When Legion first came out last spring there was a great deal of speculation about whether David Haller’s parentage would be true to the comics. This was largely because of his father, the powerful telepath and X-Men founder Charles Xavier. And sure enough, after some misdirection, both scenes from the final episode and confirmation from the Legion crew confirmed the familial connection and even hinted at the possibility of Sir Patrick Stewart reprising the role for television.
David’s mother, however, has so far remained a mystery. Though the character, Gabrielle Haller, is well established in the comics there is no guarantee that this will carry over into the show or cinematic universe for a variety of reasons. Here’s what you need to know about Gabrielle and the two other characters most likely to be David’s biological mother.
As previously mentioned, Gabrielle Haller is David’s mother in the comics. A Holocaust survivor, she met and fell in love with Xavier in Israel at the same time he first encountered and befriended Magneto. After he left and she realized she was pregnant she never reached out to him again, instead raising David by herself until his powers activated and his mental health began deteriorating.
The show seems to have already widely deviated from this story, having David be raised from infancy by adopted American parents alongside a sister, Amy. While Gabrielle could still make an appearance as his bio mother, some complications remain. Her history as a survivor calls for a great deal of delicacy and respect in any adaption of her character, something the Legion team might rather avoid altogether in favor of a previously established character.
If Legion goes the route of using a previously established character, Moira MacTaggert is the most likely choice. In First Class she was the tentative love interest of Xavier throughout the film, and while at the end he erased most of the memories she had of their time together the exact nature of their romantic relationship is discreetly left to the viewer’s imaginations. The timeline of both the show and the cinematic universe is tentative enough that Moira could have possibly been pregnant with David shortly after the events of First Class. While Legion points to Xavier’s knowledge of the infant and role in placing him up for adoption, there’s still a chance that he could have reconnected with Moira or found out about the baby through other channels.
Additionally, there’s preexisting precedent for Moira being David’s mother. In the comics she developed an extremely close, mother-like relationship with him after Gabrielle brought him to her lab for treatment. In Ultimate X-Men (an alternate universe in the comics) Moira is also the biological mother of Xavier’s child, an almagation between David and Moira’s own powerful mutant son Proteus that she had with her ex-husband.
David’s final possible mother is something of a long shot but could ultimately connect to the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie: The Empress of the galactic Shi’ar Empire and one-time consort of Xavier, Lilandra Nermani. The Shi’ar have an important role in the original Dark Phoenix storyline and have a heavily rumored cameo in the film adaption. Originally actress Jessica Chastain seemed to be cast as Lilandra, though sources recently denied this. And perhaps more importantly last week’s episode of Legion name-dropped the Shi’ar as an existing presence in their universe.
Lilandra is also one of Xavier’s greatest loves throughout the comics. While they only have children on alternate universes, not the main comics, it’s entirely possible that this could be changed up for the show. And though this would make David half alien this could have something to do with the fascination the Shadow King has for him and the magnitude of his mutant abilities.
The identity of David’s mother may never truly be explained in Legion. Mothers in media notoriously take a back seat to the father’s identity, and with such a prestigious parent who could blame the showrunners for focusing solely on Xavier? In the meantime, we can speculate on who she may be and how she could be a tie to the greater X-men universe.