Legion: First Impressions

February 9, 2017

 

Legion is the first show from the Marvel Cinema... Uh, I mean Fox's X-Men Universe of movies. This show is lightyears ahead of anything Marvel or DC are putting onto TV. I mean, I like Flash. But this is... special.

 

SPOILER FREE REVIEW: Legion is a mutant, of course, coming to terms with just what being a mutant means or is. The comic book character is, by design, a bit trippy and sort of strange. This TV show brings that idea - a mentally ill, yet power, mutant - into a reality not unlike our own.

 

Most of the tropes you expect are here. There's a love interest. There's a shadowy possibly governmental organization. This is, afterall, the X-Men. What makes this show special, at least so far, is the ability to do something we haven't seen on television. I am exciting for the direction it goes.

 

British guy Dan Stevens plays American (?) mutant Legion, aka David Haller. Rachel Keller plays Syd Barrett, the love interest and mystery girl trope that is named after Pink Floyd's mentally ill former member. Aubrey Plaza - she seems to show up everywhere - plays the awkward friend character. So far, it seems pretty by the numbers but...

 

 

Legion owes more to Pink Floyd's The Wall, David Lynch, and A Clockwork Orange than it does boring paint-by-number television. This is the medium of comic books. Visually inventive, experimental, fun, terrifying, and satirical. This show doesn't follow the comic books exactly, but brings the intriging visuals and inventive storytelling of the comic book medium onto the small screen for the first time. This is the very best of comic book art - the story, the characters, the ideas - twisted around some fascinating plot points and simmered in a batch of mental health questions.

 

Oh, and as someone who has spent time in the mental health world, this is a decent portrait of that at work. However, the kicker here seems to be that the story is told from the point of view of Legion and, as such, becomes the story of an unreliable narrator. It is here that all of the strageness and newness combine into something that is effectively alienly while being so familiar... The music is mostly 60's, the colors are often 80's, and the directing is sometimes 70's. 

 

But, best of all, it works. I can't praise Legion enough and I cannot wait to see where it goes. If we cannot have a comic book show that takes the campy and costumes seriously, then I am glad we can have a comic book show that takes the artistic languae of comic books seriously. 

 

Watch it or skip it? WATCH IT! 

 

 

 

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