ByTom Bacon, writer at Creators.co
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

2017 will be the Year of the Superhero, but one of the most promising comic book-inspired shows doesn't even star a hero. Marvel and Fox are working together on Legion, an offbeat series starring a powerful mutant who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder.

His adventures will look at the world through the eyes of Dan Stevens's David Haller, and as a result we've been promised a series that explores the very boundaries of reality.

Today, Fox confirmed Legion's release date, which will be February 8th, 2017. The show's been assigned to the 10pm timeslot, meaning it won't be competing with any other superhero TV show. As fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have seen, assigning a superhero show to that timeslot also gives the creative team room to breathe, allowing the series to be darker and a lot more disturbing.

In addition to finally getting a release date, Fox also given us a new trailer - and it's an epic one!

Take a Look!

One word of caution: showrunner Noah Hawley has warned us that Legion is from David Haller's perspective, meaning that we - like David himself - have no way of knowing what's real and what's not. Still, with that caveat in place - what does this fantastic new trailer tease?

Here Come The Villains!

Here come the Divisions! Image: FX
Here come the Divisions! Image: FX

It seems in the world of Legion, the Government has been carefully monitoring mutants. They're running a series of secretive black ops teams, known as the Divisions, who are tasked with identifying mutants and then controlling them -- or killing them. For all of his life, David Haller has been told that he's sick. However, this trailer suggests that "sickness" is just his mutant abilities.

Here's the catch: people with Dissociative Identity Disorder typically demonstrate what's called Interpersonal Paranoia. They become paranoid that people around them are watching them, following them, and are out to get them. Combine this with a mutant who can manipulate reality and the audience is immediately left with the question of whether or not the Divisions are real at all. Are they just a figment of David Haller's troubled mind?

If we assume that the Divisions are indeed real, then the fact that Legion is set in an X-Men timeline (and possibly features an appearance from Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier) is fascinating. Details about the series aren't pointing in the direction of this show being set in a pre-Days of Future Past timeline. Instead, it appears that the timeline we experienced in X-Men: Apocalypse is leading to a situation where mutants are carefully policed.

Of course, further down the road of that timeline we have Logan, where the mutant race has gone all but extinct.

The future is looking very, very dark for the X-Men!

Exploring David's Past

What happened in the past? Image: FX
What happened in the past? Image: FX

Although the comics have never really delved into the issue, the reality is that Dissociative Identity Disorder is typically a result of childhood trauma - usually some sort of abuse. To quote David Kronemyer:

"The victim creates an alternative personality and assigns the traumatic event (or series of traumatic incidents) to it, rather than to his or her “core personality” or “self.” In that way, the trauma becomes contained by or encapsulated in the alternative personality. Conversely, it becomes depersonalized or derealized vis-à-vis the victim’s core personality, enabling him or her to cope with greater facility in daily life."

How this leads to multiple alternative personalities is relatively unknown at this time. Do you need multiple traumas? Why isn't the existing alternative personality enough to handle the second trauma?

We don't know what angle Legion will take on this, but the trailer suggests we're going to see flashbacks into David Haller's childhood. The glimpse we've already gotten is very dark, hinting at serious childhood trauma, and in one scene David is even reliving this past.

You have to bear in mind, though, that David is a mutant. What if that wasn't a flashback? What if, as part of the plot of Legion, David is able to project his mind back into his childhood body and experience the abuse? By accepting the events as part of him, he would also be effectively preventing the alternative personalities from ever developing. It may even be a somewhat bizarre road to recovery from Dissociative Identity Disorder.

What's Going On With That Amygdala?

An amusing scene that may actually be really important. Image: FX
An amusing scene that may actually be really important. Image: FX

What? You thought the comment about the amygdala was just a funny one-liner in the new trailer? The amygdala is the part of the brain that deals with emotions and significantly people with Dissociative Identity Disorder have been found to have smaller amygdalas. Assuming that this scene is actually real, it's a hint that David is not demonstrating the physical changes linked with Dissociative Identity Disorder. In other words, the end of the trailer brings everything full-circle, linking in to the opening dialogue:

See also:

Until now, most of the Legion trailers have been whimsical and psychedelic. (Check out an earlier one in the video below.)

However, this is the first one to truly offer insight into some of the potential plots. Of course, the beauty of Legion is that we simply don't know if we can trust the reality the trailer hints at. That, I think, is at least half the point of Legion; to encourage us to question the nature of reality; to take us on a wild journey where we can't even begin to tell what's real and what's not; to dive into a world where the most powerful man on the planet may well be an inmate at a lunatic asylum.

Legion will premiere February 8th 2017 at 10pm on FX.

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