Marvel Entertainment, the film and TV production company for Marvel Comics, has been a tad late in bringing its characters like Legion and others into the cable and satellite TV sphere. Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around for sometime, and the Netflix universe is poppin’, but DC Comics has this market nearly cornered with their expansive comic book universe on the CW Network. So far, neither has really seemed to take chances or risks yet, with the exception of Marvel on Netflix. Enter Marvel’s newest comic book adaptation…Legion.
Legion, as a comic book character is unique, but in a lot of ways not the most unique subject matter in TV land writ large. However, Marvel Entertainment and FX have shown that they intend on his show being a massive deviation from what the world is used to getting from comic book adaptations. Despite his X-Men origins, he is detached from them and so far, the entire Marvel Universe (…And without too much of spoiler, from the rest of the world.)
Legion opens its uniquely long (A fast, yet slowly paced, one-hour and thirty minutes) premiere episode with a quick life flashing before the viewers eyes of a normal kid that one day took the wrong path, came back from this deviation, but only to find himself locked up for spoiler based reasons. The viewer is taken through a trippy, visually stunning trip in and out of the mind of X-Men outsider David Haller, or also known by his mutant alter ego “Legion.” The direction is all of the most creative, colorful, and visual auteur directors of cinema all colliding in a blender of insanity that keeps you guessing to the last minute, if any of it is even within a few inches of the edge of reality.
The new Marvel/FX venture has had criticism lobbied against it, but just like this review, it is a little early to cast the entire show asunder or absolutely praise it. Praise and condemnation alike come with varying vantage points, views, and potential preconceived notions. This writer, for one, felt the one-hour and thirty minutes of run time took us on an emotional, artsy, in-depth look inside a troubled mind and how he views the world around him.
We feel for the protagonist because we literally follow him, take the steps with him at one point, and visually feel the disorientation and fear of his Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called Multiple Personality Disorder. With its use of the typical X-Men techniques of utilizing mutant hatred and discrimination metaphors to discuss serious real world topics. If Legion follows the typical X-Men tropes thus far, they can continue to use it to deal with the stigma that still exists, in a lesser fashion than before, for those with mental disorders.
“All I’m saying is that thing they tell us is crazy, how I don’t want to be handled, or you see stuff and hear, whatever, voices.
That’s what makes you you.”
The difficulty of bringing such a character to any type of adaptation, not to mention a mostly unknown and unheard of character, is likely difficult enough on its own. Legion is said to have both Autism and D.I.D., but for unspecified reasons, they chose to focus solely on his most commonly attributed mental disorder. This likely allowed them to tailor the visuals that the viewer sees directly to his synapses, so that they can carry on the Marvel character’s creepy, disorienting, confusing, and fear-filled ride that is his life.
Legion has merely completed its test run, and has a whole season to continue to be this unique, in depth character study of a comic book adaptation, or simply fizzle out into the newest X-Men character of the moment. Only time will tell, but this Marvel show is off to a great, engaging start. Ignore the noise, and to some extent, the praise as well. Check it out for yourself.
[Images Via Marvel Enterntainment/FX]