A fan well-versed in X-Men lore can extrapolate a number of things from a recent rumor that 20th Century Fox’s next Wolverine movie may don the title Weapon X—far more than simply what market research must have revealed about previous contender Old Man Logan. Though not officially confirmed (Nerdist has reached out for confirmation and will update this story as details emerge), the purported new title—if real—is just the latest breadcrumb in a trail leading to a premise that Fox has been hinting at for quite some time now.
First off, identifying “Weapon X”: Marvel Comics readers know this as the scientific research facility devoted to top secret projects with a penchant for going awry. Its most notable experiment produced Wolverine himself. The facility was the subject of an eponymous arc published between March and September of 1991, which chronicled the seizure, experimentation on, and mental incapacitation of mutant Logan.
Although we’ve seen Fox attempt to tackle the origin of Wolverine previously—most notably in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a critical low point for the franchise—another stab at the backstory could make its way to the screen. The self-revising series reintroduced the Weapon X storyline in its latest entry, X-Men: Apocalypse, during which point a teenaged Jean Grey rescued the captive Logan from the clutches of tyrannical government scientists and imposed amnesia. (All he got back was his name, but it’s a start.)
Apocalypse leaves Logan confused, enraged, and armed with adamantium claws as he is relegated to scampering around the wintry woodlands in the early 1980s. It’s reasonable to assume that Wolverine’s next standalone, despite taking place in the future, may link back (perhaps by way of flashbacks?) to this event and following this variant of the character rather than the one who—gratis of Kitty Pryde—traveled back to the 1970s in X-Men: Days of Future Past to institute a timeline that introduced Apocalypse, ret-conned Nightcrawler, and sent a teenaged Jean Grey on a rescue mission to Weapon X, where she’d in fact encounter the shell of a man that her adult self would someday come to love, before she’d fall victim to the strength of her own powers, leaving her heartbroken soulmate with no recourse but to journey back to the 1970s to institute a timeline that introduced Apoc—god, time travel is confusing.
This title is not the only clue we have about the Weapon X’s premise, though. For some time now, we’ve believed that Fox has been aching to introduce a character especially important to his legacy: X-23.
While the character known as X-23—alternatively as Laura Kinney—was in fact first introduced in a 2003 episode of the animated series X-Men: Evolution, her comic debut one year later served as the proper illustration of her character history. After creating and losing control of Wolverine, the Weapon X facility set to work on developing a clone of his DNA, failing time after time. Only the 23rd clone survived—born to scientist Dr. Sarah Kinney—and is enlisted for further experimentation at the age of seven. She is treated with radiation to activate her mutant powers, armed with the same adamantium that coats Wolverine’s famous claws, and effectively brainwashed into acting as a murder weapon.
Kinney’s life from there on involves a slew of colorful chapters, mostly in New York City. She tries her hand at prostitution, waiting tables at a “mutants only” club, and ultimately acting as a veritable superhero.
Granted, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, because the version of X-23 that Weapon X seems to be interested is of the younger variety…and is, at least by way of code naming, not called Laura Kinney (or X-23, for that matter). Comic Book Resources has dug up the film’s casting call for an “11 – 14 year old girl to play the role of Zoe,” who is described as a “temperamental, impulsive and feral creature that can raise genuine mayhem” and “can eat like an animal.” (All checks out for a Wolverine clone.) The casting call goes on to say that, “she has no family and until now, has never left the compound in which she was born,” and adds, “Martial arts or gymnastics experience preferred but not necessary – but actress must be extremely physical and able to improvise scenes without necessarily resorting to speech.”
As coy lingo and pseudonyms are hardly unusual in the case of high profile casting notices, we are far from ruling this out as a call for the X-23 we know from Evolution and the comics. All signs seem to point fairly consistently toward Weapon X serving as an extrapolation on the mythology of the lab that created Logan and Laura alike. Calling back to my above note about flashbacks, Weapon X may even utilize a younger take on the character to introduce the full-grown Kinney we believe they’re gearing up to feature in their developing X-Force project.
Do you think that’s where we’re headed? Let us know in the comments!
Want the scoop on the villains of Wolverine 3? Jessica spills it below.
Images: 20th Century Fox; Marvel Comics