Logan hits theaters this week, and based on the reviews alone, it looks like it maybe the best Wolverine movie yet. It's a little bit heartbreaking, therefore, that it is also going to be Hugh Jackman's final outing as the short-tempered mutant. Yes, after seventeen years in the role, Jackman is hanging up his claws... and possibly passing the torch to a new Wolverine: Laura Kinney, a.k.a. X-23.
X-23 makes her debut appearance on the big screen in Logan, played by Dafne Keen, and is pretty phenomenal in the role (she's even mastered Wolverine's rage-yell). It's also highly likely that the X-Men universe is going to see a lot more of X-23, and that a female-fronted spin-off could soon be in the works for the character. It's a move that could definitely work for the franchise, especially now that Fox seems to have found a successful niche in R-rated superheroes.
Comic fans are already used to the idea of X-23 carrying on the Wolverine legacy, as Laura took up the title and classic costume after Logan died in 2014. Now, it is Laura Kinney who is the titular character in Marvel's All New Wolverine, and she's even dealt with some clones of her own. Although the Logan character isn't completely wiped out, thanks to Old Man Logan doing some universe-jumping to join the primary Marvel characters, it's X-23 who is currently front and center when it comes to the Wolverine name. Even Logan director James Mangold has said that he would like to see X-23 return, although he doesn't specifically mention her as the new Wolverine. The question isn't whether or not we will see more of this fantastic mutant, but where she will fit into the existing films, and how she is going to get there.
Although it seems logical to continue to include X-23 in the X-Men universe, there are definitely some major obstacles in the way of her appearing in alongside the core X-Men in an upcoming ensemble flick. For one thing, X-23 currently exists either in an alternate timeline, or far in the future where the vast majority of mutants are extinct. Meanwhile, the next film in the primary X-Men universe (X-Men: Supernova) will presumably take place in the '90s, following on from the previous movies who have jumped a decade at a time. On the simplest level, these timelines don't match up.
In addition to the more general timeline issue, there is a potential problem with Laura's age. In Logan, X-23 is still very young, presumably the same age as Keen herself (a pre-teen). Although X-Men: Apocalypse did see the core X-Men team appear as teenagers, X-23 should still be significantly younger than Jean Grey and her friends. The complex multi-timeline universe of the X-Men is already quite confusing, especially to casual fans, and the sudden inclusion of a very young X-23 from the future would certainly not be helping this problem. In addition, Kinney's entry into the franchise is so violent that it would feel very strange to have her tone down the violence to match the PG-13 vibe of the main mutant movies.
Deadpool And X-Force
Of course, X-23 wouldn't have to join the part of the X-Men universe that has been building since X-Men: First Class. In a lot of ways, it would make more sense for her to cross over into the timeline created by the hugely successful Deadpool. This particular corner of the X-Men universe appears to take place in the present day (or thereabouts), is already R-rated, and is slowly building toward an X-Force movie, all of which make it a much better fit for X-23.
Having X-23 reappear in Deadpool 3 as a member of the X-Force team makes far more sense than trying to slot her into the mainstream universe. X-23 has been in X-Force in the comics, and her brutally violent style is a perfect fit for this corner of the franchise. This would also allow Keen to grow up a little before truly becoming the new Wolverine, as Deadpool 3 is still several years away (with Deadpool 2 coming out in 2018). However, this is still not a perfect solution to the problem of how to integrate the character into other films. A gap of several years without the character doesn't explain how she moved back in time, or what she has been doing between the events of Logan and Deadpool 3 - which are some pretty big questions to leave unanswered, or try and squeeze into a packed ensemble film.
The Spin-Off Solution
The ideal solution for the character would be a spin-off - a solo movie to bridge the yawning chasm between Logan and X-Force, and keep X-23 in the public eye in the meantime. An X-23 solo movie could wrap up any lingering questions left at the end of Logan, and take advantage of Keen's youth to bring to life some of the fan-favorite X-23 story arcs that deal with her life before she grows into her superpowers and becomes a full fledged X-Men member. A full feature would also have plenty of time to send X-23 on an adventure that would end with her crossing into the past, neatly explaining her appearance in the X-Force timeline.
In addition to a solo X-23 movie giving Keen a bridge between Logan's timeline and Deadpool's, a female-fronted solo movie would be a fantastic move for Fox. Although DC is releasing Wonder Woman later this year, female-fronted comic book movies are still a rarity, and announcing an X-23 movie would garner a lot of positive attention for the franchise. Deadpool and Logan have done a lot to pull Fox's X-Men out of the doldrums, and keeping it R-rated and female-fronted would be a phenomenal way to continue this winning streak.
The Future For X-23
We don't yet know what the future holds for X-23, and it is even possible that this character won't be reappearing in the X-Men universe at all. There are, after all, an absolutely huge number of mutants for Fox to choose from for future films, and some may even argue that it is better to have one phenomenal X-23 appearance than a series of potentially mediocre follow-ups. It may not be practical to find a way to move X-23 back in time to join one of the other X-Men timelines, or it may simply not be a direction that Fox wishes to pursue.
However, we highly doubt that Fox would introduce such an incredible character in a movie as highly-praised as Logan, and then simply let her languish in the X-Men vaults. It's far more likely that X-23 will be making a return to our screens in the near future, and we're hoping that a spin-off is the way they do it.
Would you like to see an X-23 spin-off movie? Comment and let us know!
- Logan (2017) release date: Mar 03, 2017
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018