Are you ready for more comic book adaptations on TV? Marvel and 20th Century Fox are expanding the X-Men movie universe to the small screen. Two spin-off pilots are in development featuring Mutants who will exist alongside the heroes and villains established in the successful big screen X-Men franchise.
The Disney-owned Marvel Television has struck a deal to bring more of their popular characters to TV, and these shows will not air on ABC, the network it also owns.
The Disney/Marvel Studios duo produces the projects set in the flagship Marvel Cinematic Universe (which also encompasses Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix shows). 20th Century Fox has the movie rights to the large world of X-Men characters as well as the Fantastic Four (well, we know how the latter recently went). This new pact will allow 20th Century Fox to bring new X-Men adventures to television viewers at home.
Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg will Executive Produce Hellfire (working title for now) at FOX, based on the Hellfire Club introduced in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.
Set in the late 1960s, the series – which will be produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Marvel Television, with 20thCentury Fox handling the physical production – 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” – to take over the world.
“HELLFIRE is a unique opportunity to be able to go deeper with some of these extraordinary characters, but to also dramatize new characters and give TV viewers a chance to experience this expanded world in an explosive way that everyone will be talking about,” Jonathan Davis, President, Creative Affairs, 20th Century Fox Television said in a press release. “The action at the center of HELLFIRE will be dynamic and will satisfy the rabid fans, but that said, newcomers will surely be addicted too!”
The Hellfire Club in X-Men: First Class was led by the powerful mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and featured Emma Frost (January Jones) as his cohort. Whether these characters are featured in the show remains to be seen. If Marvel is keen on keeping the continuity fluid across the big and small screens (as they do with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), it will be an interesting juggle.
FX has a pilot order for Legion, “the story of a troubled young man who may be more than human,” under the watchful creative eye of Noah Hawley (FX’s Fargo) who will EP alongside Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Jeph Loeb, Jim Chory and John Cameron.
The pilot introduces the story of David Haller: Since he was a teenager, David has struggled with mental illness. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, David has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. 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.
“Legion is just the sort of ambitious story that Noah excels at,” said Nick Grad, Presidents of Original Programming, FX Networks and FX Productions in a press release. “His adaption of Fargo for television was one of the most acclaimed television events in recent memory. It’s also an honor to partner with Marvel on Legion and to enlist such an accomplished team of Executive Producers to create this pilot.”
In the comics lore, David Haller is the son of Charles Xavier. How this may (or may not) play out in the pilot is anyone’s guess, especially with Professor X as a live action character identified so clearly by James MacEvoy and Patrick Stewart and no mention has been made of any potential offspring.
20th Century Fox has been actively expanding the live action X-Men footprint. In addition to the main film series (X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters in May), the studio has a final Wolverine film in the works as well as the spin-offs Deadpool (starring Ryan Reynolds) and Gambit (starring Channing Tatum). Adding TV shows is a wise move to enrich that growing continuity.
It goes without saying that Disney had to sign off on the deal, and it will be interesting to see if any trade-offs were required on the part of 20th Century Fox. Anything to do with the rights to Fantastic Four immediately come to mind.