Created by Noah Hawley, the Marvel Comic-based series is the first show to be connected to the X-Men film universe. Legion which is available on video-streaming service FOX+ incorporates themes from science fiction and psychological thrillers and horror, making it decidedly distinct from the most of the usual superhero media fare.
The show focuses on the titular mutant Legion or David Haller (played by Dan Stevens), the son of Charles Xavier who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He serves as the show’s unreliable narrator and because viewers often see reality through him, it can become a little twisted and distorted. He has powerful telepathic abilities, which, in the show, are tied in with his mental condition.
The show also stars other mutants — including David’s girlfriend, Sydney Barrett (played by Rachel Keller), Lenor Busker (Aubrey Plaza), and Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin).
Legion has been received positively by critics and garnered high approval ratings for its first season. Because of its unique, courageous and intelligent approach, it’s been considered a refreshing departure from the saturated superhero space. It’s worth noting that the show has chosen to deviate from its comic book counterpart — or lack thereof. Beside from some major characters, majority of the show has been conceptualized for the series itself.
As Legion approaches the highly anticipated finale of its second season, we take a look at where it the comic book origins of some of the show’s main characters and the things that are different.
1. Legion AKA David Haller
In the comics, David Haller has a form of Dissociative Identity Disorder as opposed to Schizophrenia, which he is portrayed as having on the show. The disorder lets each of his alternate personas control one of his several powers.
In the comics, David is half American and half Israeli. He is the son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller, although Xavier did not initially know he had a son as Haller kept her pregnancy a secret. In his youth, Haller was the only survivor of a terrorist attack and the trauma of which caused his mutant powers to manifest. This first surge of his powers caused him to absorb the mind of the terrorist leader into his own. This mind, together with dozens of others, inhabits David’s body, some of them trying to take more control than the others.
2. Shadow King AKA Amahl Farouk
Still portrayed as the main villain in the TV series, Shadow King is also the primary antagonist in the comic books. Originally, Farouk is introduced as a human from Egypt with powerful telepathic capabilities. The Shadow King, who was then identified as an ancient evil being that is the manifestation of the dark side of human consciousness had inhabited Farouk when Farouk was older. Although Shadow King’s actual origins have always been left unclear, it was indicated that the he has transferred from host to host since the dawning of humanity.
On the show, the Shadow King has taken several forms including a mental apparition (Quinton Boisclair), Lenore Busker (Aubrey Plaza), and his true form of Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban).
3. Professor X
Although he hasn’t actually made an appearance in Legion, Professor X has been alluded to and hinted at in several scenes in the show, which has been hyping up fans everywhere to anticipate his appearance. Because it’s tied in with the X-Men film series, speculation as to who might play the famed leader of the X-Men has been buzzing everywhere.
In the comics, Professor X appeared in the very first X-Men comic as the leader and founder of the group — a fact that has never been deviated from in all renditions of the franchise. Creator Stan Lee has said that inspiration for the creation of Professor X included actor Yul Brynner for appearance, and Martin Luther King Jr. for his character.
Xavier has always been a proponent for mutant rights and peace between humans and mutants. However, it’s been shown in the comics that Xavier has been suppressing a dark side of his personality — having been involved in more violent things that the on-screen Xavier has not been inclined to do.
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