What The MCU Can Learn From Fox’s X-Men TV Show With The Highest Rotten Tomatoes Score

Summary

  • Fox’s X-Men franchise set a high bar for Marvel with the top-rated X-Men ’97 show on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Breaking genre norms with Deadpool and Logan brought success, a tactic the MCU should consider.
  • Legion’s unique character and storytelling triumphed, suggesting obscure characters can thrive in the MCU.



Fox’s X-Men franchise has had many highs and lows, but its highest rated TV show on Rotten Tomatoes is something that the MCU could learn from. While X-Men ’97, which is Marvel’s first official X-Men release separate from Fox, has earned its place as the best-rated Marvel release (so far), it is not part of the MCU. This means the door is open for an MCU-specific show to continue Marvel’s streaming success and leave poorly-received shows like Secret Invasion in its wake. This is where Marvel could stand to learn a couple of things from Fox.

Pushing the boundaries of the superhero genre tends to yield positive results for studios. Fox is responsible for some genre-bending releases that have gained acclaim, with Deadpool and Logan‘s R-rated takes on the genre being among the best superhero movies ever made. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also garnered praise for its horror elements, and Werewolf By Night was lauded for spicing things up with its visual style and Gothic tones. Soon, the MCU will have its own chance to capitalize on Deadpool’s R-rated nonconformity with July’s Deadpool & Wolverine, but the studio needn’t stop there.


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Legion’s Unique Premise & Writing Made It One Of Marvel’s Most Well-Received TV Shows

Legion Ran For 3 Seasons From 2017 – 2019

Legion

Cast
Dan Stevens , Rachel Keller , Aubrey Plaza , Bill Irwin , Jeremie Harris , Amber Midthunder , Katie Aselton , Jean Smart , Navid Negahban , Jemaine Clement

Release Date
February 8, 2017

Seasons
3

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu

While David Haller is the protagonist of
Legion
, he is far from a superhero – which is a premise that already flies in the face of typical superhero genre tropes.


Legion was adapted from a particularly unique Marvel character: Charles’ Xavier’s son, David Haller. In the comics, David Haller is a dangerously complex character often positioned as a villain whose dissociative identity disorder manifests as thousands of personalities, each with their own mutant superpower. While David Haller is the protagonist of Legion, he is far from a superhero – which is a premise that already flies in the face of typical superhero genre tropes. Instead, he is the victim of his own mind (and exceptionally powerful besides) and even more nefarious actors who exacerbate the danger he poses.

The show’s creator, Noah Hawley, seized the opportunity to delve into Legion with relish by leaning into the underutilized trope of the “unreliable narrator. This meant having the audience doubt what is seen on screen as much as Haller himself, who has schizophrenia in the show. It also opened up a plethora of opportunities to depict some of the most mind-bending and memorable sequences seen in a comic book adaptation, evoking the style of David Lynch in a way that makes Legion stand out.


Legion’s Rotten Tomatoes Score Further Proves Using More Obscure Characters Is Good For The MCU

Legion’s Rotten Tomatoes Score Is 91%

David Haller swathed in purple energy with arms outstretched in Legion

MCU Movie

Critics Consensus Score

Audience Score

Black Panther

96%

79%

Avengers: Endgame

94%

90%

Iron Man

94%

91%

Thor: Ragnarok

93%

87%

Spider-Man: No Way Home

93%

98%

Spider-Man: Homecoming

92%

87%

Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

92%

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

91%

98%

Captain America: Civil War

91%

89%

The Avengers

91%

91%


Another precedent that some of the most beloved superhero movies have set is that adapting lesser-known characters can yield fantastic results. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy is perhaps the biggest evidence of this, with all three movies earning some of the best reviews in the entire MCU. Yet one of Marvel’s most recognizable heroes, the Hulk, has struggled to garner as much praise for decades. It is also worth remembering that Iron Man didn’t always carry the same star power that he does today. Before his MCU debut in Iron Man, he was a relatively obscure Marvel hero.

It also shows that ensuring a production is of great quality, first and foremost, can lead to the same financial success that more famous characters tend to achieve. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 both grossed more for the MCU than the first movie, which established the once-obscure characters. Moon Knight, meanwhile, is one of the most-watched MCU shows on Disney Plus and stars one of Marvel’s most obscure characters with a mental illness of his own while boasting a Rotten Tomatoes score that is just 5% below Legion at 86%.


Marvel’s Ratings History Shows Legion Would Be Great For The MCU

Marvel TV Show

Critics Consensus

Audience Score

X-Men ’97

98%

92%

Ms. Marvel

98%

80%

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

95%

91%

WandaVision

92%

88%

Marvel’s Daredevil

92%

89%

Hawkeye

92%

88%

Legion

91%

86%

What If…?

91%

80%

Loki

87%

86%

Marvel’s Luke Cage

87%

71%


Legion, along with Logan, was one of the last things that Fox released within the Superhero genre, with the final episode airing in 2019. They were also the two highest-rated X-Men releases from Fox, and for similar reasons. Both dealt with more mature themes than the superhero genre was used to while flipping the standard superhero trope on its head. For Legion, this meant dealing with one of Marvel’s most unique characters with as much nuance as possible, faithfully exploring the mental illness of David Haller while delivering a truly unique take on the genre.

Legion also joins a host of lesser-known characters in the upper echelons of acclaimed Marvel TV shows. Among the top-ten are Daredevil and Luke Cage, which are decidedly gritty interpretations of the eponymous heroes and their stories. Another boon for Legion is that it depicts an X-Men character, specifically the son of Charles Xavier. The fact that X-Men ’97, which deals with slightly more mature themes thanks to its subject, is currently the highest-rated show is a good sign for adapting characters from this franchise specifically into the MCU.


Key Release Dates