FX’s Legion centres on some of the most powerful mutants from Marvel’s comics, but rather than depicting David Haller and the Shadow King’s psychic might with cheesy, expensive CGI set pieces, series creator Noah Hawley wanted to do something a little more artistically experimental.
The big telepathic battle that opens Legion‘s second season either takes place on the Astral Plane or within David’s mind – it isn’t clear – but regardless of where the setting literally is, it’s presented as a packed bar where David and Farouk duke it out on the dance floor with their feet rather than their fists.
It’s a curious and odd approach to the kind of epic fight sequence that’s become a hallmark of live-action comic book adaptations, and because of the slightly unhinged tone that Legion‘s always had as a whole, the dance fighting works brilliantly.
In a new behind-the-scenes featurette, Hawley explains how he knew that Legion had to approach its epic brawls differently in order to set itself apart from all of the other cape television shows and movies that have introduced heavy-hitting characters from the source material:
“We reveal that David is keeping secrets. We realise now that he met with Farouk before he went to Division 3. You can do that scene in a fight sequence or a chase sequence – any of that stuff which is very standard for this genre. I just don’t find that that interesting,” Hawley explains. “I just decided to make it more metaphorical. This dance battle as I thought about it, like is it a courtship dance? Is it a fight? So this idea, this very peacocking, posturing, rams butting heads, that kind of thing, which, in the language of dance is so great.”
Composer Jeff Russo also explained how he goes about putting together pieces of music for scenes like the psychic battle by going over the script, picking out the moments that need to be punctuated by particular flourishes, and then deciding what kind of tone and feel to give to individual characters. It’s yet another example of how, at least on the TV side of things, Marvel’s X-Men properties are smoking the competition when it comes to finding innovative ways to bring their more fantastical elements to life using practical effects – something that always makes genre fiction immediately more fun to watch.