Despite starring the son of Professor Charles Xavier, Legion has been notoriously reluctant to acknowledge any connection to Marvel‘s merry mutants. Aside from the occasional easter egg and that hairdo, the first two seasons of Noah Hawley’s show felt almost entirely removed from the world of superheroes, focusing instead on the trippy psychedelia associated with David Haller’s mental illness.
However, the third and final season of Legion took a surprising turn when it was announced that David (Dan Stevens)’s father would finally appear in the flesh. Played by Harry Lloyd, Charles Xavier had a crucial role throughout season three, and even wore the now infamous Cerebro helmet at one point too.
Just before season three premiered on TV, star Dan Stevens explained to Collider that the last episodes would “finally have a string that ties our crazy balloon to the main raft of the X-Men stories”.
At face value, it appeared that this “satisfying” thread would involve the introduction of Xavier somehow. But at the time, we didn’t realise quite how direct this connection would be.
Watch out for mind-bending Legion spoilers from here on out:
In “Chapter 28,” the final episode of Legion season three, an adult David fought younger and older versions of Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban) in the past alongside his father, Xavier. However, things took a surprising turn when Charles managed to broker an alliance with David’s sworn enemy, ensuring that the Shadow King would leave the Xaviers alone from now on.
As if that wasn’t confusing enough, a time-traveling mutant called Switch (Lauren Tsai) also transcended into the fourth dimension around this point, enabling her to stop the world from ending and allow time to resume its course.
As complicated as that might sound, what’s important to take away from this is that everything we’ve seen across the show’s three seasons has now been rewritten. The very last scene shows David as a small baby, reusing the same shot that opened the very first episode of Legion.
Everything is circular, but this time round, there’s one crucial change.
Before, the professor abandoned his son, leaving him vulnerable to the evils of the world. Knowing now what could happen in his absence, Xavier decides to stay with his family, giving David the chance to grow up with the love and support he needs. By doing so, his actions would theoretically stop the apocalyptic events of season three from ever taking place.
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When Charles decides to make this fresh start and avoid the mistakes of the past, he tells his wife something rather intriguing that hints at his future involvement with the X-Men:
“No more travel, no more bloodshed. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”
As perhaps the most famous teacher in comics, Charles’s desire to educate is a clear nod towards his future as Professor Xavier. It’s rather fitting that Legion would finally choose to acknowledge the team’s existence in the series finale, but why weren’t they mentioned before?
One potential explanation is that they didn’t even exist in the Legion timeline at all up until now.
By going back in time to rewrite his past, David motivates his father to stay in the mansion and become a teacher, which therefore leads to the foundation of the X-Men. This newfound desire to educate stems directly from what Xavier learned in the season three finale – and so, Legion’s final episode sets up the X-Men’s very existence, right there on screen.
Whether or not these X-Men are the same as the ones we’ve come to know and love on screen is up for debate, given that Legion has always positioned itself as “an alternate take on the same universe”.
Either way, creator Noah Hawley didn’t have any direct conversations about the X-Men’s future on screen with Marvel when planning the finale.
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Speaking to Indiewire, the Legion showrunner explained that “I wasn’t really up for a lot of tangential conversations about things, and I’m not in the inner circle for the reinvention, or the Disney-fication, of what the X-Men is likely to be.”
That doesn’t mean Legion’s connection to the X-Men hasn’t been on Hawley’s mind, though. In an interview with Deadline, the show’s creator discussed the kind of conversations they had regarding Xavier’s timeline and how that fits into the wider X-Men universe:
“It didn’t seem consistent with any timeline to have the older version,” he said. “So, then the question became, ‘Well, all right, so if he’s a young man, then how young is he? And where is he in the large story?'”
The finale ends with this young version of Xavier, and an even younger version of David who’s still just a baby. By rewriting everything that’s come before and starting again, the Legion finale also creates a blank slate for future interpretations of the character.
Although no more episodes are on the cards at FX, the recent Disney/Fox merger opens up the possibility of incorporating David’s story into the MCU at large.
If that ever happens, Dan Stevens reckons Legion would “probably take on Thanos” – and if he did, then the X-Men probably wouldn’t be far behind either.