“We live in very tumultuous times, things are polarizing and there is a lot of intolerance,” said Noah Hawley today at the Legion panel at New York Comic-Con. “This isn’t about battling the enemy but dealing with the enemy within,” he added of the tormented Dan Stevens-played character of David Haller AKA Legion. “It will make you laugh and make you cry,” said Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb of Legion, in praising the efforts of Hawley and cast and crew of the show.
In a panel that included a screening of the first half of the Legion pilot, Hawley also revealed on Sunday via Twitter from the stage that Jemaine Clement will be joining the first season of the show. While no details were given about the role the Flight of the Conchords co-star will play, I’ve learned it is a multi-episode arc for the actor. No premiere date was announced today but Legion is set to debut in 2017 on FX.
— Noah Hawley (@noahhawley) October 9, 2016
Besides the Fargo EP and Loeb, Sunday’s much anticipated panel at a near full Hammerstein Ballroom included fellow EP Lauren Shuler Donner and Downton Abbey alum Stevens. Also onstage were cast members Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Katie Aselton, Jeremie Harris, Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder.
Based on a multi-powered and multi-personality character from The X-Men comics, which Hawley today called “his book growing up,” Steven’s David Haller/Legion has been diagnosed as schizophrenic for the voices and more he hears and sees. Set in an alternative universe from the Marvel franchise, Steven’s character has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years but an encounter with a new fellow patient reveals the diagnosis might have been a bit limited, to put it gently.
“I wanted it to feel like a 1964 Terrence Stamp movie,” Hawley said of the look and feel of the show on the panel.
To that point, before Hawley and the rest of the Legion gang came on stage, the crowd was shown the first 25-minutes of the Legion pilot. Highly stylized, the episode started with the Who tune “Happy Jack” playing on the soundtrack as a highly stylized sequence showed the idealized suburban life of mutant David Haller, with scenes of a prom gone wrong, street rioting, early manifestations of his powers and the institutionalization of the character due to a mental health diagnosis.
As seen in the trailer released at San Diego Comic-Con, Stevens was dressed in a retro-style tracksuit while being visited by the Katie Aselton-played Amy, his older sister, hanging out in the main room of the facility with a rough looking junkie Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and the introduction of Syd (Rachel Keller) on to the ward. “Do you want to be my girlfriend,” he asked her at a group session. “OK but don’t touch me,” Syd replies to his surprise. “Why are the hot ones always crazy?” Lenny whispers in David’s ear after he and Syd arrange to have dinner that night. Over that and flashbacks to David’s younger years, the Rolling Stones’ “She’s A Rainbow” perfectly played on the soundtrack – so we know three things for sure abut Legion, it looks great, has top notch pacing and a killer choice of music. “This show should feel like Dark Side of the Moon,” Hawley told the crowd of the classic Pink Floyd album, which he sees as the soundtrack of mental illness. And Yes, Haller’s powers and, in the Marvel tradition, his acceptance of them are full of conflicts.
A subsequent one-on-one therapy scene, parts of which were seen in the SDCC trailer, postulates that everything that happened before was an illusion. We also learned that a lover of Haller’s was killed and the now heavily medicated character tried to hang himself before being institutionalized. In the narrative packed preview, the audience was shown that the facility Haller is being held in is a revamped high school being run by the military and high level government officials. Or, as one of those officials says, Heller “may be the most powerful mutant that we’ve ever encountered,”
At the end of the preview, the crowd in the 34th Street venue went crazy.
New York Comic-Con wraps up today.