(Note: This post contains spoilers for the FX original series”Legion” through the March 15 episode.)
Things are heating up on “Legion” as protagonist David (Dan Stevens) battles for control of his own head with the evil Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) — who this week dropped a bombshell that could tie directly into the “X-Men” universe.
In Episode 6, Lenny traps David and his friends in a mental projection of Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, the institution where David was being treated way back in the beginning of the show. In the last few episodes, “Legion” has been dropping more clues about who, or what, the psychic project of Lenny really is. In the latest episode, she makes reference to David’s father, who apparently gave him up for adoption.
Lenny mentions that David’s dad didn’t give him up to abandon him, but to hide him from Lenny. That makes a lot of sense, given what comic fans know about who the character of Legion is, and who his parents are.
Over the course of the season, it’s seemed like “Legion” was hinting that the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, David’s personal spooky demon, might be a psychic comic supervillain known as the Shadow King. The king is apparently an evil mutant, and has the ability to possess people and even take over their bodies in the “X-Men” comics.
We know now that Lenny and a few other projections in David’s mind, like his childhood dog King, are all fronts for the Devil to get in good with David.
Based on what Lenny says in Episode 6, it seems like a pretty good bet that Lenny is the Shadow King, especially because in the comics, the King has had some run-ins with David’s dad — “X-Men” leader Professor Charles Xavier.
We haven’t seen any confirmation in the show that Professor X is David’s father, but “Legion” creator Noah Hawley has discussed the David’s parentage before. It’s too big of an element not to include, but it seems like “Legion” is holding back that detail for a big reveal later on. And Lenny bringing up David’s dad seems like a pretty solid confirmation that she is the Shadow King, and she’s tangled with Professor X before.
In the “X-Men” comics, the Shadow King and Professor X faced off on the astral plane a couple of times. Xavier has even defeated the King in the past, and the King fears his power. That fits what Lenny has said in “Legion” — the two have a history, and Professor X gave David up for adoption at least in part to hide him from the King. Of course, that didn’t work.
In the comics, the King first encounters Xavier in Egypt, when the King was possessing a man named Amahl Farouk and living as a crime boss. Farouk tried to pull Xavier in on his enterprise, but Xavier, being a good guy, resisted. They fought and Xavier won — an encounter that would lead him to form the team of mutant superheroes known as the X-Men. The Shadow King survived the encounter, and waited for a chance to strike back at Xavier.
The Shadow King went on to possess Legion in the comics and take over the mutant research facility at Muir Island, along with the people there. That included Moira MacTaggert, who recently has been played by Rose Byrne in “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.” The X-Men showed up and broke the King’s psychic hold on the island’s inhabitants, and Professor X was able to stop the King while he possessed Legion.
It doesn’t seem like much of that specific backstory is making its way into “Legion,” but Lenny’s comments to David at least show the Devil has a history with Xavier. What’s interesting is that we haven’t seen anything alluding to that in the most recent “X-Men” movies, in which Professor X is played by James McAvoy (and previously was played by Patrick Stewart in the first three “X-Men” movies and the recently released Wolverine-centric movie “Logan”).
Those movies change the formation of the original X-Men. We’ve also seen a lot of Xavier’s early life before he started his school for mutants, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and neither the Shadow King nor Farouk has played into those stories.