Sunday, August 3, 2014

Could X-23 be Portrayed by Anyone that's not White?

Simple answer.  Yes.

The longer answer to this.  Any changes would have to be also appended to who is cast as the mother or if a different surrogate was used.  With this story being heavily about genetics with a dash of nature vs nurture, the mother's role would have to reflect any such changes made to Laura herself for it to make sense.

A long time ago, when I had first suggested Selena Gomez in the role, I was hit with some flack right off the bat.  The exact reaction from the bowels of the internet was "X-23 isn't a spic!"  Which by the racial remarks itself reflects racism outside of genuine thought being the reason they were against it.  Wolverine himself isn't an Aussie, yet Hugh Jackman is the man everyone thinks of for live action Wolverine.  Blink/Clarice Ferguson isn't Asian in the comics, yet the portrayal in Days of Future Past is amazing and works marvelously.

Race bending the character isn't a bad thing.  It depends on the direction that's decided to be taken.  The fact of the matter is though, Marvel(across all studios) does need to step up their game on diversity for women.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a Latina X-23, or for that matter, an African American one or Asian one either.  Marvel does have characters though that could fill these spots too that also deserve appropriate representation on the big screen.  So it's really left to what the director feels is best or the direction that's decided to be taken that still maintains the heart and soul of the property.

Within X-23's stories, we have Agent Morales herself who is a Latina that helps counterbalance the sub tones of what could be perceived as Hispanic on white crime because of Kimura's origins.  Kimura's history being another element that can be changed easily though to any ethnic background.  This could also bolster her film origins to be more traumatic and believable.  Would Zander Rice resort to human trafficking for a girl to become Kimura?  One he could make sure would harbor the hate that he does?  It adds more layers to why she wouldn't turn against the Facility with the abilities they gave her.  Creating a stronger vengence driven point to the end of act two because of X-23 having blown up the only place Kimura has ever called home and killed the man that "saved" her.  The place and person that also made her feel powerful and taught her to take out her aggression on X-23.

In recent years I've gravitated more towards Lucy Hale portraying Laura Kinney herself.  This has more to do with the fact that her portrayal feels like it could be straight from the comic page to visually match in a borderline 1 to 1 ratio to appease both comic fans and not falsely present a character that has regular appearances to an audience that may be expecting something different if they check out the comics, but that doesn't mean there aren't other options and directions that could be taken.  That doesn't also mean that Marvel themselves couldn't help balance this out by providing an outlet via their other imprints like the Ultimate line of comics where X-23 has yet to appear.  I personally feel that Lucy Hale is the right choice for the role of Laura Kinney as well as Kate Bishop, and thankfully with the only method for the same actor or actress to portray two Marvel characters is by doing it cross studio, we're in luck that Fox has the X-Franchise and Disney has the MCU.  So that could happen.  Just like Chris Evans was the Human Torch for Fox previously, and is now Captain America himself over in the MCU.  So it's not unheard of that an actor or actress could portray two Marvel characters if the rights are at two different places.  It even works in the favor of fans, as doing such provides them ample material to make gifs from for either one or even append scenes to create a longer fan edited version of either character's story.  This in turn works for the audience perpetuating its own marketing on themselves and further spreads the word of mouth for others to go check it out.

Unlike X-23, heroes like Spider-man have precedent with changes like this.  Spider-man himself with his full body suit has always represented it could be any kid/underdog under that mask.  Spider-man has never been about the little white boy that goes to save the world.  It's about a boy that's been bullied that's been given great power and with great power comes great responsibility.  At his core, spider-man is about doing what's right because it's right no matter who you are.

For X-23, this is true in a different way.  Laura's story initially is a large chunk her mother's story.  Those changes would have to be reflected as such, but once they are, could fit seamlessly into the story because of the overall gender symbolism at work.  X-23's story isn't one of race baiting, it's one of the mistreatment of women and fighting back.  This is something that no single race has a monopoly on.

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