Sometimes it seems as though Fox can't make up their minds. Back in August 2016, we were told that the Legion TV series - potentially the most exciting and creative comic-book-series to date - would be part of the same universe as the X-Men movies. Now, in an interview with CBR, executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner has revealed that's not the case after all!
What's Going On?
Speaking at the Edinburgh film festival, Bryan Singer described Legion like this:
"[Legion is designed to be] part of the X-Men universe, but when you watched it, you wouldn't have to label it — it could exist completely on its own."
The implications were clear; that Legion would coexist with the #XMen movies, but wouldn't directly link to them. It would be comparable to Marvel's Netflix shows, which to date have only had the briefest nods to the overarching story of the MCU. Meanwhile, there were even tantalizing rumors that the show would include a cameo from none other than Patrick Stewart, further cementing the series in the mainstream X-Men timeline.
Recently, we've started to receive a lot more information about Fox's other X-Men spinoff too. Fox's chairman confirmed that Matt Nix's as-yet-untitled X-Men show would actually take place in the same universe as the movies, and would present a paranoid world terrified of the 'mutant menace'. Nix's direction gives us a glimpse into events that will shape the dystopian near-future timeline of #Logan, and has been integrated into the overall arc.
But as this series has been absorbed into the main canon, the opposite seems to have happened with Legion. Donner explained that Legion is officially set in "our own universe".
Why Isn't 'Legion' Part Of The X-Men Universe?
“Matt [Nix]’s is much more a part of just the world in terms of there are mutants, mutants are hated and there are Sentinels — though very different from what we’ve seen before. You feel like you’re here in the ‘X-Men’ world. With ‘Legion,’ we’re our own universe. It gives Noah [Hawley] the freedom to do what he wants to do. Because we play with so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that, we felt like, OK, we’re going to throw it out there and hope the fans accept it.”
It's clear that, as Fox compared Nix's take with Legion, they realized that these two shows presented very different worlds. Given Legion is a lot closer to airing, they had a choice; either rewrite and reshoot a lot of the series to make it align with Nix's vision, insist on Nix rewriting to align with Legion, or accept that the two shows can't coexist. Fox chose the latter, viewing Nix's world as more a part of your typical X-Men universe. The fact that Legion was designed so it could stand on its own two feet, essentially meant that it would have to do so.
A Long-Term Strategy
It's worth noting, though, that this change comes at a particularly important time for Fox. Energized by the unexpected success of Deadpool, there are signs that Fox is starting to develop a far more long-term vision for the X-Men franchise than we've ever seen before. In November 2016, Fox booked in dates for two more Marvel movies:
It's recently been confirmed that the inevitable Deadpool 2 is the launch-pad for X-Force, while New Mutants is taking shape to be a Young Adult supernatural thriller - and may well be the first of a trilogy. Rumors abound concerning the next tentpole X-Men movie, which is likely to be based on the famous "Dark Phoenix Saga" and may well be entitled X-Men: Supernova. If that's the case, just the title hints at a far more sci-fi-oriented X-Men movie than we've seen to date.
It's clear that Nix's premise fits more naturally into the developing timeline than Legion, so Fox has chosen to confirm that as part of their continuity. Meanwhile, the fact that Fox has already played fast and loose with the reboot card has clearly given them an 'out'; Legion is simply set on another world in Fox's X-Men 'multiverse'.
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On the one hand, I freely admit to being frustrated at this news; it seems as though Fox simply can't make up their minds! On the other hand, though, it's clear that the studio is finally beginning to develop a longer-term vision for the X-Men franchise. That's the reason the story has changed; because their vision is clearer, and Legion no longer fits quite so well. Whether the series is part of the official X-Men universe or not, it still promises to be a tremendous show!