Oh, my stars and garters! Marvel’s mutants are finally coming to the small screen in live-action form. Marvel Entertainment and Fox announced today that they’re partnering up on two series based on characters and ideas from Marvel’s X-Men comics. The legal ins and outs are, like X-Men continuity, more than a little complex.
The first series is Legion, which received a pilot order by FX Networks (owned by Fox). It’ll follow the trials and tribulations of a possibly super-powered young man named David Haller, who, in Marvel’s comics tales, is the ultra-powerful son of Professor X. In the show, he’s apparently been diagnosed as a schizophrenic, but “after a strange encounter with a fellow patient, he’s confronted with the possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees might be real.” (No word on his parentage.)
The second series is in development, but its working title is Hellfire. It “follows a young Special Agent who learns that a power-hungry woman with extraordinary abilities is working with a clandestine society of millionaires – known as the “Hellfire Club,” according to a press release from Fox. In the comics universe, the Hellfire Club is a sinister secret society ruled by rich and conspiratorial mutants, most notably telepath Emma Frost. It’s worth noting that we saw a 1960s version of the Hellfire Club in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. No word on whether this one will have anything to do with that one — or, for that matter, whether either of these shows will exist in a shared universe with the X-Men movies.
For decades, Fox has owned the film rights to the X-Men and its affiliated characters. But the TV rights have long been disputed, which is why you’ve never seen a live-action X-Men spinoff in an era when we already have hit televised versions of Marvel’s non-X-Men characters (whose rights are, like Marvel Entertainment itself, owned by Disney) and figures from DC’s Flash, Batman, and Green Arrow mythologies. We’ve known for a while that Fox and Marvel were trying to hammer out a deal to do an X-show, and this would suggest they’ve made huge strides.
But the news releases announcing the shows conspicuously lack any use of the terms “mutant” or “X-Men,” or even any character names other than David Haller. This appears to be the closest deal Fox and Marvel have had in their notoriously chilly relationship, but we’re still probably a long way away from The Young Wolverine Chronicles or Road Trippin’ With Storm and Jubilee.