Legion was one of the first big shows of 2017, expanding the X-Men universe in a way that hasn’t been done before. Stylistically one of the better television shows of recent years, how has it matched up to the ever-changing and ever-growing superhero game?
Starring Dan Stevens as David, a troubled young man who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, we follow his journey as he soon learns that the strange things that have been happening throughout his life are not due to his mental condition, but because he is a mutant. Whilst an inpatient at a mental health facility, he has an encounter with Syd, a young woman who hates to be touched. After a horrific event at the facility, David finds himself taken in by a mysterious group of people who question him over strange events and findings, until Syd and others rescue him and take him to a secluded compound with various people with mutant abilities. Here David is helped to forget his diagnosis of mental health issues and trained to use his abilities to save the world.
In order to make Legion stand out – as the misunderstood superhero plotline isn’t exactly an unpredictable one – the creators have gone to town on the stylistic qualities to create a delicious feast for the eyes. If ever David Lynch was to delve into the superhero genre, we imagine it would be similar to Legion, with an added influence of Wes Anderson just to top it all off. Though the clothing and set design hint towards the series being set in the 60s, it’s not clear what time period our story is set in. The soundtrack also uses songs from across various decades, including the likes of Talking Heads, The Who, Jane’s Addiction and Feist.
With a lot of the show revolving around alternate universes, dream sequences and being trapped in another person’s mind, the story can be hard to grasp at times. The first few episodes of the show set the tone for what is to come later by taking a disjointed and confusing approach, forcing the audience to ask questions so as to merge reality, fantasy and the dream world into one. It takes a while for us to really know what world we are currently in, mirroring David’s own perception of the events in the show, and we really get to the good stuff about halfway through the series when the “superhero-ing” actually begins.
Legion is truly a superhero show for an intelligent and mature audience. It requires patience, intellect and an open mind to really take in what the creators are offering. Some may simply dismiss it for its confusing and disjointed nature, but in the saturated world of the superhero genre, Legion makes for something entirely different. It shows critics and audiences that a story about superheroes doesn’t have to be all spandex and cheesy one liners – it can cover adult themes such as mental illness and drugs, and become something truly thought provoking.
The cast is smartly put together too, mostly unknown except for Dan Stevens who has now catapulted into the limelight from his recent appearance in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Others include Aubrey Plaza (probably the best of the entire cast), Jermaine Clement, Rachel Keller, and Jean Smart. We think that with such big budgeted franchises such as X-Men, expanding its world using actors that are less known allows audiences to absorb themselves more, especially with such an involving storyline and structure.
We give Legion a well-deserved 4 stars for shedding a new light on such a popular genre – though it could be considered too clever or ‘art-house’ for its own good, the aesthetics alone make this show a real treat.
Legion is available to buy and stream on Amazon Video.