Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fan Casting an X-23 Feature Film - The Age Issue

Outdated:  The opinions expressed herein have become outdated.  All casting ideas has been pushed up a degree.  The same casting for an origin feature would be best suited for an X-Force feature as well now and carries all the essences required for both currently still.

For the next few weeks in August, KP will be covering some outlying aspects to a potential X-23 feature film.  Why now of all times?  Well to put it bluntly, this month and next month mark the cut-off point to make an October 23, 2013 release.  This is a day that falls on a Wednesday which could coincide with her ten year anniversary for a special comic release too.  All the factors just lined up too perfect for marketing on this day.  From the date being 10-23, to the year being an anagram for 10-23, down to it even being her 10th anniversary.  It's still possible for a 2014 release, but not likely in this current climate.  If anything, the earliest we could expect is potentially her 15th anniversary(2018) or 20th anniversary(2023 and bingo was his name-o) which would mean even more new casting.

Now as for the age problem...
I've been very vocal on this issue in the past.  It's true though.  If you're going for an origin feature you have to display the ages needed which upheaves the entire cast into one of two directions.

Summer Glau in Dollhouse.
You have one side that wants Summer Glau as X-23 with the clear typecasting of female badass characters she has in her filmography.  Then you have another side that wants to see a new starlet start out the role for the origin aspects and set a new standard.  Both sides have equal footing.  Summer Glau does present an amazing actress for the role of an older Laura Kinney, but she doesn't quite have the same impact that a younger Laura Kinney would need for an origin piece.  There are film tricks one could use to do this, but it'd also skew the entire cast to older which hinders the origin's themes about science and the naivity of youth with ethics and morals.  Something that could prove scarier with an older cast, but would come across as more cliche in doing so. A younger scientist cast presents an easier audience empathy route.  A route of youthful ambition to change and shape the world through intelligence and reason without as much of an emphasis on maturity and the treatment of others.  An older casting on that end creates far too many questions and immediately depicts them as evil, whereas a younger casting helps push this is the learning experience for them and illicits far more sympathy and growth to their story.  It allows these side characters to mature and make their final moments have more impact.  Make no mistake, X-23's origin is just as much the story of Dr. Sarah Kinney as it is Laura.  That moment of clarity that takes hold which leads her to set her daughter free.  This is why we need more youthful scientists on screen for the story.  It makes them as the villains more rounded, and less predictable.  It makes them conveyed more human, more naive about reason and logic.  It makes their redemption, their change of heart that much more believable.  Of course this is besides the sociopathic Dr. Xander Rice.  That being said, there are two distinct directions an X-23 feature could take.

Summer Glau in Dollhouse.
Pure original story that's nothing like the comics and changing everything to accomodate audiences at large with minor fan nods like the usage of characters only in name outside of the core two the story needs.  That of Laura Kinney as played by Summer Glau, and Kimura as played by Mila Kunis.  This pairing works best for the older X-23 in my personal opinion, even plays well with aspects of the Yost/Kyle X-Force run between those two.  It pairs up two women who have proven themselves as badasses on screen, but are also starting to broaden their ranges to better capture their talents.  While these two for the lead roles would indeed be movie badasses, they evoke ages right outside the range an origin piece needs.  So the story would have to be altered to accomodate that.  In the end, the entire story would be different and portray a questionable spectrum of themes completely alien to X-23's concept and birth.  Would it look awesome on screen?  Oh definitely. Would it be faithful to the material in a manner to still convey the same emotion?  Probably not.   It would carry different themes, completely alter the impact of Laura's mother in the story, and would feel off to the presented concepts X-23's origin embodies.  It'd be stereotypical cliche pandering that appeals to a lower demographic and baser needs even while being an old school female badass character throwback.  It'd appeal to smaller audience sizes and possibly create extreme comparisons to the first Wolverine movie.  It'd be another Ultraviolet, or similar type oneshot films that while having amazing action choreography, just couldn't quite find their audience.  This would force it to be relegated to a questionable at best cult-hit status when what we need is a box office success.  We need a film that people grab their friends and drag them to go see because it is a must-see hypnotic action film, not a must see turn-your-brain-off action movie.

Selena Gomez in Getaway
The other direction is more low key tied to the origin with minimal changes outside of the handful of comic cliches it uses and potentially tweak small aspects of the psychological torture and self-harm infliction in the story.  For this I've personally narrowed my choices down to two again.  Laura Kinney as portrayed by Selena Gomez (though Bunheads star Julia Goldani Telles also presents strong possibilities), and Kimura as portrayed by Naya Rivera.  This pairing to me works well for the younger X-23 and Kimura that an origin feature would need.  It yields familiarity still with Naya Rivera reprising a role that's similar to her character Santana on Glee.  An aspect that yields an interesting counterpoint in her career as it displays a symbolic what if that character was never redeemed.  It also gives more emphasis on the Innocence Lost of X-23 herself with that casting and both give equal footing to aspects of child starlets that this story parallels in many ways.  It'll allow a more shock factor to settle into audiences at large and possibly draws even more into theaters as it uses two actresses that have followings outside of just geek circles.  It gives a form of subterfuge that X-23's origin story is known for, but also gives an eeriness that could play very well on the big screen from these two as they have no known precedent for roles like this.  It'd create a different kind of suspense that could really grab audiences and make them beg for more.  This of course leaves the door open for Summer Glau to reprise a role similar to that she played on Dollhouse.  Having Summer Glau for the role of Dr. Sarah Kinney, X-23's mother, allows a symbolic passing of the torch for girls to look to for powerful inspirational young women.  This side also has high potential for social media as those suggested have a mastery of social media promotion.  All of these factors help generate a moderate success even before audiences see and feel the full impact of the story that will bring them back to see it again and again with these potentially hypnotizing performances.

Summer Glau in Dollhouse.
Both sets have merits and choices that could be made.  One side, the older usage, leans closer to Fox's tendency to completely change the comics and start from scratch. This is something fans are growing leary of but it could quiet them with the casting.  In the end, creating mixed reactions and reviews for the movie itself.  The other is a chance to show that Fox is capable of handling comic integrity while still appealing to audiences at large.  This younger casting side allows Fox to use a capable writer that could start to intertwine their X-Universe into one large cohesive world as has been proven successful repeatedly. The older side might give us more plot holes and questionable material that caused the same outcry X-Men Origins: Wolverine had.  An outcry about how it shreds the soul of the property in the process of these changes that attempt to appeal to an audience that's already here and waiting for a well handled comic story that has heart, soul, and integrity.

Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers
Personally, I fall into a catergory where I kind of want to see both.  I think the usage of the aforementioned younger cast works for an origin feature.  While having Dr. Sarah Kinney as played by Summer Glau, it leaves the door open for a sequel feature where X-23 is older and Glau fits the role for Laura Kinney moreso because of the age shift.  An age shift that could also show she grew into her mother's shoes so to speak.  This keeps both sides happy and lets Fox test the waters.  If the older X-23 doesn't play well with audiences in a sequel, it'd be easy to go back to the younger X-23 actress in a feature that pre-dates her future self story.  This would be similar to how the Fast and the Furious franchise salvaged itself from Tokyo Drift by using the rest of the sequels to build to that moment.  It'd be a "here's how we started" to "here is her future" diverting into a "let's see how she got there."  If the first origin piece proves a money maker, it'd allow for experimentation with sequels to go anywhere imaginable, maybe even a future styled X-Force feature that pays homage to the story arc Not Forgotten.  For that reason, the casting needs to lean on the side that would generate the best revenue return to make sure there would be a sequel or sequels.  That means moving outside of geek typecasting initially, but also still capable of reaching out to them when needed as casting the mother as Glau would also yield.

Next time on the potential of an X-23 Feature Film: Dissecting the Origins for what's needed, what can be changed, and what outright needs to be cut to maintain the soul of the property and the essence of the story while still appealing to audiences at large and fitting within time constraints.  As masterfully woven as her origin is by Chris Yost and Craig Kyle, it does include many comic cliches that can't work on the big screen and need to be tweaked or rationalized better to work.  It also contains one epic memorable scene that could be hit or miss outright.  That's right, I'm speaking of the infamous light bulb click and just one example of the comic cliches is the shopping strip TV store news report.


  1. So how about some huge outside the box thinking.

    Cast McKayla Maroney as X-23?!? Yes the gold medal winning gymnast. Train her how to throw some punches, kicks, martial arts. She is already an Olympic level gymnast!!! Think of the possibilities. She is pretty, is certainly the right age. Already wears her hair similar to Laura... and wait for it. I think her eyes are naturally green.

    Also, imagine her slaughtering a series of guards at the facility and she could bust out her "patented" McKayla is not impressed looks!!! Pop that in a teaser trailer and how does everyone seeing that trailer not want to go see what this is about?

    How is this not gold??? Marvel or Fox or whoever could start printing money banking on somebody that is completely in the minds of people across the USA!!!!

    1. I'm not sure about a direct X-23 movie for her, but hell yes to a spoof movie casting her as X-23. That'd be downright epic and allows the camp to work beautifully. For an actual X-23 film, I'm not sure how camp would work out.

      I don't know. You bring up a very interesting point though. A large chunk of a feature would be dependant on facial expressions, and she does have the most recognizable. Still lean spoof/parody for her, but cameo wise in like Days of Future past like that would fit and be outright hillarious and open the doors for an X-23 feature later.