Why Casting a Young X-23 is a Good Call for Logan
Last week, Fox graced us with the first trailer for the final Wolverine solo film. Logan, as the film is simply called, will be Hugh Jackman’s final turn as the most recognizable member of the X-Men. Since production on Logan began, it has been speculated that the film will combine elements of two comic book storylines: Old Man Logan and The Death of Wolverine. Set to Johnny Cash’s devastating cover of “Hurt”, the new trailer gave us a look at a much grittier, much grimmer Wolverine movie than we’ve seen in the past. It also gave us our first look at a long-rumored character, another victim of mutant experimentation and Wolverine’s clone — X-23 — who is played by newcomer Dafne Keen. X-23’s role in the film was also confirmed by Logan director James Mangold via his Instagram. As a cosplayer who has done a couple different version of X-23, I’m beyond excited to see one of my favorite characters on the big screen.
Who is X-23?
For those unfamiliar with the character, X-23 was first introduced in the animated series, X-Men: Evolution. X-23 was the product of a group hell-bent on replicating the Weapon X program, run by Dr. Martin Sutter and his protege Dr. Zander Rice. After 22 attempts create a male clone, Dr. Sarah Kinney, renowned mutant geneticist hired by Dr. Sutter, realized the cloning would be successful if the clone were female. Thus, X-23 was born. She possessed Wolverine’s healing ability and super senses but instead of three claws that extended from her hands, she has two, with a third in each foot. She was trained as an assassin, a perfect killing machine. Her upbringing caused her to be virtually feral, despite failed attempts by Dr. Kinney to instill some sense of humanity in her. When it’s all said and done and X-23 finally escapes, she inevitably leaves many bodies in her wake, including Dr. Kinney, whose dying words reveal that her name is Laura.
X-23 rose in popularity in the comics, having her own title for a while and most recently, taking over as Wolverine in the All-New Wolverine comic run. However, the X-23 that most comic book fans are familiar with is much older. With hopes of Laura potentially taking over for Logan in future X-Men films, why did the cast a child as X-23? While it seems like a strange call, there are several solid reasons for it.
It’s easier to make Laura Kinney a sympathetic character
Casting a young X-23 instead of an adult version provides a nice contrast to the Wolverine we’ve come to know over the years, while also serving as mirror due to their obvious similarities. She’s just like him, very much like him. It’s easier for the audience to feel sympathy towards a child with a similar tortured past to our main character because she’s young; she can be viewed as innocent, even with her violent tendencies.
For the sake of storytelling, it’s also easier to meet Laura just after her escape, thus bypassing the more dismal parts of her origin story (you know, just in the off-chance they decided to stay true to the source material).
It keeps the focus on Logan
This is Hugh Jackman’s last time suiting up as Wolverine and from the looks of it, it will be his darkest one to date. Introducing an adult Laura Kinney would potentially necessitate at least some kind of origin story and X-23’s pretty depressing.
In the comics, after X-23 escapes from the program that created her, life is pretty bleak. She becomes a prostitute, she barely utters a word and she begins cutting herself. It’s easy to question, with her abilities, how could she end up in such despair? Telling Laura’s story from her escape through her path to redemption with the X-Men could easily its own film, dealing with heavy, complex issues stemming from years of trauma and abuse.
As our farewell to Logan, the focus should remain on his redemption story.
It brings Logan full circle with callbacks to the first X-Men film
It will be just over 16 years since Wolverine’s claws first SNIKT’d across the screen when Logan hits theaters in March 2017. Casting a young X-23 brings back memories of Logan and Rogue in the first X-Men movie. It brings everything full circle. Logan is at his best when he has something and someone to fight for.
While some X-23 fans might be disappointed that Laura’s age combined with the obvious time jump leaves little hope of X-23 taking over as Wolverine in future films, don’t entirely lose hope! We know the X-Men cinematic universe timeline likes to jump, reboot, and become increasingly convoluted so there’s always a chance that we see an adult Laura kicking ass in blue and yellow at a later date!
Starring Hugh Jackman, Stephen Merchant, Boyd Holbrook, Eriq LaSalle and Sienna Novikov and directed by James Mangold, Logan will be released March 3, 2017.
Featured image: X-23 Vol 3 #1, cover art by Danni Shinya Luo