What story should the proposed X-23 spinoff film tell? There's a wealth of riches in the Marvel comics - here are the best picks.
Logan brought a somber, R-rated, western-like feel to the X-Men film universe, and while it marked the end of the line for Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), it needn't be the end; James Mangold's film introduced the next great hope for mutant-kind, Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) aka X-23. Bolstered by Keen’s performance, the character was catapulted into the mainstream. And, given the film’s box office and critical strength, a solo film for the mutant ingenue was inevitable.
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Recently, James Mangold announced he was working on a spinoff, along with Laura’s co-creator, Craig Kyle (Kyle Yost being the other creator). He revealed they were already tinkering around with concepts for a solo X-23 film, saying they wanted to craft “a very honest film about young people growing up.” Armed with his words and his collaboration with Kyle, we found several comic book sources that could inspire Laura’s standalone.
The “Target X” (2007) miniseries details Laura’s quest for family. In the comic, she tracks down across her aunt, Debbie Kinney, and her cousin Megan in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Debbie’s boyfriend turns out to be an agent of cloners The Facility (Transigen’s comic book analog) and tries to force X-23 to kill her relatives. Thankfully, it doesn't work, but let's just say the story put a new spin on family reunion drama.
Some aspects of the tale are clearly out of the possibility, including S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America, and Daredevil (unless the Fox-Marvel deal goes through), as well as Wolverine himself. Plus, X-23’s surrogate mother, Sarah, hasn’t been introduced – although Laura bears the first name Sarah gave her in the comics – so they'd have to establish her lineage in order for the tale to make sense. Mangold and Kyle could easily mine key plot elements from Laura's tragic origin, including the heart-strings tugging death of her mother, as well as her bittersweet realization that she has a clan. The comic also introduces her brutal handler, Kimura, who would make an excellent ongoing foil for Laura’s continuing adventures.
In this story, a slightly older Laura winds up on the run and in New York City. There, she falls under the thumb of a nasty pimp but also meets some friendly mutant transients. Together, the group bonds over their shared situation (and X-genes) and bands together to thwart Laura's pimp, “Zebra Daddy”, and his goons.
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Clearly, Keen is too young for the grittier, sexualized underpinning of this story, although themes of mutant companionship and teamwork run throughout the narrative. Indeed, Laura is already in the presence of a number of young mutants nomads: her fellow Transigen escapees.
The third volume of her ongoing series, X-23, written by Marjorie Liu is another great place to pull tales from Laura’s universe. During the series, Wolverine is out of commission (possessed by a demon) and X-23 forges an uneasy alliance with his son Daken. She also joins up everyone’s favorite shady cajun with a heart of gold, Gambit.
Most importantly, the story deals with Laura coming to terms with her progenitor’s legacy and weighing the possibilities of replacing him. Although Wolverine’s son doesn’t exist in Fox’s corner of the MCU yet, he’s certainly viable, especially after Days of Future Past rewrote the timeline. An additional hiccup is Gambit: while the Channing Tatum-led film is moving towards production, even if it’s set in a similar present-day timeframe to Deadpool 2 and the New Mutants, his intro is still 10-plus years before X-23 breaks free from Transigen. Of course, Logan, Caliban, and Professor X survived the genocidal cloners' mutant weed-out, so perhaps Remy LeBeau did too.
Her Own Angel
Laura doesn’t have the best of luck. She found romance with a teenaged, time-displaced version of Warren Worthington III, or Angel, in All-New X-Men #30 – just before the Marvel Universe literally collapsed upon itself during Secret Wars. While the two shared a rocky relationship at times, Warren’s tamed some of Laura’s savagery while she showed him a thing or two about grim determination and perseverance (and pain management) as only a Wolverine can.
Related: Why Logan’s Ending Is Perfect
Perhaps not everyone is looking for X-23's mushy angle, but when it comes to growing up, there’s nothing as universal as your first S.O. Mangold already mentioned his interest in filming a realistic coming-of-age Laura pic. What better tale than the bittersweet story of young mutants in love?
Not to stand in their way, though, but Angel/Archangel may have been killed in X-Men: Apocalypse. And, even if he survived, Warren would be in his sixties by 2029. On the other hand, a number of Transigen’s mutant clones bore remarkably strikingly familiar names in Logan. Perhaps a clone Warren was among them. If not, Mangold could also choose another young mutant clone, such as Christopher Bradley (a clone of X-Force's Bolt), to fall head-over-heels for the feral, young woman.
The Sisters of Wolverine
Tom Taylor began one of the most illuminating, heartwarming, and badass storylines in All-New Wolverine #1. He introduced the heirs-apparent to Weapon X in the Wolverine manufacturing biz, Alchemax Genetics. Ms. Kinney made quite the impression on them, and as a result, they pumped out at least ten X-23 clones to do their murderous bidding. Naturally, Laura finds out she has a gaggle of sisters and tries to break them free. While the story is bittersweet, it does provide her with a tough-as-nails occasional sidekick and “kid sister,” Gabby, who could have a long shelf life of her own in Fox's X-Men universe.
Much like “Target X,” the storyline revels in togetherness and family, while also holding a mirror to Laura, exploring who she could have and did become. Her efforts to bail out her “sisters” from an evil corporation is also an uphill battle, one involving a good deal of pain and self-reflection. The story might be a little trickier to adapt, seeing as Transigen’s main peeps bit the dust in Logan. Of course, you just can’t keep those evil cloners down.
Related: Hugh Jackman Supports X-23 Spinoff
Laura Kinney is one of Marvel’s most “original” characters of late. As a clone of Wolverine, she could’ve turned out as a bland knock-off of his gruff and gritty character, but thanks to a strong origin story from Craig Kyle, as well as character building from top writers like Liu and Taylor, she’s become one of the MU’s most engaging heroes. X-23’s debut, with props to the screenwriters and Keen’s intense performance, successfully transferred her to the big screen.
All the building blocks are in place, between numerous gripping four-color tales, the creative talents of James Mangold and Craig Kyle, and Dafne Keen’s impressive skills. Plus, Laura has connections to numerous in-development properties like X-Force and the Gambit movie, allowing her a good deal of in-universe range – even if team-ups may require a bit of time travel fudgery (although Cable can surely help with that). For sure, X-23 could enjoy a long, fruitful run through the superhero movie gauntlet.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020