FX Orders 'X-Men' Take 'Legion' to Series

'Fargo's' Noah Hawley serves as showrunner on the eight-episode drama starring Dan Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart and Rachel Keller.
Chris Large-FX
Dan Stevens in 'Legion'

Days after X-Men: Apocalypse bowed in theaters, FX is bringing its own take on the franchise to the small screen.

The cabler has picked up Noah Hawley's X-Men take Legion to series with an eight-episode order, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The drama will debut in early 2017.

Legion introduces the story of David Haller (Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens), a man who may be more than human and who has struggled with mental illness since his teenage years. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, David has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. But after a strange encounter with a fellow patient, he is confronted with the possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees might be real. In the comics, David is the son of X-Men founder Charles Xavier (aka Professor X) and Israeli Holocaust survivor Gabrielle Haller. The character first appeared in New Mutants No. 25 in March 1985.

Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza will play Lenny, David's friend; Fargo grads Jean Smart and Rachel Keller will take on Melanie, a therapist, and a character rumored to be a mix of Rogue and Spyke, respectively. 

“We’ve come to expect excellence from Noah Hawley and with Legion he has delivered another major creative achievement,” said FX original programming president Nick Grad. “Just as he did in reimagining Fargo, he is bringing an entirely new aesthetic and sensibility to the enormously popular and richly represented X-Men world. The pilot episode is stunning, driven by incredible performances from Dan Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart, Rachel Keller and the rest of the cast. We join our producing partners at Marvel in congratulating the creative team for what they’ve accomplished and are as excited as the fans for the premiere of Legion’s first season.”

Legion hails from FX Productions and Marvel Television, with FXP overseeing production. Hawley, who has an overall deal with FXP, penned the pilot and executive produces alongside Lauren Shuler Donner (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wolverine), Bryan Singer (X-MenDays of Future Past, Superman Returns), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Martian) and Marvel Television topper Jeph Loeb (Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil) and Jim Chory (Daredevil). John Cameron also is on board as an exec producer, via his overall deal with FXP, marking his and Hawley's latest collaboration after Golden Globe-winning anthology Fargo.

The news comes some seven months after FX ordered Legion to pilot and after X-Men: Apocalypse had a disappointing bow over the weekend at the box office (a soft $80 million).

Legion extends Marvel's small-screen empire. The comic book powerhouse also has ABC's Agents of SHIELD and multiple series at Netflix, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders and the Punisher spinoff. While ABC passed on a third season of Agent Carter and SHIELD spinoff Marvel's Most Wanted, Fox is still readying Hellfire.

FX becomes the latest network to turn to comics. AMC hit ratings gold with The Walking Dead, and The CW has found success with its DC Comics slate that now includes Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Fox, for its part, also has Batman prequel Gotham, and NBC has DC Comics' first comedy entry, Powerless, due midseason.

For Hawley, Legion joins FX's critical darling Fargo on its schedule and a drama lineup that also features American Horror Story, American Crime Story, The Americans, The Strain, Tyrant and the upcoming Ryan Murphy anthology Feud. On the pilot side, FX's lone drama awaiting word is John Singleton's redeveloped Snowfall.

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