Legion Chapter 12 - Egon Schiele

‘Legion’: That Egon Schiele Self-Portrait Is More Important Than You Think

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The latest episode of FX’s Legion, “Chapter 12,” featured an incredible cover of “Burning Down The House,” a special guest star with Lily Rabe — and a recurring tableau. As we moved in pieces through the life of Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), we returned time and again to a museum featuring an exhibit of works by Egon Schiele. David (Dan Stevens) focused on a couple making out in front of the exhibit, but savvy fans of Marvel Comics might want to take note of the pictures behind.

Specifically because Legion co-creator Bill Sienkiewicz was inspired to give the character his distinctive comics look because of Egon Schiele’s “Self-Portrait.”

As originally noted in this great Vulture behind the scenes on the making of the show, Sienkiewicz used the painter’s rail-thin body and tall hair to channel comics-David’s unhinged intensity.

Schiele was a perfect match for the X-Men character, and maybe an even better match for the show. He was known for raw sexuality and helped kick off the expressionist movement. He also died at age 28, which certainly ties into the “live fast, die young” conclusion we reached at the end of “Chapter 12.”

Sienkiewicz’s art is, and has always been remarkably expressionistic. Versus the capes and tights that characterize most superhero fiction, Sienkiewicz played loose with lines and dark colors. His runs on “The New Mutants” and “Elektra: Assassin” in particular are revelatory, feeling more like the Schiele exhibit we saw on screen than your typical X-Men comic book. They also lent an air of horror to the books, something Legion the show pulls on liberally.

Sienkiewicz called out the inspo on Twitter last night, saying Schiele was the, “emotionally, psychologically perfect inspiration,” for a series of portraits the former had done of the Legion cast:

So sure Stevens might not have comics-Legion’s distinctive tall hair, don’t care. But a little bit of his origin story still worked its way into the show.

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