Earlier this week it was announced that Fox has partnered up with Marvel Television for two X-Men-themed TV series in Legion and Hellfire, and now producer Noah Hawley (Fargo) has been speaking to TV Insider about the former, revealing how the deal came about, and what appeals to him about the project.
“It’s been in the works for a long time,” states Hawley. “Some of that was Marvel dealmaking process. Fox has rights to make movies and sort of tacitly the rights to do TV, but they’ve never done it before so they had to work out all the details. The reality is it was literally between Season 1 and Season 2 of Fargo that we came up with it. It’s been this whole time of trying to work all of that other stuff out. It came out of FX and [Fox Networks Group chairman/CEO] Peter Rice, who had greenlit the first X-Men movie [when he was a film executive at 20th Century Fox] with [producers] Lauren Shuler Donner and Bryan Singer. I think Lauren and Bryan had talked to Peter about seeing if potentially there would be interest in a TV expansion of this X-Men brand. Peter was very excited about it and looped in Gina Balian [who heads up limited series development] at FX. She’s the one who brought it to me as a potential idea, and asked if there anything in this universe you’d be interested in.”
Asked what appealed about the character of Legion, Hawley responded that: ” I basically came up with a TV show that I wanted to tell and then found the right character for it. It was more about trying to find my way to what the show was. In some ways reverse engineering it. We found the perfect character. But it has to be a great show, it can’t just be a great genre show. What I really like about [Legion] is, here’s a character who is schizophrenic on some level, a character struggling with mental illness. Is he crazy or does he have these powers? The answer is, kind of both. I’m a big believer that the structure of a story should reflect the content of the story. And so I liked the idea that if you have a character that doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not real, that is also the audience’s journey.”
As for how the series will fit into the wider X-Men universe, Hawley stated that: “It’s conceived more as a standalone. I don’t want to say too much more about it on that level, but certainly it’s not constructed as a back-door anything. It’s more just that there’s a story that I want to explore that has to fit into that larger universe, which is exciting… I do think that the show needs to stand on its own two feet. The people who care that it’s an X-Men title are going to know it’s an X-Men title. You’re looking for the largest possible and most diverse audience, so that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is the show itself.”