The “dark and gritty superhero movie” has been one of blockbuster cinema’s most beloved tropes for over a decade, but while some of the more adult-skewing comic book adaptations have flamed out — like critically savaged DC offerings “Suicide Squad” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — a handful have succeeded. One such standout: filmmaker James Mangold’s pair of X-Men movies focused on Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, including the PG-13 “The Wolverine” and its haunting R-rated follow-up “Logan.”
While a spinoff of the film and its breakout character X-23 has been chattered about since its release in 2017, news on the project has remained scarce in recent months. The X-Men franchise as a whole is in a state of flux, thanks to both the recent acquisition of home studio Fox by Disney (which has been clear it would like to combine all of its many Marvel properties under one umbrella, but has yet to do so) and lackluster recent entries like this year’s disappointing “Dark Phoenix.” And yet Mangold himself remains dedicated to another “dark and gritty” concept that has been bandied about since the 2017 release of “Logan,” which introduced a beloved X-Men character worthy of her own spinoff.
When The Playlist asked Mangold at the recent Mill Valley Film Festival if he still had hopes to make an X-23 spinoff, the filmmaker was bearish on the possibilities. “Yes! Do I have an interest? Yes,” Mangold said when asked about the possibility of directing a solo X-23 movie. “Will it happen? At least in the near future, I doubt it.”
When “Logan” was released two years ago, a major subplot of the “old Logan” storyline included the on-screen debut of the Wolverine clone X-23, bred to be the perfect killing machine (thanks to Logan’s own DNA). In the film, young X-23 (AKA Laura Kinney, played by Dafne Keen) is introduced as one of many creations of the nefarious biotechnology corporation Alkali-Transigen, which has created a number of clones to use as weapons (many of them are, like Laura, just kids). Upon the release of the film, which ends with X-23 and many of her compatriots escaping the clutches of Alkali-Transigen and bound for a new life in Canada, Mangold was inevitably asked about the possibility of a spin-off focused only on X-23.
In the months following the February release of “Logan,” which has been credited with reinvigorating the R-rated superhero movie, picking up critical accolades (it was widely hailed as one of the best superhero movies ever made, if not the best) and big box office bucks (it made nearly $620M in global returns) along the way, Mangold was repeatedly asked about his plans for a spinoff. In October of 2017, he told The Hollywood Reporter that he was already working on a script for a X-23 movie. A month later, Mangold reaffirmed to ComicBook.com that both he and Keen were up for a solo X-23 movie.
Two years after the release of “Logan,” Disney bought Fox, seemingly throwing the current X-Men movie universe into potential disarray.
Since the acquisition of the studio by the House of Mouse, no new X-Men movies have been officially greenlit (even a third film in Fox’s other popular R-rated superhero series “Deadpool”). The only X-Men film released through the newly joined studios, the spinoff “Dark Phoenix,” arrived two months after the acquisition and became one of the year’s biggest flops. The lone X-Men film still awaiting release, Josh Boone’s long-languishing “The New Mutants,” has been pushed back repeatedly and was subjected to a series of reshoots. It’s currently expected to be released in April of next year, but Disney has remained tightlipped on its actual theatrical release plan.
Check out the full video over on The Playlist.
Mangold’s latest film, the Matt Damon- and Christian Bale-starring “Ford v Ferrari,” arrives in theaters on November 15.