Doctor Doom, of course, is also the king of a fictional nation called Latveria. The character is known for his imperious manner and the speech above almost sounds like something that could be transposed verbatim into a movie script where Doom was addressing Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Sue Richards, AKA Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic.

As CBR points out, Legion seems to be embracing the notion here that every villain is the hero of his own story. That’s exactly the kind of treatment Doctor Doom deserves on the big screen. People question whether a comic book movie centered on a villain could work, but there’s a huge crop of prestige TV dramas that have already done something similar in the 21st century. Shows like The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad, and House of Cards have been set in heightened realities where mob bosses, dirty cops, drug dealers, and murderous politicians were sanctioned to thrive as the protagonists of their own stories. It’s gotten to the point where anti-heroes have actually become somewhat blase since people started throwing around the term “Golden Age of Television” years ago.

With that in mind, it’s not entirely inconceivable that the television version of David Haller could be headed down a road where he eventually breaks bad like his comic book counterpart. The show may already have been hinting at that, in fact. It’s shown the level of destruction David was capable of, how he could single-handedly wipe out all of his sister’s abductors back at Division 3 during the show’s first season. Who better than the most powerful mutant on the planet to usher in the dark future from which Syd seems to be communicating with him this season?

When the younger David manages to interface mentally with the older Syd, she stares at him and says, “I never thought I’d see you again like this.” David interprets this to mean he could be dead in the future, to which Syd responds: “It’s complicated.” This season, we’ve already had the voice of Jon Hamm narrating a series of sideline vignettes, each of which serves as a commentary on the main narrative. In the most vividly enacted of these vignettes, an unholy delusion — seen as a malformed creature covered in black goo — was shown hatching out of an egg and crawling along the floor until it came upon and killed a cute baby chick (or healthy idea). As this unfolded on-screen, Hamm’s voice narrated:

A delusion starts like any other idea, as an egg. Identical on the outside, perfectly formed. From the shell, you’d never know anything was wrong. It’s what inside that matters. Albert A had an idea. One day as he was walking, he stumbled. And for a moment it seemed that his right leg didn’t belong to him. This is how it begins. The leg was clearly Albert’s. It was attached to his body, and when he pricked it, he felt pain. But despite that, the idea grew. Such is the power of an idea. With every day that passed, Albert became more and more certain that this was not his leg. He decided he didn’t want it anymore. And so one day, he went to the hardware store. You see, an idea alone isn’t enough. We have ideas all the time, random thoughts and theories. Most die before they can grow. For a delusion to thrive, other, more rational ideas must be rejected, destroyed. Only then can the delusion blossom into full-blown psychosis.

When you consider this voice-over in light of Farouk’s speech, it seems quite possible that the speech may have just been part of the Shadow King’s self-deception as well as his ongoing effort to deceive David and lead him down the road to possible possession in a future episode.

The Comics Connection

In the comics, the destruction of Farouk’s body enabled the Shadow King to become a being of pure telepathic energy that could fully inhabit human hosts like David Haller, the son of his arch-rival, Professor Charles Francis Xavier. While Magneto would become the team’s greatest enemy, Professor X even said at various points that the Shadow King was the whole reason he formed the X-Men in the first place.

The show has put David on a quest to reunite Farouk with his body, but it’s possible that body has been acting as an anchor, weighing down Farouk’s spiritual form. It’s easy to imagine Farouk tricking David into destroying the body so that he could become an all-powerful psychic entity and thereby possess David. Even if David tries to reject Farouk’s pernicious influence and ultimately follows through on killing the Shadow King in body and soul, it’s possible that the damage might already be done. Just by talking to Farouk, not to mention secretly conspiring to help him, David has opened his mind up to the planting of delusional seeds. He’s like the boy in that other vignette being taught that the color red is called “green” so that he walks out in front of traffic.

If David has other personalities living inside him (as the show’s title and his super-villain name in the comics do suggest), then either Farouk himself and/or a more dangerous side to David may soon begin to manifest itself as David’s dominant personality. Maybe he’s the one who stripped future Syd of one of her arms.

In Breaking Bad, Walter White famously underwent an arc of Mr. Chips to Scarface. Right now, from week to week, on Legion, we could be witnessing a comic book character turned TV protagonist undergo an arc just like that. It’s not to say that David would necessarily have to reach a point where he became irredeemable, like Walter. It’s just to say that there might be dark things in store for him in the episodes (and seasons?) of the show to come.

Whatever happens, Hawley has definitely mounted what is shaping up to be one of the most unique, visionary comic book adaptations on television. Despite its oddball touches, which might prove endearing for some viewers but frustrating for others, it’s also a show with real, undeniable cinematic touches. The opening of this week’s episode was the kind of television that would make a channel-surfer stop and sit transfixed, even if it was only for a few minutes until the show cut to its first commercial.

Whatever else it is, Legion gets to the core of David Haller and the Shadow King as characters. Seen as a testing ground of sorts for Hawley’s grasp of Marvel villains, it makes a bold statement for what he could do if given a bigger budget, a wider canvas, and a degree of artistic license to tell the story of Victor Von Doom the way he wanted.

Marvel Studios has a track record of more journeyman directors than it does auteurs, so if and when Disney’s acquisition of Fox does go through, here’s hoping that Hawley would be able to work well under a different sort of showrunner: namely, studio head and MCU architect Kevin Feige. Having seen the vivid way Black Panther’s Wakanda was realized on-screen, it would be great to see the MCU pull off another feat of world-building like that with Latveria. If a B-list X-Men villain like Legion can carry his own TV show, there’s certainly no super-villain more deserving of his own movie than Doctor Doom.

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