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Between his extensive resume in the Marvel universe, and Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character in FOX’s X-Men films, Wolverine has become arguably the most iconic Marvel mutant of all time. Certain tenants of the character have remained unchanged for decades: the claws, the anti-social demeanor, and the willingness to kill. However, now it seems Marvel has opted to change one consistent aspect of the character: the gender.
According to Yahoo Movies, Marvel has introduced a female Wolverine the their comic book continuity. However, this new female Wolverine is not merely a gender-swapped Logan – as he just died in the aptly-titled Death of Wolverine story arc – but rather his protégé Laura Kinney, a.k.a. X-23. X-23 existed within the Marvel universe for quite some time as a mutant in her own right – a clone of the original Wolverine – but she will now take up his mantle in the wake of his death.
Handing off iconic superhero titles has become a fairly commonplace practice in the industry as of late. Thor recently experienced a major change as he was similarly changed to a she – and "she" turned out to be love interest Jane Foster. Besides gender swaps, the mantle of Captain America has been passed from Steve Rogers to both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes on separate occasions, Spider-Man has been altered from Peter Parker to Miles Morales, and the cowl of Batman has been handed to almost every citizen of Gotham city at some point or another. The idea of a hero as a timeless ideal that anyone can embody has become one of the most well-used tropes in the world of comics.
This alteration of the clawed Canadian could also have some major implications for the X-Men films. With Hugh Jackman most certainly leaving the role after his next solo outing, it’s on Fox to find a suitable replacement for arguably the single most beloved actor to inhabit a superhero role in modern times. Rather than trying to find someone who can recapture Jackman’s strengths in the roles, they may instead opt to find an actress who can embody the spirit of Wolverine without imitating what has already been done. Lady Deathstrike – who bears similar abilities and traits to Wolverine – made a definite impression on fans when she appeared in X2 all the way back in 2003, so the more radical choice here could most certainly find an audience.
All that being said, plenty of creative decisions made in the world of comics do not find their way to the movies. For now, X-23’s transition to Wolverine seems to work for Marvel comics, but if her popularity proves definitive, we may soon see an adamantium-coated hero on screen with some decidedly more feminine characteristics.