Reel SDCC: Legion

Legion

The Legion panel proved to be my first mad dash panel of the weekend at Comic-Con. The Netflix movie panel ended at 4:30 and Legion was set to start at 5:00.  You have to throw in about 10 minutes of walking time to get to the other room and a wait in line, even for some of the press. I made it to the Legion line at about 4:45 and then I remembered something.

On my Instagram entertainment page, G_Reelz, I post sponsored content for the show and even received some love from their official Instagram page when I posted a picture of a huge Legion poster that was displayed in the sprawling landscape of the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. I sent a message to the official Instagram page about how I was waiting in line and would love to be able to get in on time to cover the event. About 2 minutes after sending the message I get a message back to walk to another entrance which had a lot of signs that said Exit only. I went over and waited for another minute and a marketing guy from FX came out and asked me to show him my Instagram page and before I knew it he was ushering me into the third row from the panel stage. Not gonna lie, it was a very cool feeling.

The panel began with a 7-minute scene from the season finale which was a brilliant showcase of the show’s unique visual palette and its ability to jump through genres with the greatest of ease. By the time it was over, the crowd was cheering and it was time to bring out the cast and crew.  The panel assembled showrunner Noah Hawley, executive producer John Cameron, executive producer Jeph Loeb, and executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner alongside cast members Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart, Bill Irwin, Amber Midthunder, and Jeremie Harris. The panel mostly discussed season one but there was some teasing for season 2 as well.

No one on the panel could say when the show would exactly be returning but season 2 will be back sometime in early 2018. The date makes sense with Hawley fresh off  Fargo season 3 and I imagine that Legion is a complicated show to put together both visually and psychologically. What we can look forward to are more episodes in season 2 which received a renewal order for 10 episodes, up 2 from the first season.

The Shadow King will be getting a new face for season 2. During the course of Legion’s first season, we learned of the identity that is lurking around David Heller’s troubled mind: Amahl Farouk, a.k.a., The Shadow King. Although he took on many forms in season 1, most frequently as Lenny played by Aubrey Plaza, we never saw his “true” identity. Season 2 will change that as actor Said Taghmaoui has been cast in the role. You may remember him from Wonder Woman & Three Kings (Hawley quotes the latter during the panel which shows he’s a true fan) and don’t worry about Plaza being put on the back burner because of this. Her wonderfully deranged performance is a highlight of the show and they certainly know it. Hawley says that Taghmaoui’s Shadow King, Plaza’s Lenny & Jemaine Clement’s Oliver Bird will form a trio next season.

The issue of legal tidbits was brought up since most fans know that David Heller is the son of Professor Charles Xavier. This led many to believe that we would be getting a lot of X-Men crossovers but this will most likely not be the case. There was the reasoning of how it has to exist on its own level and if it crosses over with a familiar product than why watch it? That’s all well and good but Jeph Loeb, Executive Vice President of Marvel Television, was honest and said a lot of it is a corporate conversation that has a lot to do with rights to characters. Would he love to see Patrick Stewart come on? Absolutely but there are legal wrangling and issues between movie studios and TV studios that need to be worked out. Dan Stevens revealed after this that he was on a talk show with Patrick Stewart and brought up Legion to him and he had no clue what it was. Stevens explained the concept to him and when the other actors asked if he seemed interested, Stevens said he seemed into the idea. When it was asked if they couldn’t get the old one, could they get the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) which lead to laughter from the crowd and the panel and basically an answer to whoever was available and said yes first?

The great thing about the panel is that everyone up there gets the show. Jeph Loeb had been fitting a long time to get this made (the same sentiment he shared about developing Inhumans at ABC) and he commended the FX network for being brave enough to take it on and giving them the freedom to tell the stories they wanted to tell. This isn’t the most linear show and it can get complicated but it’s ultimately gratifying in the end. It’s clear that all involved know that.

It’s also clear the cast loves each other which seemed to be the theme for all the panels I went to. Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder, who essentially share a body on the show, highlighted on the panel and working together so closely has formed this natural brother/sister bond between the two. The whole cast seems to love Dan Stevens and commended his difficult work on the show but most of the laughs were provided by Aubrey Plaza who somehow makes sarcasm a true art form. She clearly respects the show but her delivery on the panel was almost always drenched in sarcasm. The cast seemed to get it because they were laughing just as much as we were.

The panel ended with Hawley dropping his own news that has nothing to do with the show. He’s developing a Dr. Doom film with 20th Century Fox and this news has the crowd on their feet. It was a perfect drop the mic moment that showed that’s how you get the social media world buzzing with just a few simple words. I got to experience all of this so close to the stage and that made the experience all the more special.

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About Gaius Bolling 711 Articles
At the age of five, I knew I wanted to write movies and about them. I've set out to make those dreams come true. As an alumni of the Los Angeles Film Academy, I participated in their Screenwriting program, while building up my expertise in film criticism. I write reviews that relate to the average moviegoer by educating my readers and keeping it fun. My job is to let you know the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of cinema, so you can have your best moviegoing experience. You can find more of my writing on Instagram @g_reelz.
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