Let's Talk About that Impressive 'Legion' Premiere on FX
I feel like Legion may be the perfect show for the particular demographic that frequents this site. It’s in the center of a VENN diagram of everything you people love: It’s a superhero series from creator of the Fargo TV series, Noah Hawley, starring Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Katie Aselton (The League) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) that feels like a cross between Girl, Interrupted and Mr. Robot with a splash of Deadpool’s subversive humor. It also analogizes superhero powers with mental illness and works as a brilliant metaphor for any marginalized community. Noah Hawley has figured out how to use the superhero genre in a way that zombie genre has been used for years: To make a cultural or political statement. It’s also a great character drama; I feel more invested in Syd Barrett and David Haller after one episode of a television show than I do in Spider-Man after six movies.
After the hour-and-a-half pilot, I also have no idea where Legion is headed, and that’s exciting. I don’t know if the mutants David ran away with are good or bad people, or somewhere in between. I don’t know if David’s superpower manifests itself as mental illness, of if David has mutant powers and suffers from mental disease. I don’t know if Syd Barrett is really in love with David, or who or what the Devil with the Yellow Eyes is, if Lenny (Plaza) is really dead and will function as David’s dark passenger, of if she’ll somehow find her way back into the series (I do know, however, that her “death” reveal was killer).
The art direction and cinematography are superb, and those are things I typically don’t even pick up on; Hawley also makes some bold and interesting choices with transitions. The show’s entire aesthetic is unique, borrowing from so many eras that I have no idea when the series is actually set. I also love the cool shots, like this one, where Lenny can be found in the mirror:
For a superhero series, there’s also something uniquely refreshing about the pace: There’s enough time to slow down and explore the characters, but from scene to scene, it remains brisk and lively, peppered with pop-culture allusions and references to the comic series, most of which that I probably won’t catch. Most importantly, it’s a series about characters who happen to have superhero powers instead of characters defined by them.
Plus, there’s dancing.
What did everyone else think?
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