Everyone knows about Logan, the Wolverine. With his adamantium claws, bad temper, and crazy healing factor, Logan is easily the world’s favorite member of the X-Men. But these days, there’s a new Wolverine in town. Thanks to the critically acclaimed release of this year’s Logan, she’s now beginning to carve out her place within the public sphere. Meet Laura Kinney, Wolverine’s daughter, formerly known as X-23.
Played to perfection by the young Dafne Keen in Logan, Laura has already broken away as one of the biggest standout characters, which is no easy feat. In a dark, heartbreaking movie that examines the nature of disappointment, while aiming a microscope on the deep father/son relationship between Logan and Charles Xavier, X-23 still manages to be the character that everyone is talking about. In the film, Laura’s presence shines a dim light of hope for the future, even while she’s busy tearing up her enemies with metal claws. It’s no surprise that people are already talking about spin-offs, though for now, that’s all just speculation.
But who is Laura, and where did she come from? Here, we’ll trace the defining moments in Laura’s path to the big screen, from the beginning until today, all of which made her the increasingly popular character she’s become. Here are Laura Kinney’s Most Iconic Moments.
— SPOILERS for Logan lie ahead. —
15. When She First Appeared on TV
Not every major comic character got their start in comics. From Harley Quinn to John Diggle, there’s a long legacy of characters who were actually introduced in TV and movie adaptations before growing so popular that the comics brought them in. X-23 is one of these figures, since her first appearance came in the animated series X-Men: Evolution.
Evolution was a series that began in a more lighthearted vein, but grew darker as it progressed. However, the episode that introduced X-23 was easily one of the cartoon’s most mature moments. It presented the character as an abused and battered female clone of Logan that has broken free in a desire to track down her progenitor and kill him herself, only to instead find in him the father figure that she so desperately needs. X-23 only appeared a few times, but the show’s final episode showed Charles Xavier experiencing a precognitive vision of her joining the X-Men in the future, thus foreshadowing the path she would eventually take in the comics.
14. When She Got her Adamantium Claws
When Laura was brought into the comics, her already twisted origin story became even more traumatic. Because X-23 was created to be a new Weapon X, the adamantium claws were always planned to be a part of Laura since her conception — which is even creepier than the original Weapon X project, especially when one considers that Laura’s metal-bonding procedure was forced upon her when she was just a little girl. Even worse, this happened after her “creator,” Dr. Zander Rice, activated her healing factor by subjecting her to gruesome radiation poisoning.
But unlike Wolverine, whose entire skeleton is laced with the indestructible metal — which, in both Logan and in recent comics, has been shown to be poisoning his bloodstream at all times — X-23 only received the adamantium procedure on her claws. Not that it was any less painful, because Dr. Rice purposely didn’t give her any form of anesthetic during the procedure. He surgically extracted each bone claw from her body, one-by-one, coated them in metal, and reinserted them. This callous brutality was performed as an act of vengeance for the death of his father, a scientist assigned to the original Weapon X project who was torn apart by an escaping Wolverine.
13. When She Suffered a Terrible Childhood
From the beginning of her life onward, Laura was subjected to constant torture from Zander Rice. Dr. Rice despised his creation, hated that she was female, and didn’t want her to be raised as a human being; she was a weapon, an experiment, a patent. But he had to wait for years before Laura’s powers would develop, enabling her to become the weapon she was destined to be, and in that time, he assigned her birth mother, Sarah Kinney, to raise her. In the comics, Sarah served the same sort of role that Gabriela does in the film Logan, caring deeply for Laura as she grows up in the Weapon X facility. As a child, Laura is mostly mute, and develops a habit of cutting herself with her claws, as was also seen in the film.
After surgically implanting Laura’s adamantium, Dr. Rice also creates a chemical compound he refers to as a “trigger scent,” specifically tailored toward Laura’s enhanced senses. When exposed to this scent, Laura loses all self-control and enters a violent berserker rage, killing anything in her path. At this point, Laura is finally viable as a living weapon, and she’s used for multiple assassination missions. The combination of such a clinical, sterile childhood with being brainwashed into a killing machine leaves her emotionally stunted and socially awkward.
However, Rice pays dearly for his actions. As he is trying to sell a future collection of Wolverine clones, X-24 through X-50, Laura and Sarah Kinney begin to make their escape. Before Zander gets the chance to complete his deal, Laura kills him and destroys the entire facility. Unfortunately, Dr. Rice is able to make one final posthumous attack on Laura: before his death, he sprays the trigger scent in Sarah’s hair, forcing Laura to kill her own mother.
12. When She Killed Her Pimp
Laura still had a long road ahead of her before she found any level of acceptance, family, or peace. When Laura was first introduced in the comics, it was in the comic NYX, and she was in a very dark place.
After escaping from Weapon X, Laura is still just a teenage girl. The horrific experiences she’s undergone at such a young age have left her fragile, traumatized, and unsure of who or what she is. Still mostly mute and unsure of how to operate in the world, since she’s never been anything but a trained assassin, she ends up on the streets of New York City, where she is taken in and exploited by a pimp named Zebra Daddy. The pimp sets her up as one of his prostitutes, specifically for masochistic clients who want to be cut with her claws, and Laura lives a solitary, meaningless existence working for him. Eventually, Laura finally begins to make friends with other mutants, realizes that she’s worth more, and she ditches Zebra Daddy.
Zebra Daddy isn’t happy about her running away, though. The pimp gathers a gang of thugs to track her down, whereupon he attacks her and her friends. Of course, he’s in way over his head, and Laura doesn’t take well to her friends being threatened, so she makes quick work of him with her claws.
11. When She Joined the X-Men
After this, Laura finally decides to seek out her father. Together with Logan, she finds a new home at Xavier’s school, even becoming one of the X-Men. She shares a room with Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers, and is deeply protective of Wolverine, attacking anyone — even teammates — that she perceives as hurting him.
Laura has had many adventures with the X-Men and X-Force since then, but one of her most defining exploits comes when she first joins up with the “time-displaced” original five X-Men. These mutant heroes are teenage versions of Cyclops, Jean, Angel, Beast, and Iceman, who have all been brought to the world of today by the contemporary Beast. After being captured and brainwashed by the anti-mutant hate group the Purifiers, lead by William Stryker Jr., Laura is rescued when the teenage Jean restores her memories. Laura then leads the charge against the Purifiers, joining their team of all-new X-Men.
10. When She Cut Off Her Own Hand
Wolverine is well known for his miraculous healing abilities, and if not for those powers, he never would have walked away from some pretty insane injuries. But Logan’s not the only one who can heal fast, and his daughter has faced some brutal wounds of her own, sometimes ones that were self-inflicted.
Back in her Weapon X days, X-23’s handler was the indestructible Kimura, who regularly mocked and abused her. After Laura’s escape from that inhuman facility, Kimura dedicated herself to tracking Laura down and killing anyone she cared about — essentially becoming Laura’s Sabretooth. On one occasion, Kimura manipulated Laura’s trigger scent to try to get her to kill her own aunt and cousin. Kimura handcuffed herself to Laura, and was moments away from murdering Laura’s cousin in front of her, but the former X-23 quickly cut off her own hand, freeing herself. She then fastened Kimura to a pipe, saved her family, and blew up the house with Kimura in it.
Not surprisingly, her hand grew back. That’s what healing factors are for, after all. However, this wouldn’t be the last time she had to deal with severed limbs and trigger scent complications.
9. When She Used Sprinklers to Set Off Her Trigger Scent… on Purpose
What should be apparent by now is that if there is one terrible thing that Laura has struggled to live with — other than her past, her utilization as a weapon, and the constant abuses she’s suffered — it’s the trigger scent. There are few things that have caused Laura more suffering, and nothing she’s tried to avoid more.
Except for that one time where, well… she set it off on purpose.
In this instance, she was kidnapped, brought back to the Weapon X facility, and then thrown into a room containing large tanks filled with the very feared chemical compound that sets off her berserker rage. Trapped, desperate, and cornered by hundreds of armed guards, Laura makes a big move: she sets off the sprinkler system with a Molotov cocktail, letting the trigger scent chemicals rain down upon her, knowing full well that doing this will drive her crazy enough to easily cut and slice her way to an escape. Sure enough, Laura slashes her way out, painting the facility with the blood of anyone who gets in her way.
8. When She was Turned into Captain Universe
As far as comic book superheroes go, Laura is fairly grounded. But even she has had the chance to dip into Marvel’s more cosmic side when she briefly became the chosen vessel of the Uni-Power.
To briefly explain, the Uni-Power is a sentient force, an embodiment of the universe’s positive energy. On rare occasions, the Uni-Power will bond to people who are in terrible danger, and transform a person into a superheroic being known as Captain Universe, possessing incredible power. Captain Universe only exists until the danger is defeated, at which point it will move to a new host. If a person tries to use the Uni-Power for selfish ends, it will immediately un-bond from them. This means that to be chosen by the Uni-Power is an enormous testament of a person’s genuineness, heroism, and virtuousness. Though it has normally only bonded with regular humans, the Uni-Power has also bonded with a dog, a toddler, and even a few superheroes, such as Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.
So needless to say, the fact that the Uni-Power chose to bond with Laura Kinney is an enormous compliment, truly demonstrating how much she has worked to overcome her violent beginnings. Laura became Captain Universe during a time when the terrorist organization A.I.M. was attempting to exploit the Uni-Power for nefarious ends, and together, she and this eternal force are able to stop them.
7. When She Finally Became the Wolverine
Laura never had a father when she was young, and so when she finally found Logan, she bonded deeply to him. But in recent years, the ageless clawed warrior has finally met his end. After the failure of his healing factor, and a final heroic action to prevent others from suffering the same experimental fate he did, Logan has died. When news of his demise reaches Laura, she’s deeply upset, riddled with self-doubt, and unsure of what the meaning of her life can be now that the man whom she looked up to is gone. She leaves the X-Men, dying her hair blue and gold as a tribute to her father.
But later on, this death gives Laura new purpose. Donning a costume much like the one worn by Logan, Laura Kinney officially takes on the role of the Wolverine in honor of the man who inspired her. Since this time, the new Wolverine has earned the respect and accolades of those who knew the old Wolverine the best, and Laura has fought hard not only to live up to her father’s legacy, but also not to stumble into the same pitfalls that often held him back from ever truly having a happy life.
6. When She Overcame Her Trigger Scent
One of these pitfalls that Logan often stumbled into, of course, was his uncontrollable rage. Logan was constantly repressing the violent urges inside himself, and often was exploited by sinister forces for his potential as a weapon. Since Laura was born to be a weapon, she too has suffered from the bloody consequences of her inner rage, as well as the guilt and the terrible fear of knowing that any villain could use her trigger scent to make her kill others, even those she loves.
However, while Logan suffered from the animalistic urges inside him until the day he died, Laura has recently made huge strides in overcoming them. Foremost among these is that, thanks to the efforts of her X-Men friends, she has overcome the influence of the trigger scent.
Laura’s “cousin” Gabby — another, younger Wolverine clone — as well as Gambit, her boyfriend Angel, and the time-displaced Jean Grey, all come together to help her. Gabby stays with Laura, since she can heal from any wounds that Laura deals to her, and Jean enters Laura’s mind to find that the trigger scent causes Laura to hide in the memory of one of the few good times from her childhood, a day where Sarah Kinney read Pinocchio to her. Together, Gabby and Jean bring Laura out of hiding, and finally free her from the trigger scent’s toxic effect.
5. When She Jumped Down a Dragon’s Throat to Save Logan
No, that’s not some sort of weird metaphorical. And by dragon, we mean Fin Fang Foom, a giant extraterrestrial dragon that is certainly one of the wackiest named classic Marvel characters of all time, a creature big enough to easily smack down any Sentinel.
Big as this dragon might be, he’s still no match for the Wolverine. In this story, Laura teams up with “Old Man” Logan — another time-displaced character, but this one is a version of Logan from an alternate future — and since the Logan she knew was dead by this point, the relationship between Laura and him is understandably odd. But he’s still a version of her father, so when Fin Fang Foom gulps Old Man Logan down, Laura doesn’t take well to it. She leaps right into the dragon’s mouth, plunges down his throat, rescues Old Man Logan, and then cuts and hacks her way out. Probably not the lightest or healthiest meal that this dragon has eaten, to put it lightly. But the terrific imagery of Wolverine literally leaping down a monster’s throat to save her dad — albeit, a weird alternate universe version of her dad — is pretty cool.
But now, while these moments so far have mostly been from the comics, the arrival of Logan has finally brought Laura to the mainstream… where in just one movie, she’s already made some pretty exciting cuts.
4. Logan: The Moment Where the Claws First Came Out
Laura is introduced early on in Logan, and initially, there’s a great deal of mystery about who or what she is. Why are these Reaver guys (and this shady corporation) tracking her down? It’s unclear, and Logan himself doesn’t want to be involved with it, but when Laura stows away in the trunk of his car, her captors track her down. Dozens of cars filled with heavily-armed soldiers arrive at Logan and Charles’s sanctuary, guns pointed, all ready to start their guns blazing at what, up until this point, seems to be nothing more than a quiet little girl.
It’s confusing. Disorienting. A handful of mercenaries go into the building, Laura watches them as she eats cereal… then, from outside, we hear gunshots. Laura emerges, and she’s carrying a mercenary’s severed head. And finally, as she walks forward — steely-eyed, dead-set, not wavering for a second — her claws slide out, a battle cry emerges from her lips, and she begins slicing up all of the men trying to capture her.
There’s really no way to overemphasize just how awesome this scene really is. This one moment instantly transformed Laura into a fan-favorite character amidst the general public, one who is going to be remembered for a long time to come. Though Logan is still fresh and new, we’re willing to bet that someday, years down the line, this scene will be seen as one of the most iconic in the entire X-Men franchise.
3. Logan: That Awkward Encounter in the Convenience Store
Now, Logan is filled with fantastic X-23 moments, and it’s hard to pick the best ones out. But one of the most notable sequences takes place soon after Laura’s killing rampage in the Mexican desert. After she, Logan, and Charles escape through the clever use of a speeding train, they make a pit stop at a convenience store. As the two older men watch cell phone footage depicting Laura’s origins, the girl herself rides a tiny, vintage, coin-operated bouncy horse. The immediate contrast between the killer we saw before and the innocent little girl we see just a few minutes afterward is perfectly sold.
Right after that, Laura goes into the convenience store and begins stealing snacks. This sort of action is right in line with the comic book version, who has done things like steal her high school principal’s car. But Laura stealing from the store isn’t a rebellious action. Rather, it’s simply that since she’s grown up in a white-walled box her whole life, never even seeing the sun before she escaped, she doesn’t understand the problem with simply taking things that she wants. When the cashier tries to take the items away from her, she snarls and unsheathes her claws again — but luckily, Logan barges in right in time to prevent her from making a mess of the place…and the cashier.
2. Logan: Taking Her Father’s Hand
Charles Xavier’s death is heartbreaking for too many reasons to count. The founder of the X-Men has been such an important figure for so many, his actions saving countless lives, and helping countless more. To watch him die that way, full of regret, is just as painful for the audience as it is for Logan himself.
This event crushes whatever hope was left in Logan, and it shows. He buries his father figure in an unmarked grave, stands over it, and attempts to offer a eulogy — not the sort of thing he’s ever been good at, but the amount of respect he has for Charles is so enormous, he wants to try. But he can’t get any words out, other than the meager mention that there is water nearby, only reminding him further of their now-destroyed dream to take a boat called the Sunseeker out into the ocean together, leaving society behind. Sure enough, he starts tearing up.
Then, Laura walks over and holds his hand. Though he rejects her a few moments later, since he’s so angry about Charles’s death, what’s significant here is the way that Laura, though so similar to Logan, is the movie’s figure of hope. Though she also suffered the same sorts of experiments he did, and at a much younger age, she shows an ability to reach out to others emotionally, much more than he was ever able to. She looks to cling onto loved ones, instead of running away from them.
1. Logan: The Ending
In the final moments of Logan, after Wolverine has saved the mutant children, his healing factor is at its all-time weakest point. The emergence of his younger, soulless clone, X-24, is finally too much for him to fight against. The clone impales him, and is battering him into a painful, gruesome death — when suddenly, he is saved by his daughter, who uses a gun armed with Logan’s own adamantium bullet to blow a hole right through X-24’s adamantium skull.
However, it’s too late for Logan, and he knows it. As they hold hands again, he tells his daughter “Don’t become what they made you.” As she cries, calling him Daddy for the first time, he smiles at her, his final words being “Oh… so this is what it feels like,” a quote that is likely in reference to an earlier statement made by Charles, about the importance of having family.
The kids bury Wolverine, standing around his grave with tear-filled eyes, one of them clutching a Wolverine action figure. Laura is the one to give the eulogy, the parting words for not just the man who saved them, but the man whose stories have inspired them their whole lives. She quotes Shane, the film that she and Charles had watched earlier. But as if this scene didn’t already have enough audience members getting teary-eyed, Logan has one more surprise waterworks moment in store for the audience: as the kids all file away, Laura kneels at her father’s grave, takes the handmade cross that they’d placed over the statue, and turns it on its side — into an X.
R.I.P., Logan. And long live the new Wolverine.
What other terrific X-23 moments did we miss? How would you like to see her character return to the big screen? Let us know in the comments!