Everything You Need to Know About 'Legion,' FX's X-Men Spin-Off

A quick explainer on FX's introduction to the X-Men universe, 'Legion.'

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If you're really about this television life, you already know that FX has been damn near flawless with its original series. The chances they've taken on shows like Atlanta and Better Things have puts it in a different class than regular network TV or even most cable stations. With Legion, which premieres on Feb. 8, the channel makes its first leap into the superhero waters, but instead of hitting you with the typical "knight in shining armor" tropes, we get a mentally unstable lead character with universe-altering powers that he barely understands and has a hard time controlling.

Legion might be an unconventional character, but he's from a family that's near and dear to FX's parent company, Fox, who has released every X-Men-related movie that's hit theaters since 2000's X-Men. Legion comes to us from the pages of Marvel's X-Men, with family ties to one of the king fish in the massive mutant pond, Charles Xavier. He's never been a character on the level of a Wolverine, or even a Deadpool, but he's been instrumental in some of the larger comic book events the X-Men have faced, including 1995's "Age of Apocalypse" alternate timeline. He's one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe, but he also has an identity disorder, so while he has the powers of telekinesis and the ability to absorb the powers of others into himself, that absorption will turn into a totally new identity in his head. If he is able to control his powers, all is well. If not...

For those of you who are amped for a new entry in the superhero television streets, we've got you covered. Here's a look at what makes Legion tick, with hope that you understand why Fox chose to bring this character to light before the many other mutants waiting on deck.

He's the Son of Professor X

Legion and Professor X

While Charles Xavier, a.k.a. the ultra-powerful telekinetic leader of the X-Men Professor X, didn't know, he actually fathered young David Heller during a trip to Israel. In the comics, Professor X was using his mental powers to help Holocaust survivors at a psychiatric facility in Israel ease their pain. He met a woman, Gabrielle Heller, and they had an affair. With Professor X being hands down one of the strongest telepaths in the Marvel Universe, it makes sense that his child inherited some of his telepathic abilities.

He's Mentally Ill

Legion, insane

For most mutants, the emergence of their mutant abilities manifests itself via a traumatic experience, or sometime during puberty. For Young David Heller, his transformation into the mutant known as Legion occurred during a terrorist attack in which he was the only survivor. His telepathic abilities took hold, allowing him to burn out the minds of his attackers save for one, the leader Jemail. The trauma of that experience put him in a catatonic state, but more importantly, was the beginning of David's dissociative identity disorder, which results in each of David's separate personalities gaining control of another part of his mutant abilities.

He's an Omega-Level Mutant


In the world of Marvel's mutants, the most powerful mutants are deemed "Omega-level," which lowkey has these beings walking around like gods on Earth when it comes to their powers (other Omega-level mutants include Phoenix, Iceman, and Psylocke). Legion is, in fact, an Omega-level mutant, with a range of abilities that includes telepathy, telekinesis, and pyrokinesis. But his powers get deeper than that. Legion has the ability to absorb the psyche of a person and, because of his dissociative identity disorder, can turn that psyche into an alternate personality of his. If that psyche happens to be from a person with abilities? That just means Legion has added another set of powers to his arsenal. This can become tricky when Legion isn't in control of his own mind and powers, though.

He's Played on Both Sides of the Law

Legion and the X-Men

Because of his super-charged powers and his unstable mental state, Legion's seen as both a friend and a foe to the X-Men and mutants at large. He's a natural loner and antihero, which can put people off, but if he absorbs the wrong persona or distorts reality, even for an ultimately good cause, his actions can spell trouble for those around him. He's the type of guy who, in an effort to ease the turmoil his father Professor X has gone through, would do things like traveling back in time to take out one of Professor X's biggest threats, Magneto. It's ideally something every "good" mutant would want to do, but not necessarily the "right" thing to do. 

FX's 'Legion' Isn't Part of the X-Men Cinematic Universe

'Legion' scream

If you were hoping that Hugh Jackman's last hurrah would be a cameo in the upcoming FX series, you're playing yourself. While X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner has worked on every X-Men property to hit the silver screen (including Deadpool​) and is on the Legion team, she told IGN that "[w]ith Legion, we're our own universe. It gives Noah [Hawley, Legion creator] 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."

That makes perfect sense; why overconfuse an already-confusing series of films? Hell, even Logan is said to be set in a different universe than previous X-Men films.

Interestingly enough, with all of this information now in your hands, you don't necessarily need it to enjoy the beauty of Legion. It doesn't bash you over the head with mutant conflicts (at least at first), and has its own quirky universe to unfold via its eight-episode debut season. With astonishing performances, and indie-styling, and captivating storylines, Legion will be unlike any superhero series we've been introduced to thus far.

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