Easter eggs come in limited supply when we talk about FX and Noah Hawley’s brain-twisting series, Legion. But in this week’s episode, “Chapter 10”, a golden one breached the surface for us to grasp. Near the beginning, while Cary (Bill Irwin) was deconstructing the orb David had been trapped inside of for a year, he stated to his sister-within/mutant counterpart, Kerry, that the orb was “advanced but, but not Shi’ar.” But who are the Shi’ar? Furthermore, why are they important enough to even be mentioned?
The Shi’ar Empire is an expansive collection of alien species and cultures located near both the Kree and Skrull Empires. Specifically, the Shi’ar race has a rather humanoid complexion, descending from a sort of bird-like creature. They have popped up in the X-Men comics numerous times, primarily during the Dark Phoenix Saga. That leads me to the next question: How does that tiny piece of dialogue from Cary stretch further than just Legion?
The Shi’ar first appeared in X-Men, #97 in 1997 and were created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. But they made their mark during the Dark Phoenix Saga when Jean Grey assumed full control of the Phoenix Force. The storyline grounded itself in Uncanny X-Men (#101-108, #129-138). Those first issues listed were where Jean first began to harness these powers and repair the M’Kaan Crystal (also known as the Phoenix Saga). In the second list of issues, Jean became overwhelmed by the Phoenix Force, eventually leading to her downfall.
During the time of issues #101-108 in Uncanny X-Men, the corrupt ruler of the Shi-ar Empire, D’Ken Neramani, attempted to steal the M’Kaan Crystal for himself so that he could take over the universe. His younger sister, Lilandra, joined forces with the X-Men in order to stop her brother from implementing his sinister plan. After Jean Grey unleashed the Phoenix Force to stop D’Ken from unleashing the full power of the crystal, she and Professor Charles Xavier fell in love back on Earth.
FX’s rendition of the story behind Professor Xavier’s son, David Haller, has managed to, for the most part, avoid any contact with the X-Men universe that’s already been established on the big and small screens. The only other easter egg that we were given was back in the first season, in “Chapter 7”, when The Shadow King got a glimpse of the distinctive wheelchair used by Professor X in both the movies and comics, and when the depiction of Xavier defeating his mortal enemy appeared on a chalkboard. In the process, it appeared The Shadow King “discovered” the identity of David’s biological father. I’m sure some part of him already knew, though.
And, of course, being the father of David, Professor X has always had some part in the overarching story behind Legion. Cary hinting at the Shi’ar may have been a subtle usage of foreshadowing by Noah Hawley, the creator of the show, at how exactly Charles Xavier will make his much-anticipated appearance. Could he have been in space with Lilandra, as he was prone to do in the comics (i.e. Lilandra’s adventure with Corsair–Cyclops’ and Havok’s father–and the Starjammers)?
With X-Men: Dark Phoenix coming out on February 19, 2019, it could be that Legion will connect with the movies in a completely unexpected way. Jessica Chastain is rumored to be playing Lilandra in the film, although who she’ll actually portray still remains to be seen. Chastain replied to a user’s question about the mystery, to which she replied, “Hey folks, want a scoop? [I’m] not playing Lilandra.” The comment was then removed and re-posted without Chastain’s big reveal. So, Marvel might be trying to maintain any spoilers from leaking, or they might’ve spoiled it in the process of not trying to spoil it.
Either way, it seems we won’t know who Chastain is portraying until Marvel is set and ready to tell us. Or until a trailer is released. Time will tell. If she was lying on Instagram, and she is Lilandra in Dark Phoenix, would she crossover to television to reprise her role as an older Lilandra in Legion if she were asked to? Cary knowing about the Shi’ar suggested that the whole Dark Phoenix incident had already occurred at that point in time. So it may be a long shot, but one can at least dream of the ultimate crossover.