Laura Wolverine

Best There Is: Why Laura Kinney Should Be the MCU’s Debut Wolverine

There has been a great deal of speculation recently as to when we’re going to see Wolverine on the big screen again. Hugh Jackman shared a piece the other day of Wolvie art by BossLogic as well as a picture of himself with Kevin Feige, and those things were enough to cause so much speculation that it started trending on Twitter. It’s pretty clear at this point that people want to see Wolverine again. They want to see him in the MCU and they want Hugh Jackman. And honestly, with the multiverse on the horizon—and already being explored in Loki—and with so many actors coming back from older movies outside the cinematic universe, it actually feels like a distinct possibility. I can’t even believe I’m saying that, but it does. It would never have been a possibility a few years ago, but things change, especially when massive corporations start cannibalizing each other to the larger detriment of the entire entertainment industry. Still, when mutants make their inevitable MCU debut, there’s an opportunity for a clean slate, and I’d like to see Marvel seize that. No matter what their approach turns out to be, it’s clear that people want Wolverine and that—sooner or later—we’re going to see another one. And when we do, for a great many reasons, I think that Wolverine should be Laura Kinney. 

For those unfamiliar, Laura is a clone of Wolverine, first introduced in the animated series X-Men: Evolution before being introduced into the comics and achieving a great deal of popularity on her own, much like Harley Quinn before her. She made her live-action debut in 2017’s Logan, which is probably the version of the character most people are familiar with at this point. For many years, she went by the codename X-23, denoting that she was the 23rd cloning attempt of Wolverine, AKA Weapon X. She was created to be a killer, she was a child assassin, and that codename represented everything she was trying to shed to become a better person and attempt to build a life of her own beyond the caged animal she was treated as and trained to be. That codename was also trending not long ago because people still claim that it’s how they see her, which is unfortunate. Laura finally succeeded in becoming more than a number, becoming a hero in her own right. A few years ago, she took the mantle of Wolverine and has been proudly wearing the bumblebee suit ever since. She is Wolverine in the comics at this point and that should, honestly, just continue right onto the screen. 

One of the biggest reasons for why I think this is the right step is also one of the simplest: I want to see a lived-in X-Men universe when these characters finally make it into the MCU. Don’t, for the love of God, try to do a new version of First Class that’s entrenched in existing Marvel mythology. Thankfully, these movies have been pretty good about not retreading the same old beats when introducing characters that have a pre-existing cinematic legacy. When Incredible Hulk was released five years after Hulk, it didn’t retell the origin even though it was a new continuity, because they smartly trusted the audience enough to know the basics. Big Bomb. Big Mad. We get it. They did the same thing with Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man got a lot of flack for making us watch Uncle Ben get shot all over again, retelling Spidey’s origin even though everyone knows it. 

At this point, we’re coming off the heels of twenty years of X-Men movies. Even if these are totally new interpretations of those characters, like Holland’s Spidey or Norton/Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, I don’t want to see their origins. I want to see thriving X-Men, I want to see X-Men who have been at it for years. Maybe we don’t need Professor X, at least not at first. Introduce us to the school with Kitty Pryde already running the show, why not? Nothing would more boldly state that legacy than introducing us to a Wolverine who has already taken up the mantle from Logan. We can start the X-Men’s time in the MCU with a second-generation Wolverine and people would get it. Even though these wouldn’t be the same characters they saw in Logan (but who knows? Maybe it could be Dafne Keen) audiences got enough from the relationship in that movie to see how this makes sense. And even if they don’t, a single line touching on how much it means to wear the mask and the expectations that come with it would be enough to fill people in. 

There’s also the issue of recasting. Even if we saw Hugh Jackman in the larger multiverse, it’s hard to imagine him jumping on board for an entire new franchise after having already played Wolverine in nine movies, ten if you count his stock footage appearance in Deadpool 2. But even though he’s not the most comic accurate, being basically over a foot taller than the Logan on the page, his name is synonymous with the character. It would be an incredibly though recasting, so many people don’t want to see anyone else. And we probably will, eventually. I think at some point we will inevitably be introduced to the MCU’s Logan, whoever that might be, but it would make so much sense to put out those recasting fires right out of the gate by introducing us to his successor. 

Even when the previous X-Men movies weren’t about Wolverine, they usually found a way to be about Wolverine. Maybe that means we don’t need any for the time being, who knows? There are certainly plenty of other mutants to choose from. But I think having a Wolverine really adds that extra dose of manslaughter that rounds out an X-team. Or she could simply not skewer her enemies like Logan was known to do. That’s another benefit of having Laura fill that role. She’s certainly had similar experiences to her predecessor, but she is a very different character with her own story to tell, a young woman seeking to break free of her programming, to overcome her trauma, to forge an identity for herself that she was never allowed to have. More than any other reason to bring Laura’s Wolverine to the screen, that’s it. It’s because hers is a story worth telling. She could even easily sustain a solo outing of her own, whether it be a Disney Plus series or something else. 

Sure, fans may never have gotten to see Logan in the classic comic book suit, but honestly Laura just wears it better. Comic book Logan certainly makes it work, it’s iconic, but he’s so short for so much yellow and Jackman never committed to wearing it. Some people think it’s tough to translate, but I don’t. Bright yellow makes perfect sense for a character who doesn’t need to worry about sneaking around and is largely impervious to pain. Laura’s the character I want to see moving in a blur toward an enemy, like a big yellow sign on the subconscious that reads “Caution: Knives.” The MCU has never shied away from bright—well, slightly dulled—colors and costumes in a way the Fox movies often did. It sounds ridiculous to say, but even as yellow and pointy as it is, Laura’s Wolverine outfit feels much more practical, and thus much easier to translate to film should the opportunity ever hopefully arise. 

Laura’s very presence among the X-Men would strengthen the core themes of found family. Most of these characters haven’t had the easiest home lives, simply by being mutants, and the school is as much a safe haven for them as it is a learning space and training grounds. Some have been disowned by their parents, others were thrown over a waterfall by their parent on the night they were born. But Laura, I think it’s fair to say, has had it rougher than most. She was raised in a lab to be nothing more than a killer, her education was violence, and any positive relationships she formed were cruelly torn away from her and she was punished for having them. It’s a lot to unlearn, it’s tough to even allow yourself to feel positive emotions, to have friends after a life like that, and the support of those friends is everything. That is so resonant and so worth bringing to the screen.

Even on the page, Laura can make for different kinds of X-Men stories about trauma and recovery, or sometimes about being okay with not being okay. In movies, comics, animation, there is so much value to this character. There is a huge potential there that has only barely been scratched, but there has never been a better time to pop those claws and start.

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