If there’s one thing superhero fans love, it’s being able to predict how their favorite shows and movies are going to mirror the comic book stories they’re adapting. But Legion, FX and Marvel’s first go at an X-Men television series, is so full of meticulous little details that you’ll have to put in a lot of effort to figure out what’s really at play. Heck, even the show’s star, Dan Stevens, admits he doesn’t know what’s going on half the time.
“I think it’s a real onion of a show in that sense," Stevens recently told Nerdist. “I’ve seen the pilot three times now—I just saw it for the third time this week—and there’s stuff in it I’m still seeing, you know what I mean?”
Stevens plays David Haller (a.k.a. Legion), a young man who thinks he’s a paranoid schizophrenic but is actually a powerful mutant with telekinetic and telepathic abilities beyond his control. As you can imagine, that makes for a pretty intense mind-trip of a series. Not just in the way Stevens performs his role, but in the way the entire show is structured.
“There’s little things in the sound edit that I missed [the first time] or tiny little visual things that serve as clues to where this whole thing is going and what actually might be happening, and which one of these realities is real, and who’s at the helm of David’s psyche at any one time, which is quite an interesting thing to follow,” Stevens said. “I’ve been watching cuts on an iPad and then I saw it on a really good screen with good sound last week and I suddenly went, ‘Oh, wow!’ There’s a third of that scene that I missed because of something whispering in the background.”
Legion isn’t the only project Stevens has coming down the pike, of course; he’s also the Beast to Emma Watson’s Belle in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, although you might not recognize him in the trailer at first under all that makeup and CGI enhancement.
“They both presented their own crazy set of challenges,” Stevens said of the two experiences. “Beast was performed 10 inches off the ground in a muscle suit on stilts. There was singing and dancing and it was an amazing, epic adventure, that one. The Beast was much more physically challenging, [what with] puppeteering that thing and all the rest. I guess [Legion] had some more psychological challenges, but they’re both awesome challenges in their own way. I like a challenge.”
Unlike Legion, Beauty and the Beast is a little bit more straightforward in its adaptation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go in thinking it’s an exact replica of the original film. “It’s also a retelling of a classic fairy tale, which the animated version was as well,” he said. “There’s a few little twists, and it’s definitely a movie that’s game to play a little bit with our expectations of what we think we’re gonna see. And also in making something three-dimensional from two-dimensional, there are a few moments of added depth that add to the story, and there’s a little playfulness here and there. But it’s made with a huge amount of love and respect for the original, and for the fairy tale, and for the Cocteau version. It’s all in there. A lot of the original music is there, and there’s some new songs that Alan Menken wrote and it’s pretty magical. I’m very excited.”
Beauty and the Beast also features a lot of the characters you already know and love from the first movie, which Legion... well, doesn’t. So far, the show exists fairly separately from the rest of the X-Men franchise, so no Wolverine or Storm to speak of (yet, at least). However, there is one established mutant Stevens would love to hang out with: Bishop, who appeared for a hot second in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
“I’ve always found the character of Bishop really funny," Stevens said. "I don’t know why. It just must be the must frustrating and annoying thing in the world to be, like, the only guy who remembers stuff in a civilization." Stevens is referring to the comic arc where Bishop tries to stop David Haller from changing the past and not only fails, but ends up being the only person in the timeline who knows what’s changed. “I’ve always kind of wanted to buy him a beer. I just think he must have a lot to get off his chest.”
Hear that, FX? Might be a good place to start with season two! Although, could we maybe let Omar Sy reprise his role rather than recast it for television? Poor dude only had, like, five minutes of screen time. The least you can do is let Legion buy the man a beer.
Images: FX Networks, Disney
Everything you need to know about Legion