Gritty and realistic, Legion shows the dark side of super powers. But does the new series live up to the hype?
Marvel’s new television show is a far cry from its Netflix counterparts. Legion, which is connected to the X-Men comics, takes a mind-bending and darkly humorous approach to the superhero TV genre, which is not surprising considering the showrunner, Noah Hawley, is best known for his work on the TVshow Fargo.
Taking place in the 1960s, the show follows David Haller, played by Dan Stevens, a patient at a psychiatric hospital who is diagnosed with schizophrenia after he claims to hear voices and be able to control objects with his mind. At the hospital, we are introduced to the incredibly funny and show-stealing Lenny, played by Aubrey Plaza, and the beautiful, closed off Sydney “Syd” Barrett, played by Rachel Keller, who Haller falls in love with at first sight. It’s Syd that makes him start to realise that his symptoms might not be just a mental illness, that instead he might have powers.
The show suddenly shifts from the hospital to Haller being questioned by government agents on the whereabouts of Syd. It is then that we are recounted how Haller ended up in the hospital in the first place, and the events that led up to Syd’s disappearance. Full of surreal moments and darkly disturbing scenes, we start to get a glimpse of Haller’s view of the world.
Unlike other superhero movies and TV shows out there, Legion shows how having powers is not always a gift. Instead it can be psychologically damaging and feel more like a curse than anything else. At its heart, Legion tackles the psychological effects powers have on their hosts, and does not shy away from portraying mental illness. What is portrayed is a deeply disturbed man suffering with mental illness due to the nature of his powers. This aspect of the show sets up Haller to be an unreliable narrator whose memories and perceptions of events are skewed by hallucinations and a weak grasp on reality.
For viewers who are not aware of the comic book background of Legion, the show can seem quite confusing at first. In general the quick cuts and strange camera angles can be disorienting for any viewer. That being said, more information is bound to be revealed in following episodes, and while the first episode will likely leave you unsettled, its action packed ending will only make you want to find out what happens next.
This show promises to be a surreal and action-packed adventure that is bound to be incredibly entertaining.