Legion: EP Noah Hawley on Similarities to Fargo and His Comic Book Fandom

FX's upcoming "Legion" series is rather proudly unconnected to previous X-Men stories, in comic books or live-action, to the extent that longtime X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner recently confirmed that the show is in its "own world."

Yet that doesn't mean that showrunner and executive producer Noah Hawley -- acclaimed for his work on FX's "Fargo" -- isn't an X-Men fan. In previous interviews, he's talked about being an X-Men reader in his teenage years, during writer Chris Claremont's storied run on the Marvel characters. Recently Hawley spoke to members of the press in a conference call, and CBR asked how his time with the X-Men as a fan may have influenced -- directly or indirectly -- his work on the X-Men-inspired TV series.

"What's great about the phases of that comic, as well as others, is as new artists or new writers came in, you would have a shift in the style, and even the darkness to lightness spectrum that the books used," Hawley told CBR. "My memories of the Claremont X-Men of that time was, they were always story first, and they were always using whatever the crisis was as a way of exploring the characters. It was about a group of people who didn't really fit in anywhere, having to learn to fit in together, and that wasn't always easy."

Still, other than the main character of David Haller (played on the show by Dan Stevens) and comments that, like in the comics, his father will be Professor Xavier -- though with no indication yet on how or if that may be explored on the show -- there aren't any overt ties to the X-Men known at this point to be a part of "Legion." It's easy to make a parallel between Hawley's other FX show, as "Fargo" adapted an existing property without using any of the characters from the 1996 film, gaining copious critical acclaim along the way.

Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller on "Legion."

"I approached this in many ways the way I approached 'Fargo,'" Hawley said. "In that case, I was asked to adapt the movie "Fargo" without any of the characters or stories from the movie, which was a very odd thing to think about. How do you take the essence of the story and translate it into a completely new movie? But it liberated me in a lot of ways to create something where I wasn't imitating. I wasn't taking pieces that Joel and Ethan [Coen] had created and mimicking them. I was approaching with respect for the underlying material, and then saying, 'You know what? That makes me think of this.'"

Hawley stressed that fans shouldn't watch "Legion" expecting to see comic book stories directly translated to the big screen, as he's hoping to "create something unexpected."

"I wasn't necessarily interested in taking any of the story runs from the comics, and saying, 'Issues #4-#8 are our first season, and issues #9-#12 are our second season,'" Hawley said to CBR. "It was more saying, what is the particular makeup of this character, and the themes and challenges that he faces, and how can I fit that into a story that I want to tell, that plays into my strengths? The character himself sort of led me to the story, which led me to the style."

"Legion" is scheduled to debut Feb. 8 on FX.

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