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Tom Bacon

At last week's New York Comic Con, fans got the chance to get a sneak preview of the first 30 minutes of Legion — the revolutionary Marvel / Fox X-Men TV series! Expectations had been raised after a fantastic trailer at San Diego Comic Con earlier in the year — check it out below if you need a refresher:

The good news? Our high expectations look set to have been exceeded! Over the last week, first reactions have been trickling out. Here's what the sites have had to say...

"Visually Thrilling"

A disturbing glimpse into mental illness. Image: FX
A disturbing glimpse into mental illness. Image: FX

Legion has a unique look and feel, one that abandons traditional superhero shows and gives it an identity like no other superhero TV series. Reeling, Polygon comments:

"It almost feels wrong describing what we saw in words."

Every description of the show has that same sense; of the writers desperately struggling to find the words to describe the experience of watching Legion. Showrunner Noah Hawley has attempted to make the show representative of mental illness; you have no way of knowing what's real and what's not as you watch the episode, and everything can be turned on its head with dazzling speed. In order to capture this illusory reality, Hawley has created a surreal experience like nothing else on TV.

Image: FX
Image: FX

Vox comment:

"Each scene is visually thrilling.Some are chilly, evoking the icy, metallic feeling of a clinic. Others play with the composition of the frame, carefully considering the way the characters inhabit (or are absent from) the space around them and the how close they are to one another. Sometimes, the show experiments with David’s point of view; through his eyes, some characters appear hazy or out of focus, occasionally blurring into the sunlight behind them."

Vulture puts it simply: this is unlike any other superhero show. They point out that, while superhero films have a history of bringing in creative directors, often those directors are kept firmly in check by the studio's own plans. In the case of Legion:

"FX and Marvel Television seem to have given Hawley a long leash. You’ll never mistake Legion for, say, Daredevil or The Flash."

No Superhero Story

Image: FX
Image: FX

As any comic book fan knows, superheroes aren't all comics have to offer; in the case of Legion, Noah Hawley has taken a unique X-Men character and used him as the springboard for a show that explores the nature of reality itself. Vulture comment:

"There’s just a man who occasionally finds silverware and furniture gathering around him like a swarm of slow-motion locusts while he crouches under the weight of his aching brain. (Who among us with mental-health issues hasn't felt at times like the laws of physics are collapsing when we spiral out?) In that way, the show's metahuman chaos feels more like magical realism than traditional superheroics."

Legion challenges us to question everything. We're seeing through David Haller's eyes, and we can't possibly know what's real and what's not. That sense of the illusory is described as permeating the entire episode; do other characters even exist at all? We have no way of knowing, and the scenes are styled in such a way to only increase our questions.

This isn't Daredevil or The Flash. There are no superheroes here; no battles for the fate of the planet; no scenery-chomping diatribes. Instead, there's a beautifully atmosphere TV series that seems unlike anything else in its genre. No wonder Entertainment Weekly calls this the Fargo of superhero TV.

See also:

The first comments on Legion should be enough to make any comic book fan sit up and take notice. This sounds to be a series like none other, one that dives deep into the murky waters of mental illness, and leaves us reeling with questions about the very nature of reality. If these first reviews are anything to go by, this could be the most creative comic-book-inspired TV show to date. Little wonder that Deadline report:

I for one can't wait until the madness hits our screens.


Are you excited for Legion?

Poll Image: Marvel Comics. Sources: Polygon, Vox, Vulture, EW, Deadline.