All good things come to an end, and, unfortunately, in a few months Hugh Jackman will tuck away the Adamantium-laced bones of Wolverine and walk into the superhero sunset following the release of Logan.
The anticipation is bitter-sweet. Jackman has been Wolverine for 17 years, initially appearing in X-Men at the turn of the millennium. After close to two decades in the spotlight — a lifetime by superhero standards — it's hard to separate the actor from the role of mutton-chopped mutant.
However, the inclusion of Laura Kinney in #Logan (played by Dafne Keen) has wedged open the door of possibility. In the comics, Kinney is also known as #X23, a powerful mutant clone genetically engineered from the damaged DNA of Logan himself. Laura's inclusion is significant; in Marvel Comics, she is the current Wolverine, having taken over from Logan following his death.
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Will X-23 Take Over As Wolverine After 'Logan'?
In an interview with Fandango, Logan director James Mangold was asked whether he is planning on following the same narrative in the cinematic #XMen universe. He responded:
"I always feel like I’m making a one-off movie every time. My feeling is that if you can make a good film, it’s naturally going to lend itself to people wanting to see sequels because it’s good and the characters are rich.
"I really wasn’t thinking about [passing the torch] – and I know the studio wasn’t because they didn’t even know who X-23 was when I brought it up."
Mangold then explained that the focus of Logan was on the interpersonal relationships, including the dynamic between Logan and an ageing #CharlesXavier, but more importantly his relationship with the newcomer, X-23. He added:
"In the case of Logan and Laura, a father-daughter relationship, with a father who’s very loathed to have intimacy or an emotional connection with almost anyone. There’s a lot of drama and a lot of interpersonal drama that truly drives the feature."
In essence, Mangold's response is both yes and no: If Logan does well, and X-23 is a standout character, they've created the opportunity to take things forward. If it doesn't do as well as expected, X-23 has fulfilled her role as an integral part of the plot for the standalone film, providing #Wolverine with the post-apocalyptic paternal motivation to fight in an attempt to protect her against Transigen.
If the former does work out (judging from the second official Logan trailer above, it seems likely) and X-23 is a success, will Fox push ahead with the new direction for Wolverine? In the manner of Mangold, the answer is... yes. And no.
Why Fox Won't Replace Logan With Laura
As much as it would be interesting to see, it's unlikely that Fox will go full-steam ahead, and continue a franchise with X-23 taking over as Wolverine. As Mangold points out, the studio surprisingly hadn't even heard of the character before he brought her to their attention.
While you wouldn't expect them to have ultra-geek level knowledge (on a property they've owned for decades, no less), it is a little disconcerting that a studio who have spent a total of $1.26 billion on an X-Men franchise didn't know #Marvel's current Wolverine.
It also illustrates that there are plenty of people who enjoy the X-Men film series, who don't necessarily have knowledge of the comics. With that being the case, it may be a tough sell for #Fox to rebrand one of their most illustrious properties so drastically, transitioning from 48-year-old Hollywood A-lister Hugh Jackman to 11-year-old previously unknown Dafne Keen.
Keen's age would need to be considered, too. Wolverine is one of the biggest names in the superhero realm, and the leading role would put a huge amount of pressure on a young girl just starting out in her career, leaving the option of portraying an older X-23 being portrayed by another actress. But this again opens the confusing, time-travelling can of worms, considering Logan is set in 2029.
The most likely scenario is that Fox decide to add X-23 to the franchise in the form of occasional cameos in the X-Verse, with X-23 unlikely to ever become the successor to Wolverine, instead taking on her own role. The gradual introduction of the X-Force, including Cable's debut in #Deadpool2, could pave the way for X-23 to join the dark underbelly of Fox's superhero universe.
Would you like to see Laura Kinney take over from Logan?