Hugh Jackman is up for one last run as Wolverine. While he has defined the character onscreen since the original X-Men movie in 2000 — appearing as the berserker mutant Logan in a half-dozen films — Jackman has made it clear that the upcoming Wolverine 3 will be his superhero swan song.
With Jackman hanging up the claws, could we see a radically different Wolverine in a future X-Men film or spinoff? The idea is not too far-fetched, especially considering Marvel Comics big reveal today.
Marvel has unveiled the first images of its newest comic-book reboot, featuring a female version of the iconic hero.
Laura Kinney takes on the titular role in All-New Wolverine. Originally known as X-23, Kinney was cloned from the original Wolverine (a.k.a. Logan) — complete with retractable claws, adamantium skeleton, and superhuman healing powers and strength — as the ultimate assassin. She ultimately renounced her origins as a killing machine and became Logan’s protégée and serving on teams like X-Force and the New X-Men.
In the current Marvel Comics continuity, Logan is presumed dead — or as dead as a comic-book character can be (long story, short: He was infected by a virus that inhibited his healing abilities and then was encased in a lump of adamantium). In his absence, “Laura will honor his memory by taking up the mantle and following in his footsteps as a hero,” according to Marvel. “She is the All-New Wolverine! And her story is just getting started.”
Kinney’s debut issue arrives on stands Nov. 11. The new Wolverine is only the latest for Marvel, which has been reimagining and diversifying its core characters over the past few years. The half-black, half-Latino Miles Morales suits up alongside fellow Spider-Man Peter Parker in the current Marvel comic-book world; Morales is also the reigning Spidey on Disney XD’s popular animated series Ultimate Spider-Man. Steve Rogers has retired as Captain America and Sam Wilson (formerly Falcon) now wields the shield. Jane Foster is Thor. Kamala Khan is Ms. Marvel, the first Muslim-American character to headline a Marvel comic book. Captain Marvel, a B-lister who was a male hero for decades, is now the alter ego of (former Ms. Marvel) Carol Danvers. (When the Captain Marvel film comes out in 2019, it will be the Danvers version of the hero on the big screen, not a male incarnation.)
“Time and again, I’ve heard it said that the quality that makes a comic a Marvel comic is that it reflects the world outside your window. So, naturally, as the audience for Marvel comics has grown and diversified, the comics themselves have evolved to follow suit,” Marvel editor Daniel Ketchum tells Yahoo via email. “An African-American Captain America, a female Thor whose alter ego is battling breast cancer, and a Ms. Marvel who is a Pakistani-American Muslim girl coming of age in a post-9/11 America present stories that aren’t just relevant today, but exciting and important to explore on the page.
“Different life experiences are being represented in comics like never before. And this trend is absolutely continued in All-New Wolverine, as our protagonist, Laura, adopts the legacy left behind by her deceased father-figure and, over the course of her journey, will decide how to wield it and make it her own.”
While the reconception of traditional heroes has elicited some knee-jerk complaints from recalcitrant readers, the publisher is determined to continue the trend. “I can totally understand how a reader could feel forsaken when we put a character they’ve come to love aside in order to go somewhere new and unknown,” says Ketchum. “I’m not sure that we do anything in particular to combat that other than doing what we always strive to do: Tell the most exciting, inspiring stories possible. And hopefully — just as a connection was forged with the classic version of the character — as you witness this new character’s story unfold, it becomes your story, too.”
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe winding down its Phase Three, producers have indicated that the core team of Avengers is headed for a shakeup. Considering how Marvel’s comics have been ramping up alternate versions of popular heroes, it’s not too much of a leap to envision some of the newbies transitioning to a film world largely populated by white male heroes played by guys named Chris.
While Wolverine and the X-Men are licensed by Fox and operate outside the MCU, the studio has shown a willingness to reimagine the team to reflect the ever-shifting comic-book roster in the recent First Class and Days of Future Past. With Jackman giving up the role of Wolverine and next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse conceived as the finale of the trilogy headlined by the James McAvoy–Michael Fassbender–Jennifer Lawrence cast, the team is in need of new faces. We’re sure Lawrence would agree: A female Wolverine would be a most welcome addition.
Watch Jackman talk about his future as Wolverine: