‘Legion’: 12-Year-Old Mutants and Personal Identity

Identity remains to be perhaps one of the most enduring issues a person can experience in one’s lifetime. However, FOX’s Legion TV series presents us with another question: what if you don’t know where to begin? Matter-of-factly, as I ponder upon the issue myself, I realized I wasn’t an exception to David Haller’s personality crisis.

It makes sense – astronomy fans will know the Earth and the rest of the matter we see and detect barely make up 4 percent of the known universe. If you are one in a million, this also means there’s exactly 7,000 other people like you.

In the face of these realities, just where do we exactly belong? Unfortunately, for the mind of 12-year-old me, that was a question I had a hard time answering. At this moment, around nine years ago, I had a similar problem in mind.

Who am “I”?

With a grade school diploma on its way, I knew high school was going to be its own terrifying experience. I never had a lot of friends the years prior that, and I was glad enough I could spend Fridays at my friend Tommy’s and try to do a rasengan (from Naruto) or kamehameha (from DragonBall).  

Point is, as early as 10 or 11 or 12 years of age, children already aspired to be their role models. These characters were strong, determined and firm with their ideals. I got scared to even try emulating these amazing people.

Children my age – kids who were popular, talented and were already “ahead of their time” – like the same characters I do. In the face of “choosing” an identity, I’d lose out of their fame and conviction. Do I deserve to try and become my idols, when others were so good in mimicking them in the first place?

Personal Identity

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, famous philosophers like Plato, Rene Descartes and John Locke have different interpretations of how a “personal identity” works. However, they do stress common points.

Their ideas generally say that legacies of people – the idea of a person – exists because they have personal identities. These are ways how people persist even when their physical bodies die. The article said Locke, for instance, believes growth itself is a constant cycle of “evolving out” of past identities.

Had 12-year-old me known these, things would have been easier. However, you cannot blame a child for his fear. First impressions counted, and it’s hard to decide on a “way” you want high school to be when you don’t even know how it works. And then one Saturday, it hit me.

Superhero “Logic”

It was at the time I made sure I never missed Saturday mornings because of the X-Men animated series. The 76-episode series tackled Jubilation Lee (Jubilee, that “sparkly” girl) and her adventures with the X-Men.

My mind struggled with my first attempt to make a logical argument. If superheroes existed and they weren’t on news, this must be because agencies were already on to them. If I wanted to be part of a superhero team like the X-Men, I had to know if I had powers.

12-years-old is still a relatively young age, and protagonists generally discover their “potential” at 13 or 14 or 15 – at least, that’s how stories go. It took me weeks to convince myself to try something the sheltered me has never done before:

I couldn’t know if I’m a mutant if I never tried.

Magic Me

It was nothing phenomenal, though. It was more on the lines of Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker drawing his Spider-Man suit in the 2002 film. I grabbed that one leather-bound book we made in our Livelihood Education classes and got Tommy into yet another crazy fad.

“Let’s pretend we’re mages,” I told him.

I forgot his response at the time, but I knew it was a positive one. The following summer, we were in his house for the next two months, making up staves and “spells” and playing make-believe. The feeling was surreal, almost like we were in another realm. I completely forgot my objective, and time swept past me as we arrived in an alternate reality.

I had no idea how intoxicating it was, but it was a good form of therapy for my insecure self. Meanwhile, my mind right now wondered if that’s how David Haller felt.

Making Superheroes

Legion is on FOX, a channel under the Fox Networks Group. The show is a brand-defining series for the company as it showed a different angle of the superhero film genre. Inspired by the X-Men character of the same name, the show tackles David Haller and his journey to redefine his reality.

FOX constantly asks the question, “Is it just me?” David Haller (Dan Stevens) is always left to wonder if everything that’s happening – regardless of how crazy things go – are real. The format of the show, that in it reveals things through Haller’s “subjective reality,” asks this constant question.

I lost my spellbooks, sadly, and we didn’t make any fireballs. On a side note, I almost cried on the first day because I didn’t know anyone in the room.

Legion TV Series: Making Sense of It All

Reflecting on it now, I never found out if I had superpowers – but in my own “subjective” reality, I didn’t need to mimic a superhero to get powers. I could be my own superhero, in my own obviously-cheesy way. If I could inspire others to try to “believe” in their abilities, to be like Haller and “embed” the best “superhero” versions of themselves in this reality – then maybe everyone is a superhero.

However, if there was any message the Legion TV series told me, it’s that it doesn’t matter. Believing it will make it real – and in the face of that reality, does any challenge matter?

Tune in to Legion on FOX, Channel 50 on Sky Cable SD, 173 on HD and Channel 233 on  Cignal HD, beginning 9 February at 8 every Thursday. Fans can go to the Project Legion website to know more about the show.

Rhenn Taguiam

Rhenn Taguiam is a frustrated journalist with a knack for comic books and video games. He likes pizza and pasta, and has an uncontrollable urge to gush over anything Super Sentai, Star Trek or X-Men. He is currently on his way to get his Master's Degree - unless he creates his own video game or graphic novel first.

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