Logan and X-23: where next for Laura on the big screen?
Dafne Keen was the breakout star of Logan, but where could Laura go next? Some thoughts...
This article contains Logan spoilers, lots of them.
It seems fair to say that Dafne Keen blew the bloody doors off of Logan, making a huge impression in her first performance as Laura, AKA X-23, Wolverine’s clone daughter who was cooked up in a lab by Richard E Grant. Keen’s performance began quiet and neatly understated, but soon exploded with a berserker rage that would make Hugh Jackman’s clawed crusader proud to be her dad.
It’s been well established that Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier will not return after the events of Logan, leaving Keen’s X-23 as our only hope for a follow-up. Let’s have a look at the chances of that happening, and what it might look like if it does…
What’s actually been said
Naturally, Logan’s director and co-writer James Mangold (who also helmed The Wolverine before it) has already been asked many times about the chances of a Laura spinoff/sequel. It’s one of the big questions that he’s faced time and again on the Logan press tour.
“I always feel like I’m making a one-off movie every time,” Mangold told ComicBook.com in one interview, suggesting that sequels weren’t what he was thinking about during the production of Logan. “My feeling is that if you can make a good film, it’s naturally going to lend itself to people wanting to see sequels because it’s good and the characters are rich.”
He may not have been planning for it, then, but Mangold is open to the idea of returning to Laura’s story. He gave his most detailed answer on the matter to Collider, saying: “I definitely would like to explore what we could do. […] Dafne [Keen] is an incredible find and an incredible talent, and so answering your question, it would give you serious pause to think about how she might grow older in this role, and I think it might be something magical to see on film.”
Indeed it would. But would Dafne Keen be up for it? ComicBook.com asked her just that, and the actress gave a one-word answer, in fitting with her character of few words. Luckily for fans of Laura, that one word was “Yes.”
So, Mangold is keen and Keen is keen, and you can bet that 20th Century Fox would be up for producing another Laura-centric movie, considering the dosh that Logan is already raking in. They could keep the budget low again, minimising the risk, if they wanted to. The X-23 spinoff definitely could happen.
With those facts of the matter out of the way, let’s get to the baseless speculation. Where might Laura’s story go next? Here are some thoughts…
‘Eden’ and the other kids
Laura’s original mother figure, her mutant father and her surrogate grandfather have all died by the end of Logan. Gabriella, Wolverine and Professor X all lost their lives during the quest to get her to safety. Laura is bound to feel major guilt about that, which could make for a strong core to another in-depth character piece. If they picked up right where Logan left off, there would be plentiful story to tell.
As well as the lingering emotional turmoil, there are plot questions left unanswered by Logan that a direct sequel could address. For instance, Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine film seemed to suggest that someone was masterminding the safe passage for mutants out of the USA.
After all, someone wrote that comic with the coordinates for ‘Eden’. And when the kids got there, someone was on the other end of a radio, telling them when the satellites would be down and it’d be safest to cross the border. Who was that, a friend or a foe? Is there a chance that Laura and her super-powered chums have been lured into a trap?
This is all just speculation on my part, but that’s definitely somewhere you could send the story. Mangold could write it into a real ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ situation, revealing that ‘Eden’ isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. That sort of revelation would undermine the sacrifices Gabriella, Logan and Charles made to get Laura to Eden, which would only add to her guilt.
Also, would the American government (especially the evil one represented in Logan) really give up on tracking Laura just because she’s made it to Canada? It seems doubtful.
However, the idea of a bunch of kids running from one place to another, unsure who they could trust, getting into scrapes and big action set pieces at every turn, does sound dangerously Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials-y. I’m sure Mangold could make a better film than that, though. Something like Logan crossed with The Goonies could work wonderfully.
Strike out on her own
If explaining the tiniest details about Logan and its immediate fallout isn’t of much interest to Mr Mangold, he could follow the example of the Wolverine solo trilogy and plonk Laura in a whole new era and location. No Wolverine spinoff movie has started in the same decade or locale as the last, so why should Laura’s second cinematic outing follow on directly from Logan?
Perhaps they could establish that Laura, like Logan before her, is aging at a slower rate than everyone else. They could set the film fifty years after Logan, allowing the future landscape and the players in it to change significantly, while Laura essentially looks the same. On the inside, though, she could have grown up significantly.
Add in a whole new set of baddies and problems, and some supporting characters for Laura to call her own, and Fox could launch a whole franchise around X-23 that isn’t intrinsically attached to the previous big screen X-Men. Like Logan, it could be completely cameo free and focused on its characters.
Alternatively, if Fox do want to keep tying into Hugh Jackman’s tenure, they could have Laura travelling the globe in search of relics from her father’s life. They didn’t have much time to bond in Logan, but given the length of Wolvie’s lifespan and the footprints he must’ve left behind, Laura could learn a lot about her dad by following in his footsteps. If they decided to go down this route, perhaps they could have Laura bumping into her dad’s long lost brother, Liev Schreiber’s Sabretooth. That could be fun.
In all honesty, though, I prefer the idea of Laura having her own adventures now, that don’t tie back in any specific way to her father’s life. In my opinion, they should let her guilt over his death by the main connective tissue, not the entire plot. But what do I know?
Deadpool 2 (and the magic of time travel)
Deadpool 2 is set to add Cable, the metal-armed son of Cyclops, to its heroic roster. In the comics, Cable’s backstory is that he was raised in a dark, dystopian future before time-travelling to the present as a complete and total badass. If Fox want to move Laura into the modern day, and create opportunities for her to interact with other iconic characters, they could use Cable’s appearance in Deadpool 2 to make the transition.
All they would have to do is say that the dystopian future that Cable is travelling back from is the same one that Logan is set in (perhaps things got even worse a number of years later), and establish that he’s brought X-23 along for the ride for some reason. It would be worth the effort to see Laura verbally sparring with Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson. That would be a sight to behold.
Speaking of Mr Reynolds, he’s been vocal about his desire for Hugh Jackman to appear in Deadpool 2. But Jackman is insistent that he’s retiring from the Wolverine role now, with Logan being the perfect send-off. If there’s space for an adamantium-clad clawed hero in Deadpool 2, though, could they sub in Dafne Keen’s Laura to replace Jackman’s Wolvie?
This one feels like a long shot, especially since Logan’s James Mangold is seemingly open to doing another film with Laura in it. Would he be happy for the Deadpool 2 team to take the character into the modern day? Perhaps not.
Deadpool 2 starts shooting this summer, so we’ll probably know quite soon if Dafne Keen is in it. Like I said, though; it’s a long shot.
Join The New Mutants
If Fox do manage to manoeuvre X-23 into the modern day, the possibilities for her big screen future are endless. She wouldn’t just have to live in the Deadpool franchise. The New Mutants, for instance, would be a good fit for her character thematically, since it focuses on a group of younger X-Men recruits with a bit more edge to them than the main gang.
The Fault In Our Stars’ Josh Boone is helming this one, and the hot rumour is that he’s convinced James McAvoy to reprise his role as Professor X for the film. It remains to be seen exactly when this movie will be set, but my best guess would be the modern day. Since McAvoy is the only First Class star said to be returning, it wouldn’t make much sense to set it in the 1980s or the 1990s or something.
The fact that there hasn’t been a mainline X-Men film set in anything resembling the present since X-Men: The Last Stand is a bit odd, when you think about it. It’s all been dark futures and nostalgic past decades since then, with only spinoffs like The Wolverine and Deadpool allowed to take place in the here and now.
Perhaps The New Mutants will remedy that, showing an aged-up McAvoy recruiting his next bunch of heroes many years after the Jean Grey/Cyclops/Storm team – which we saw in both the original trilogy and the final frames of X-Men: Apocalypse – has graduated.
This film is a bit of an enigma, to be perfectly candid. But if it’s set in a time period that Laura can be wangled into, it would be very interesting to see her interacting with a younger Charles Xavier than the one she knew in Logan.
Join the classic X-Men
Nothing is outside the realms of possibility, especially in a franchise with a continuity this fluid, so it’s probably worth putting this suggestion on the table while I’m in rampant speculation mode: is there a chance that some time-travel trickery could see Laura inducted into the classic X-Men team that was formed in the final scenes of X-Men: Apocalypse?
The next film to feature this classic iteration of the X-Men is believed to start shooting this year. Its rumoured title is X-Men: Supernova. Simon Kinberg is rumoured to be directing it, and he’s once again working on the script (following his experience on X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse). Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey is believed to the focus, with Kinberg keen to take another run at The Dark Phoenix Saga after the critical bashing of The Last Stand.
As much as Laura would bring an edginess that’s currently lacking in this Wolverine-less team, I’d say the chances of this happening are next to nil. Since there isn’t believed to be any time travel in the movie, and it’s seemingly set in the 1990s, there isn’t really a way it could happen. Plus, the confusion among the team regarding the arrival of a Wolverine clone would probably overshadow the whole film.
We’ll have to make do with Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops, Alexandra Shipp’s Storm, Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler and Evan Peters’ Quicksilver in this one, then, assuming that they’re all contracted for more films.
To wrap up, then; essentially, it’s all speculation at this stage. Personally, I love the idea of Cable bringing her to the modern day in Deadpool 2, potentially leading to Laura having a presence in the central team of The New Mutants.
However, since James Mangold is the one that shepherded X-23 onto the big screen in such style, he should get first dibs on what happens next with the character. If he wants to keep her in the semi-dystopian future of Logan, then so be it. That dude has majorly earned our trust with Logan.
Laura has had many enemies in the comics, including evil clones of herself, evil clones of her father and mutant menaces we haven’t yet seen at the movies. And of course, the Weapon X programme is a central part of her story, which they could revisit if they wanted to. There are plenty of possibilities that could offer Laura a challenge, wherever she ends up in the timeline.
We’ll just have to wait and see to find out where she’s actually headed. As long as Dafne Keen keeps playing her, I’ll be happy. Feel free to leave your own theories on Laura’s future in the comments below…