Marvel Television and 20th Century Fox Television’s Legion was a trippy, critically acclaimed hit in its first season earlier this year, and the X-Men-inspired show made its Comic-Con International in San Diego debut late Friday afternoon with a screening and Q&A.
In attendance: show creator and executive producer/writer/director Noah Hawley, executive producer John Cameron, longtime live-action X-Men franchise veteran producer Lauren Shuler Donner, executive producer and head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb, and cast members Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris and Amber Midthunder.
The panel began with the seven-minute “Boléro” sequence from the penultimate episode, which first aired in March. Along with that came the news that season 2 will be 10 episodes (up from 8 in its first season), and start early next year.
“It’s a joy to watch,” Stevens said of the show. “Seeing all the weird things we did put together is mind-blowing.”
“I was always looking for ways to create something that just felt bigger and more emotionally relevant,” Hawley said of his inspiration for the “Boléro” sequence. “The moment you put the silent movie cards on it, it becomes bigger, because silent movies had that sense of scale to them.”
Panel moderator Eric Goldman from IGN pointed out that this was Jeph Loeb’s first time working with mutant characters on television. “It’s funny how old lawsuits come together,” Loeb said.
Loeb complimented FX executives who “fought through incredible duct tape version of red tape” to make the show happen. “Noah and John just had a take that was so unique and wonderful,” Loeb said. “When Noah first told us the story, you couldn’t deny it. I always joke that Noah is Legion. He’s creating a world inside his head.”
Speaking of the show’s clearly unique quality, Donner said, “It has to exist on its own plane. It can’t ever cross over with the movies — or why watch it?”
Goldman asked Stevens if he’s looking forward to playing Legion without the Shadow King inside him. “Yes,” Stevens answered. “What fills that void? There are a lot of questions I still have for Noah.”
Keller said she’s looking forward to her character, Sydney, realizing her powers can be used for good, rather a curse, as she had previously looked at it.
Turning to Plaza, Goldman asked about her character’s complicated journey from Lenny Busker to being revealed as the Shadow King. “It was a wild ride, man,” Plaza said. “It was really fun. I kind of knew the broad strokes of where Lenny would end up, but I didn’t know how I would get there.”
Discussing Melanie’s future, given Oliver’s status, Smart said, “There’s always that ‘hope springs eternal,’ but in some ways she might think, ‘I tried, and it didn’t work.'”
Talking the unique relationship between Cary Loudermilk and Kerry Loudermilk, Midthunder said, “I find myself describing them more as siblings, and I find you describe them more as the parent dynamic.” “She has a lot to learn,” Irwin added. “She knows plenty!”
“I think he’s definitely sitting on a lot of trauma,” Harris said of his character, Ptonomy Wallace. “He’s fearless when it comes to expressing his opinion, because he’s seen so much.”
Hawley dropped some news on season two, starting on the status of David Haller himself and then a major piece of casting: “He went on a little ride in a little ball, and that obviously will take him some place, and he’ll have to get his way back to the others, he said informatively,” Hawley said. “We are going to meet the Shadow King, Amahl Farouk, who will be played by a fabulous actor named Saïd Taghmaoui.” Taghmaoui was recently seen as Sameer in Wonder Woman.
“If season one was the honeymoon, season two is figuring out, how will this actually work?” Hawley said.
“I think the thing that makes Marvel different and unique, and part of the reason why these characters connect with the audience is, they start out ads regular folks,” Loeb said. “People with hopes and dreams. But in reality, their life is poop. What I love about this cast is, everybody has a secret, and hopefully, we’re cheering for the right guy.”
Of Hawley’s creativity, Loeb said, “He’s living in the future, and we’re living wherever we are, and we’ll catch up eventually.”
The panel revealed that Stevens was feeling sick when filming the show’s Bollywood sequence. “It’s not a great dance style to perform while you’re nauseous,” Stevens told the crowd. “There’s a lot of spinning.”
Asked for memorable scenes from the filming of the show, Smart said, “I thought that scene we did where we had no voice, that was difficult but it really was an interesting scene to work on. They didn’t just turn the sound off, you had to pretend you didn’t hear the other people. That was an interesting day.”
“There were days when Amber and her wonderful stunt double were laying out five or six stunt guys,” Irwin said. “Just to be standing on the sidelines on those days were great.” “Or just to be walking through the studio and seeing [Irwin] dance by himself with a broom,” Midthunder said.
When asked if the show will include more flashbacks to David’s youth, Hawley answered, “We know his story pretty well now, but we don’t know everybody’s story really well. I think there are other people we may see what brought them to this moment.”
When asked if Professor Xavier would appear on the show, Hawley said that it was up to Jeph Loeb. Stevens pointed out that he was on The Late Late Show in March alongside fellow guest Patrick Stewart, and reminded the crowd that Stewart was very excited about the possibility.
A fan asked if — or when — Professor X shows up on Legion, if it would be the older or younger version of the character. “I don’t know yet what that would be,” Hawley answered. “On some level it would depend on who would do it. When we reach that part of the story — is it funnier if it’s the older one or the younger one? I don’t know. It’d be great if you were older than your dad.” “A Back to the Future kind of thing,” Stevens added.
Stevens told a fan that some of his facial expressions are “lifted directly from the comics.”
An audience member asked which song the cast would like to see their characters perform in season two. Plaza quickly answered: “‘Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)’ by Garth Brooks.” Smart said “My Man” from Funny Girl. Keller: “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd; Stevens: “‘Just the Two of Us’?” “I’m writing this all down by the way,” Hawley said.
A fan complimented the panel for the show’s depiction of mental illness. “It’s very important to me that this show not be a gimmick,” Hawley said.
Loeb took a moment to express his enthusiasm for the number of female fans who asked questions during the panel, saying that it, “speaks not only to the quality of the show, but it speaks to all of you out there.” While some may see comic book-based material as a “boy’s world,” Loeb said, “It’s not an anything world. It’s a human world.”
The last fan at the microphone asked what the panelists wanted to see from their characters in season two. Plaza: “I want to ride on a horse.” Smart: “I want to do a tango with Oliver.” Stevens: “Can I get out of the orb?”
Before things wrapped, Hawley left the session with a major tease. “Because I’m at Comic-Con, I wanted to let you know about a movie I’m developing for Fox. The first word is ‘Doctor.’ And the second is ‘Doom.'”
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