Despite big hits in the form of Deadpool and Days of Future Past, the future of Fox's X-Men movies remains very much up in the air. While the franchise will certainly continue, the form in which it does continues to evolve. Will the "soft-reboot" in the main series continue to re-trace earlier stories with new young actors? Follow entirely new characters in similar circumstances via the New Mutants spin-off? Maybe both? For that matter, what about the newly-proven viability of R-rated side-series like Deadpool and its proposed sequels, or the future-set final Wolverine movie?
Now, a new report suggests that at least one divergent take, X-Force, is closer to happening than once thought - and may take the opportunity to bring Marvel's new female version of Wolverine to the screen.
The time-travelling shenanigans of X-Men: Days of Future Past at least partially solved Fox's problem of continuing the X-Men series despite much of the original main cast either opting or aging out of their roles, giving the versions of characters that longtime fans had grown up with a happy-ending coda while also establishing younger versions who could carry the series forward in their stead without (officially) "rebooting" the all-important continuity. But even that couldn't fully fix the problem of Wolverine: Hugh Jackman has largely indicated that he's reached the endpoint of his tenure with the role that made him a star, but the character's ageless nature (and the likelihood of audiences being unwilling to accept another actor as Logan this soon) makes it difficult to recast.
But according to Fandango, the studio may be preparing to try a radical solution to the situation: Bring in Laura Kinney, aka "X-23", a teenage female clone of Logan who has already replaced him as Wolverine in the current run of Marvel comics - using the X-Force movie as a possible opportunity to introduce the character to movie audiences. Said franchise-helmer Bryan Singer:
"I have discussed that with the studio. I actually initially pitched the X-Force and the female."
"Simon [Kinberg] is in the earliest script stage, so that’s kind of where that stands, and we’ll see how it evolves."
Created by Marvel writer and direct-to-DVD animation producer Craig Kyle, Kinney/X-23 originated in an episode of the animated series X-Men: Evolution before being carried over into the official comics-continuity largely on the strength of fan support for the character. Cloned by the Weapon-X program using a genetic sample from the original Wolverine wherein the Y chromosome was unable to be salvaged, she is effectively Logan's female genetic twin despite being substantially younger and thus possesses identical mutant powers, along with having adamantium-coated claws in her feet in addition to her hands. After having been part of dozens of X-Men storylines for several years, as of November 2015 (following the Marvel Universe-remaking event Secret Wars) she has starred in the comic series "All-New Wolverine" having inherited the now-deceased Logan's codename and a version of his uniform.
Whether or not this new take on Wolverine actually finds her way into X-Force remains to be seen, as does the actual form of the film itself. The original X-Force was created in 1991 by writer/artist Rob Liefeld as a new name/status-quo for the now-older (and more inclined to violence) members of the team formerly known as The New Mutants. With Fox currently planning the New Mutants in their traditional incarnation, it's been heavily implied that the X-Force movie would instead feature a separate stand-alone team in the vein of Deadpool's lower-budget R-rated formula - potentially even featuring Deadpool himself as a member - and based on the later "mutant task-force" take on the team.
X-Men: Apocalypse opens in theaters on May 27, 2016, followed by Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017, and unannounced X-Men films on October 6, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13, 2018 (possibly The New Mutants). X-Force is also in development.