Fans may want to see Wolverine return to movies, but the hero’s Marvel Comics history shows why X-23 AKA Laura Kinney is the best new choice.
Now that Disney can use the X-Men in their Marvel movies, fans are waiting in eager anticipation for the mutants to make their way into the MCU. Instead of immediately reintroducing mutants like Wolverine, however, reports indicate the MCU will begin by introducing lesser known mutant heroes before unleashing all-new versions of the big names.
This does not mean, however, that fans need to wait years for an MCU version of Wolverine. Although many audiences would want to see Logan claw his way back to the big screen as soon as possible, it may actually be smarter for the MCU to release a different version of Wolverine first – namely X-23, Logan’s clone-daughter, who should be played by Dafne Keen, the talented actress who first brought her to live action in 2017’s Logan.
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While most audiences are aware of X-23 from Keen’s critically acclaimed performance, the character actually originated in the animated X-Men: Evolution series. A female clone created from the original Wolverine’s DNA, X-23 – or Laura Kinney as she would come to be called – was bred to be the perfect assassin for an organization called the Facility. Like Wolverine, Laura has a powerful healing factor and animal senses, as well as enhanced strength, speed, and reflexes. She also has adamantium claws, although in her case, she has two claws in each of her arms and a pair of foot spikes that come out of her feet.
Laura would eventually be introduced in Marvel Comics and be reunited with her “father” Logan. Despite her violent upbringing, Laura still had a great deal of humanity and was able to form friendships and close relationships with others over time. Like her father, however, her violent conditioning could re-emerge, particularly when her handlers exposed her to a “trigger scent” that made her go into a berserker fury and kill anything in sight.
Although introduced as a teenager, Laura was allowed to age over time and grew into a young woman who ended up becoming a guardian for her sister-clone Gabby. When Logan died following the “Death of Wolverine” story arc, Laura wound up taking on his name and costume as the “All-New Wolverine.” Even after Logan returned to reclaim the Wolverine mantle, Laura still considers herself Wolverine, and Logan agrees.
Laura’s story was somewhat altered in the movie Logan, as Dafne Keen – then 11-years-old – initially portrayed Laura as a mute child given to volatile rages and violent mood swings. Eventually she reveals she can speak and bonds with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, but their tense relationship is cut tragically short when Logan dies at the hands of another Wolverine clone, leaving Laura to bury the father she barely knew.
So, why should Laura Kinney be the MCU’s first Wolverine, and why should Dafne Keen play her? Well, for one thing, Keen is now fifteen and the perfect age to play Laura as she was originally introduced in the animated series and comics. Since MCU characters are meant to age and evolve over the course of several films, Keen could easily grow into her Wolverine role much like Tom Holland is growing into his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
Moreover, Keen has tremendous appeal among fans who loved her performance in Logan and know what she can bring to the character. And while Hugh Jackman may have announced his retirement from playing Wolverine, Keen has expressed enthusiasm for reprising her character, saying, “Yes definitely. 100 percent.” when ComicBook.com asked if she’d like to return as Laura. Having Keen play Wolverine would also provide a sense of continuity between Fox’s X-Men movies and the MCU films. While Keen wouldn’t necessarily be playing the same Laura that she did in Logan (and would most likely want to take the character in a different direction given her age and additional experience), fans would appreciate the link. J.K. Simmons has recently returned to the Spider-Man films as a new version of J. Jonah Jameson, so the MCU is definitely open to having favorite actors re-interpret their iconic characters.
But there’s another reason why Dafne Keen would be the perfect person to introduce Wolverine into the MCU. From the beginning, the MCU has shown a fondness for legacy characters. Long before Chris Evans was cast as Captain America, early MCU movies were offering hints of Cap’s legacy, starting with the prototype shield glimpsed in the Iron Man movies and General Ross’ Super Soldier experiments in The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk film actually showed Emil Blonsky take a version of the serum and engage in Captain America-type moves against the Hulk, whetting audience appetites for an actual Captain America movie.
Later still, the Ant-Man movies established that many MCU heroes will inevitably pass the torch to a younger generation. Showing how Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym had served as the original Ant-Man alongside Michelle Pfeiffer’s Wasp back in the 1980s offered a rich sense of history for Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) when he ended up taking over as Ant-Man alongside Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily)’s Wasp. This sense of legacy continued as recently as Avengers: Endgame when an elderly Captain America passed his shield on to Sam Wilson/The Falcon, to continue on in his Disney+ series.
And considering that Wolverine has lived a long life which will inevitably be retconned into the history of the MCU, it makes sense that he would already have successors in the present day. Keen’s version of Wolverine could show up in various MCU films, building up a mystery of who she is and what legacy she is continuing. This could serve to keep Wolverine in the public consciousness without having to recast Hugh Jackman right away. Moreover, as the MCU’s new version of Wolverine continues being revealed through rumors and Laura’s murky history, audiences will become more eager for Wolverine to finally reveal himself – and more willing to accept him as a separate entity from Jackman’s iconic performance.
Of course, once Logan does make his appearance, that shouldn’t mean that Laura Kinney should just fade into the background. Both Laura and Logan continue to go by the name Wolverine in the comics, and there’s no reason why the MCU can’t have two characters with the same name. Although, given how powerful Keen’s acting ability is, whoever the new Logan is may have to work pretty hard to earn the name.
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