This year, Logan had introduced a promising new face to 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, while bringing Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) time as mutants to an end. An inspired take on many iconic stories, including Old Man Logan and “M-Day,” the genre-bent movie bid farewell to X-Men leader and Wolverine. On the sweeter side of things, Mr.Howlett’s final bow had signaled the arrival of his young clone “daughter,” Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) a.k.a. X-23.
As one era ends, another begins. Laura became a fan favorite, and Keen’s performance was the highlight of the movie. Not after Logan had turned into a favorite and a box office hit, director, James Mangold had teased that he would love to write a standalone for this young heroine. Mangold had announced that he and X-23 creator, Craig Kyle are currently developing a script for her first standalone.
With a serious dearth of Wolverine on the silver screen a question remains. Should Laura carry on her father’s legacy as she did in the comic books?
Dafne Keen’s portrayal of a tween version of Logan was the movie’s best elements. She had channelled the intensity of X-23, and can easily do so for a leading role. But if Fox plans on casting someone older, Keen may not be able to play the part. She is not even a teenager yet and is not ready for full-depth and brutality that comes with the Wolverine role. Laura may have experienced greater horrors in her short years than many people do in a lifetime, but thrusting the mantle on her seems premature.
X-23 was created for the short-lived X-Men: Evolution animated series (2003). It became an instant standout, and her comic book debut was inevitable. Her first four-color appearance had arrived a year later in the homeless mutant series NYX (2004). The limited run details her time spent homeless in New York. Between her origin and her torch-bearing turn, Laura then went on scores of adventures, found, lost, and then found love again, and explored life as a lone wolf and a member of the X-Men.
Mangold understands the importance of not thrusting Laura (or Keen) into such a prominent position off the bat. While discussing his vision for this spinoff, he had noted an interest in creating a “very honest movie about young people growing up.” If the plan makes through the scripting process, it will allow Laura to uncover truths about herself and her genetic duplicate “father.” Once she has absorbed the full measure of what being X-23 means, she can expand her role into a legacy character.
If Fox makes X-23 into the next Wolverine, it must be a smooth progression. By 2029, when Logan is set, the man who became her reluctant surrogate father is closer in age and tone to Old Man Logan than the classic Wolverine. His days as the powerful X-Men brawler are long behind him although he can throw down with the best of them. The plot gave Laura a powerful window into his past. Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez), the nurse who connects Laura and Logan recognizes him from the comics. Whether embellished or not, they are a great place for X-23 to research the character.
Once she understands herself and Wolverine better, she might be inspired to become a superhero. Laura may choose to follow in his footsteps and restart the X-Men, with her mutant cohorts like Richter, Joey, and Bobby. For Laura to inhabit his title, she needs to discover his history organically and choose to honor his legacy of her volition. For X-23’s first stand-alone feature, Mangold, Kyle, and Fox have a many possible routes to choose. At present, they are in an ideal position to pass on the Wolverine mantle gracefully. Once X-23 has grown into her claws, discovers a life outside Transigen, and is no longer on the run, the hunted can become the hunter of mutantkind’s foes.
Some fans are deadset against a legacy Wolverine while others are more interested in digging into Laura’s persona. The X-23 spinoff can tackle issues like whether to include elements from the surrounding X-verse or other mutant clone characters from Logan. From a marketing standpoint, it might boil down to whether X-23 has enough clout beyond the comic book world to stand on her own.
Should X-23 become the next Wolverine? Well, maybe the market is not interested in yet another Wolverine movie yet.