If you’ve watched even an episode of FX’s Legion, you’ve probably been wondering, what year is Legion set in? The answer gets even trickier when you start discussing the weird, fluid continuity of the comics and movies Legion is based on.
So let’s break it down, shall we?
When is Legion set?
This is one of the big questions on Reddit. User jaesin says, “It’s supposed to be intentionally vague and undetermined.”
…And frankly, I think that’s the correct answer. You’re not supposed to know whether the mash-up of ’60s and ’70s fashions and the best music of the ’80s, ’90s and today. Yes, the tech often looks very old. But also, what exactly does a machine that rips your soul out and changes the shape of your body look like?
Showrunner Noah Hawley backs this up, and even clarifies: the time period isn’t clear, because we’re not actually seeing the real world at all. In an interview with EW, Hawley noted that what we’re seeing is through David Haller’s (Dan Stevens) viewpoint.
When I wrote the script I assumed it was set in present day and in our world, and I think the network assumed that too. Then when it came time to make it I thought about it more as a fable on some level and I realized I wanted to make something subjective. Which is to say this whole show is not the world, it’s David’s experience of the world. He’s piecing his world together from nostalgia and memory and the world becomes that.
So since David doesn’t know what year it is, neither do the viewers.
What year is Legion set in?
Let’s get even more granular. Though it may be an alternate universe, Legion is loosely connected to the X-Men movies. So what year is Legion set in?
Complicating matters is the strange, sliding timeline of the X-Men movies. Initially they were set “in the near future.” Then X-Men: First Class was expressly set in the 1960s. Days of Future Past was set in the ’70s, and Apocalypse was set in the ’80s. If it ever comes out, Dark Phoenix will be set in the ’90s, meaning that by the time the original X-Men rolled around, Magneto would be about 70-80 years old.
So where does Legion fall in all of this? As we’ll seemingly explore in “Chapter 14,” we’ll be exploring alternate timelines. Aesthetically, it looks like Legion is in line with First Class. But Professor X (James McAvoy) doesn’t lose his hair until Apocalypse, and we’ve seen animated sequences of a bald man fighting The Shadow King on Legion.
On the other hand, there was a flash of Professor X’s chair from Days of Future Past in Season 1, which seems to squarely center this after this movie. But who knows?
So the short answer is, it doesn’t match up with the movie timeline by design. Long answer is we may find out where Legion falls on the Legion timeline compared to the movie timeline… And soon.
Be sure to subscribe to our Legion podcast for recaps as soon each episode is done airing!