Many were scratching their heads recently when Fox finally announced the first two X-Men spin-off TV shows that were coming out of the gate. Most had expected that the previously-rumored “X-Factor” series would be the film franchise’s inaugural debut on television, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, “Hellfire” was announced for Fox and “Legion” for FX. While the former made sense, given that it is a period piece series dealing with a group already introduced in the films, the latter was an announcement out of left-field.
The involvement of “Fargo” showrunner Noah Hawley batted away most of the skepticism, although confusion still ran high. Of all the characters and storylines to chose from, why did the Fox networks land on Legion and the “X-Men: Legacy” run? The answer is simple: because they wanted Hawley and that’s what Hawley picked. Speaking recently to TV Insider, the man himself actually opened up on the subject…
“I basically came up with a TV show that I wanted to tell and then found the right character for it. It was more about trying to find my way to what the show was. In some ways reverse engineering it. We found the perfect character. What I really like about him is, here’s a character who is schizophrenic on some level, a character struggling with mental illness. Is he crazy or does he have these powers? The answer is, kind of both… I liked the idea that if you have a character that doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not real, that is also the audience’s journey.”
As for crossovers and connections with the films and “Hellfire“…
“It’s conceived more as a standalone. I don’t want to say too much more about it on that level, but certainly it’s not constructed as a back-door anything.” He added that, “We certainly haven’t had any conversations about crossovers [with ‘Hellfire’]. I don’t know anything about it, but I think that one is more linearly taken out of the world of the movies. Ours has its own world to it.”
That makes sense. After all, “Hellfire” is reportedly set in the 1960s (presumably after the events of X-Men: First Class). A direct crossover wouldn’t make much sense. As for the films, next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse is set in the 1980s and it is expected that the next X-Men film will be set shortly after it. With the films rooted in the past, “Legion” may well be the only present day-set on-going X-Men property we have now. The titular character is, at least in the source material, the son of Professor X. That alone necessitates a present-day setting.
The remaining films to come outside of the core X-Men saga are all relatively doing their own thing. Deadpool has its meta satirical angle running, so it’s going to be hard to pinpoint exactly where it falls on a timeline. Gambit could be set during the present, but may well be a period piece as well, if they ever want to have Tatum cross over into the on-going X-Men saga. As for The Wolverine 2, that is not only set in the future, but also Hugh Jackman’s swan song, so there’s little room for crossover appeal.
“Legion” having limited connections and crossover elements with other X-Men properties, outside of small stuff, is likely for the best. It not only allows it to do its own thing within the X-Men Cinematic Universe, but also doesn’t limit its own narrative possibilities, as well as those of the films or other shows. More than anything, however, I’m just happy to hear that Hawley has basically been turned loose on it.