 8, 2019||XLN03003||TBD|
|23||4||"Chapter 23"||TBA||TBA||July 15, 2019||TBA||TBD|
|24||5||"Chapter 24"||TBA||TBA||July 22, 2019||TBA||TBD|
|25||6||"Chapter 25"||TBA||TBA||July 29, 2019||TBA||TBD|
|26||7||"Chapter 26"||TBA||TBA||August 5, 2019||TBA||TBD|
|27||8||"Chapter 27"||TBA||TBA||August 12, 2019||TBA||TBD|
After completing work on the first season of Fargo at FX in 2014, Noah Hawley was presented with the opportunity to develop the first live-action television series based on the X-Men comics, of which Hawley was a fan when growing up. Hawley was initially pitched two different ideas for the potential series, including an adaptation of the comics' Hellfire Club, but the ideas did not interest Hawley. Instead, he worked with X-Men film series writer and producer Simon Kinberg to reverse-engineer an idea for the series. After discussing an "interesting show in this genre ... that isn't being done", the two settled on the character of David Haller / Legion. Hawley found the character interesting because of his mental illness, and for the potential of the series to depict his unique mindset. He pitched the series as "a deconstruction of a villain ... and a love story".
In October 2015, FX ordered a pilot for Legion, with Marvel Television and FX Productions producing; FX Productions would handle the physical production. Hawley was set to write the pilot, and executive produce the series alongside X-Men film producers Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, and Kinberg, Marvel Television executives Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory, and Hawley's Fargo collaborator John Cameron.Steve Blackman, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, and Karim Zreik also executive produce. Hawley's initial script for the series was described as "less fractured", "cohesive [and] much more regular." However, he quickly reconceived the series "and decided more Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Terrence Malick, more whimsy, more impressionistic and went in that direction." By January 2016, FX President John Landgraf was confident that the series would be picked up by the network, saying that "the vast majority of things that we pilot do go forward to series" and "the scripts [for Legion] are extraordinary." That May, FX ordered an eight-episode first season of Legion.
In June, Landgraf said that the series, if successful, could run for as many seasons as Hawley feels it needs to tell the story. Discussing future seasons, Hawley said in January 2017 that he was open to continuing the story past the first season, but didn't want the audience to get to the end of the first run and have "no resolution of any kind at the end of it." Star Dan Stevens said, "I know for a fact that there are more issues that David has to deal with than the one that we really address in the first season." Also at that time, Singer explained the executive producers' roles in the series, saying that he, Donner, and Kinberg brought their experience from making the X-Men films, but their involvement generally consisted of giving small notes on scripts and early cuts of episodes. In March, FX ordered a second season of the series. With the end of the first season, Hawley said that the second season would consist of ten episodes, and explained that he was unsure at that time how long he would like the series to run: "I think there were things about the first season that [I felt] would unfold faster than they did, and things that I thought would take longer that I dealt with more quickly. I think by the end of the second year I'll have a better sense of how many more years there are to go".
Singer was removed as an executive producer on the series in January 2018, and his name was removed from the credits of the series' episodes beginning with the second season, due to sexual abuse allegations against him being made. Hawley said that it had been Singer who had asked for his name to be removed, and that Singer had only had limited involvement with the series anyway; he had initially expressed interest in directing the pilot of the series, but had not been directly involved since Hawley took over. That month, Hawley stated that he was planning for a third season of the series, and soon elaborated that the second season would clearly lead in to the third, and that "it's not a show where each year there's a new villain and the end of the table. It's a three or four or five act story where each season is another chapter in that story." In March, he discussed the proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney, saying that he was unsure how it would affect the series and that he had not discussed the issue with either studio, but that he believed "as long as the show is making noise and is watched by people, I won't be worried that they're going to cancel Legion because it doesn't fit in with their larger brand."
In June 2018, the series was renewed for a third season. In February 2019, it was announced that the third season would premiere in June 2019, and will serve as the final season of the series. Hawley had stated his plan had always been for three seasons.
On May 2, 2019, it was announced that the final season will premiere on June 24, 2019.
Kinberg teased in November 2015 that the series would tell "X-Men stories in a slightly different way and even with a slightly different tone" from the films, noting the differences in tone between the "operatic" X-Men films and the "irreverent and hysterical" Deadpool, and feeling that Legion gives "us an opportunity to go even further ... 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." Loeb noted that "the core" of all X-Men comic books has always been that "the X-Men were different ... We live in a world right now where diversity and uniqueness and whether or not we fit in is something that's on our minds twenty-four hours a day. The X-Men have never been more relevant than they are right now." Hawley added, "The great thing about exploring this character is before he has an opinion about anyone else, he has to figure out his own shit. That's what we all have to do. This journey isn't necessarily racing toward a battle with an entity, so much as embracing the battle within."
In May 2016, Hawley described his take on the series as being inspired by the works of David Lynch, and said that "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 ... 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." Elaborating on structuring the series to reflect Haller's point of view, Hawley said, "I love the idea that even when you're in it on the journey, there is this Alice in Wonderland quality to it, of a story within a story." Discussing the increasing popularity of unreliable narrators in television, Hawley said that he wanted to avoid making the audience think that the series is a puzzle that needs to be solved by solving the mysteries for them upfront--"We're going to take a character out of confusion into clarity and an audience out of mystery into clarity." Hawley deliberately chose not to directly adapt any storylines from the comics, feeling that "you're bound to offend somebody, no matter what you do" in that situation. Instead, he wanted to take the character of Legion and basic set-up around him, and "play" with that, which he described in relation to Fargo--"my job was not to remake the movie, to sort of retell a story that had already been told, but to try to tell a different story with the same effect, the same impact."
Concerning the mental illness aspects of the character, Hawley said, "It's a tragic condition that people have, and so I don't want to use it for entertainment purposes ... if we can ground that [aspect] for the audience, then the idea that he's fallen in love and that he's not ill, there's a hope to that that the audience is gonna grab onto." In January 2017, Hawley explained that he was willing to use different tropes from the superhero genre in the series, such as superhero costumes with capes, if necessary, but did want to avoid "sending a message that all conflict can only be resolved through battle. There is a sense in a lot of these stories that everything always builds to a big fight ... I wanted to find a story that was just as exciting and interesting but doesn't send the message that in the end that 'might makes right'." At the end of the first season, Hawley said, "I like this idea of having to face our demons", with the first season seeing Haller go through an internal struggle with the malevolent Shadow King occupying his mind, and then the second season seeing that character possess someone else "making it an exterior agent. And there's going to be something very complicated about going to war with himself. It's been with him since he was a baby, it's like a phantom limb now, it's part of him." Hawley said he preferred this idea of a villain "worthy of creating a whole story around", rather than a villain-of-the year. He was unsure at the time how long that storyline would continue throughout the show, but said "it's a fascinating setup to follow."
In January 2016, Rachel Keller was cast as the female lead of the series, after her breakout role in Fargo. In early February, Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, and Jean Smart were cast as Haller, his friend Lenny Busker, and therapist Melanie Bird, respectively. Keller's role was revealed to be Syd Barrett. Later that month, Jeremie Harris was cast in the regular role of Ptonomy Wallace, and Amber Midthunder was cast as the savant Kerry Loudermilk. In March, Katie Aselton was cast as Haller's older sister Amy. With the full series order in May 2016, Bill Irwin was added to the cast, in the role of Cary Loudermilk.
Stevens, Keller, Plaza, Irwin, Harris, Midthunder, and Smart returned for the second season, with Aselton making a guest appearance in the season before Amy's body is transformed into a new one for Busker. They are joined by Navid Negahban, cast as the true form of the Shadow King, a character that appeared in several different forms throughout the first season.Jemaine Clement and Hamish Linklater also star in the second season, after having guest roles during the first season as Oliver Bird, the husband of Melanie, and the "Interrogator" Clark Debussy, respectively.
Season 3 added relative newcomer Lauren Tsai as Switch, "a young mutant whose secret ability serves as the key to executing David Haller's plan". She is loosely based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. In February, it was announced that the characters Gabrielle Haller and Professor X will appear played by Stephanie Corneliussen and Harry Lloyd, respectively.
Though he put little thought into the aesthetics of the series when writing the pilot, as a director Hawley wanted the series to be highly stylized, describing his vision for it as "a 1964 Terence Stamp movie". It was not feasible to literally translate Bill Sienkiewicz's iconic artwork of the character to the screen, and Hawley wanted the series to have "its own visual aesthetic to it, and part of that is being a story kind of out of time and out of place". He stated that "the design of a show has to have its own internal logic", and compared this sensibility to the series Hannibal, which he said was "a great example of something that had this almost fetishistic beauty to everything that you saw, whether it was food or violence." Hawley elaborated that the design choice of 60s British films came about because "this whole show is not the world, it's David's experience of the world. He's piecing his world together from nostalgia and memory and the world becomes that."
Filming for the pilot took place in Vancouver, with Hawley directing and Dana Gonzales serving as cinematographer. With the series order, the rest of the first season were set to also film in Vancouver, with Craig Wrobleski also working as a cinematographer. Both Ganzales and Wrobleski previously worked with Hawley on Fargo. The pilot featured a large amount of in-camera effects, which Hawley admitted would be a challenge for the series' directors to maintain, given he had 21 days to film the pilot, but the subsequent episodes were only scheduled 8 days of filming each. Some of these shoots ultimately had to be extended to 10 or 11 days filming to meet Hawley's vision. For the second season, the series relocated its production to California to take advantage of tax incentives provided by the California Film Commission under its "Program 2.0" initiative.
Jeff Russo was revealed to be composing the series' score in October 2016. Hawley stated that when first meeting with Russo about the series, he told the latter that he wanted the series to sound like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, explaining "that album more than anything is really the soundscape of mental illness to some degree". Russo felt that "the important part is allowing the humanity of these characters to really shine through", and in addition to an orchestra he used "a bunch of old synthesizers" and "a lot of interesting sound design" to represent the "otherworldly" elements of the series. With the series' premiere, Russo reiterated that the "through-line" of the series is the relationship between Haller and Barrett, and said that a love story "lends itself to musical moments. It allows it to underscore the character." After his early meetings with Hawley, Russo developed some initial ideas for the score, and created three different themes to represent Haller. He adapted these ideas to fit the episodes once they had been edited. A soundtrack album for the first season was released digitally on February 24, 2017, on Amazon.com.
Landgraf stated, in January 2016, that the series would be set in a universe parallel to the X-Men films where "the US government is in the early days of being aware that something called mutants exist but the public is not". He felt it was unlikely that characters would cross over between the show and films, but noted that this could change between then and the premiere of the series. That July, an article on Marvel.com referred to Legion as one of several characters joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), suggesting that Legion would be set in that shared universe like Marvel Television's other series. The next month, Singer said that Legion had actually been designed to fit into the X-Men universe, but also to stand alone, so "you wouldn't have to label" the relationship between the series and the films. He teased plans to have the series "relate to future X-Men movies".
At New York Comic-Con 2016, Donner said that the series is "far from the X-Men movies, but still lives in that universe. The only way for X-Men to keep moving forward is to be original and to surprise. And this is a surprise. It is very, very different." Hawley explained that because the series is depicting the title character's "subjective reality", it would not have to address any connections to the films straight away, noting that Fargo, which is connected to the 1996 film of the same name, at first "had to stand on its own feet" before exploring those connections more; "We have to earn the right to be part of this universe. My hope is we create something so strong that the people in the movie studio call and say they would be foolish enough not to connect these things." He did state that "you can't tell this story without" acknowledging that Legion is the son of Charles Xavier, who appears in the films. In regards to the MCU, Loeb stated that his involvement in the series was a sign that "bridges are being made" between Marvel and Fox, "but I don't want to make any promises ... Marvel heroes at their core are people who are damaged and are trying to figure out who they are in life. It doesn't matter whether or not they're X-Men, Tony Stark, Matt Murdock or Peter Parker ... If you start at a place as strong as David's character is and you have a storyteller like Noah, then it's Marvel. In that way, it is all connected."
Loeb and Donner stated in January 2017 that there were no plans to have Legion be the first in a series of connected shows on FX, like Marvel Television's group of interconnected Defenders series on Netflix, and that Legion and the X-Men series being developed for Fox are "not going to get in each other's way." Donner stated that the series was just a chance to bring an X-Men character to the screen who was not going to be used by the films. The producers hoped that audiences would watch the show because of its character-focus and the talents of Hawley and the cast, rather than to "see a Marvel franchise show." Donner also noted that having Hawley focus on Haller's perspective of reality rather than connections to the X-Men films allowed the series to avoid the convoluted continuity of the films, "because we play with so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that" throughout the films. Therefore, "the cinematic universe will not worry about Legion. They will not worry about these TV worlds at all. They will just continue in the way that they have been continuing." For the onscreen confirmation that Xavier is Haller's father in "Chapter 7", with Xavier's signature wheelchair shown in a brief flashback, the series' production was able to choose from any of the variant wheelchairs used throughout the film series. They settled on the version from X-Men: Apocalypse, with the prop used in that film being brought out of storage for the show.
Legion airs on FX in the United States, and on Fox channels in over 125 other countries, releasing using a "day-and-date" delivery system so that viewers around the world get the series on the same day as the U.S.; Fox Networks Group's sales division handle distribution of the series to third parties.
|Season||Nielsen ratings||Critical response|
|Premiere total viewers
|Finale total viewers
|Season average total viewers
|1||1.622||0.812||0.95||90% (89 reviews)||82 (40 reviews)|
|2||0.669||0.315||0.43||90% (36 reviews)||85 (10 reviews)|
Writing for Screen Rant, J.M. Brandt noted that FX extensively advertised the series, but was debuting the 90 minute (with commercials) premiere at 10:00pm on a Wednesday night, later than other genre "monster hits" like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Brandt felt that the series' success would heavily depend on DVR viewing "to bolster what might be a likely smallish live audience". Following the series premiere, Legions debut ratings were described as "OK, not great", in line with other cable series debuts, but lower than other high-profile FX debuts such as American Crime Story and Hawley's own Fargo.
The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 90% approval rating for the first season, with an average rating of 8.48/10 based on 89 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bold, intelligent, and visually arresting, Legion is a masterfully surreal and brilliantly daring departure from traditional superhero conceits."Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 82 out of 100 based on 40 reviews for the season, indicating what the website considers to be "universal acclaim".
A 92% approval rating for the second season was reported by Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.72/10 based on 36 reviews, and a critical consensus reading, "Legion returns with a smart, strange second season that settles into a straighter narrative without sacrificing its unique sensibilities." Metacritic assigned a score of 85 out of 100 based on 10 reviews for the season, indicating "universal acclaim".
Discussing the series' exploration of mental illness, Charles Pulliam-Moore of io9 stated that schizophrenia is widely featured in popular culture and is generally misrepresented, and noted that giving Haller schizophrenia was a change from the comics where the character had dissociative identity disorder. He felt that the series takes advantage of this change both to show "mind-bending, trippy moments meant to convey to viewers how fractured and disorienting David's perceptions of reality can be" and by having characters like Melanie Bird insist that Haller can improve with treatment and counselling. Pulliam-Moore explained that other telepaths with mental illnesses in the X-Men franchise--Jason Stryker in X2, Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand, and Charles Xavier in Logan--were all treated with drugs, and praised the alternative therapy explored in the series, as well as the fact that the removal of the Shadow King from Haller's mind was not an excuse to ignore the mental illness issues moving forward. He concluded, "It's that idea--that healing is an ongoing, complex, and dynamic process--that made Legions first season so strong", and hoped that it would be continued in the second season of the series.
|2017||TVLine's Performer of the Week||Performance in "Chapter 6"||Aubrey Plaza||Won|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Sound Editing (TV Spot/Trailer/Teaser for a series)||Legion||Won|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series||Legion||Nominated|||
|Gold Derby TV Awards||Drama Supporting Actress||Aubrey Plaza||Nominated|||
|Drama Guest Actor||Jemaine Clement||Nominated|
|Camerimage International Film Festival||First Look - TV Pilots Competition||Dana Gonzales for "Chapter 1"||Nominated|||
|IGN's Best of 2017 Awards||TV Series of the Year||Legion||Nominated|||
|Best New Series||Legion||People's Choice|||
|Best Action Series||Legion||(tied)|||
|Best Dramatic TV Performance||Dan Stevens||Nominated|||
|2018||TVLine's Performer of the Week||Performance in "Chapter 19"||Dan Stevens||Won|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series - Genre||Legion||Nominated|||
|ASC Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series for Commercial Television||Dana Gonzales for "Chapter 1"||Nominated|||
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||John Ross, Eddie Bonin, Sebastian Bergeron, Lionel Lim, Paul Benjamin for "Chapter 1"||Nominated|||
|Empire Awards||Best TV Actor||Dan Stevens||Nominated|||
|GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBTQ character)||"Chapter 8"||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Villain||Aubrey Plaza||Nominated|||