Weekend Superhero: February 11, 2017
Marvel has had a fair amount of success with its television series’, primarily on Netflix. While its ABC shows like “Agents of SHIELD” and “Agent Carter” struggle to keep audience interested (which is unfair, since the former is solid week after week, and the latter is plain excellent), Marvel’s Netflix shows are aggressively watchable. The freedom from commercials and lax content restrictions allows the typically light-hearted Marvel to try something new. So I was very intrigued by the concept of “Legion”, a new X-Men spin-off premiering on FX – a station almost complete untethered by restrictions. If you watch an FX show through its streaming app, you get to enjoy it in full F-bomb glory (looking at you, “Taboo”), and I was curious to see what Marvel would do to play along. After watching the pilot, that was the farthest thing from my mind; I just wanted to know what the hell was going on.
“Legion” is a show about David (Dan Stevens), a mental patient with schizophrenic tendencies. David has been troubled his whole life by his mental issues, which seem punctuated by acts of telekinesis. While passing time in the hospital with his sweets-loving friend Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), David meets Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), who can’t stand to be touched by other people. The two strike up an unlikely romance, which culminates in her being taken from the hospital by a shady group.
The bulk of this episode of “Legion” involves some kind of mysterious agent trying to get a read on just how powerful David’s powers are. However, the plot and order events are constantly muddled, since the show goes heavy into replicating the chaos of David’s brain. To replicate David’s fractured mind, there are frequent time jumps, unexplained phenomena, and even some trips into a dreamworld. It’s basically like somebody took Christopher Nolan’s filmography and just tossed it in a blender.
“Legion” is created by Noah Hawley, who runs the excellent FX series “Fargo”, so you would expect a higher level of cohesion to the story. “Fargo” has many dangling threads, but you always have a sense from the beginning that they will all come together. “Legion” takes too long to coalesce, and once it does it runs the high risk of being not interesting enough to make it worth it. I finished the episode hardly intrigued enough to continue the series.
Do I want another generic action-based show? Of course not. But if you think “Daredevil” or “Jessica Jones” are action-based shows, you are wrong. Those are thematic shows with great character work that sometimes feature action. “Legion” wants to be surreal and make you piece together the story on your own, an idea with merit but that requires perfect execution. This episode fell flat, and bored me more often than it made me want to invest energy in it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was very excited by another Marvel show this past week, and it’s one that has not premiered yet. The first really good trailer for “Iron Fist” dropped, and I am way on board. With the exception of “Luke Cage”, I’ve fallen heart and soul into the “Defenders” Netflix universe. Finn Jones will be playing Danny Rand, who was lost for 10 years and believed dead after his parent’s plane crashed. Danny survived, and was trained in martial arts on K’un Lun, a mystical city that breeds a warrior known as the Iron First.
Based on the trailer, it would seem that Danny will be teaming up with Colleen Wing, a martial artist who – in the comics – is part of a crime-fighting duo with Misty Knight (see “Luke Cake”). Together they will most likely be taking on the Steel Serpent, the Iron Fist’s arch-nemesis in the comics. Also returning will be Madame Gao from “Daredevil”, who has a 90% chance of turning out to be Crane Mother.
The action looks fun and the casting seems right, so everything about the trailer got me excited. I can’t wait to see what Marvel does to bring a C-lister like Iron Fist into A-list territory.