WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for "Logan" and several other "X-Men" movies.
Well, it's over. After almost two decades, the "X-Men" film franchise has lost its star mutant: Wolverine. That universe is filled with mutants full of potential and now that the titan has stepped aside, it's time for someone new to take his place in the limelight. We've seen quite a few underused characters throughout the 10 films released so far and in the "X-Men" comics, all of whom might do well to replace that Wolverine-shaped void in our hearts.
With a lot still up in the air regarding the future of the franchise, we thought it might be a good time to take a look back at some of the mutants who might really shine the way Logan did if they were given the same focus and chance at character development that Wolverine received. Here are 15 mutants from the films and comics who'd do just as well if they were given the Logan treatment.
Rogue acted as an extreme case of mutation in the film series. Her gift was also a curse, keeping her from being able to touch people. There's a lot of potential in her complexity for real growth and development, so hopefully this time it, won't lead to her taking some sort of cure. If you're still not ready for someone completely new to take the spotlight, worry not, she's taken a lot from Wolverine in both the films and the comics. They even stated at the end of the first film that she'd adopted a lot of Logan's "charming" qualities, so who knows?
It wouldn't be far-fetched if some of those returned somehow and led her into some sort of storyline where she uses his claws like she did in the comics after absorbing a Skrull's shapeshifting abilities in the "Maximum Security" (written by Kurt Busiek) storyline. Logan clearly made quite an impact on her, so it wouldn't be completely random for the film franchise to shift focus to her now that Logan is in that big bar in the sky.
Fans had been waiting for Gambit to show up ever since his name turned up in a database Mystique was snooping through during "X2: X-Men United" (directed by Bryan Singer). We were finally given the card-throwing, staff-spinning Cajun in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (directed by Gavin Hood), but there was no room for him to develop.
Gambit is a charismatic character who may often seem as though he's carefree when really he's dark and constantly struggling with himself on the inside, as anyone who has read about him will know. Gambit is a lot like Logan in many ways. He's a tortured soul who tends to act on his own, though he's definitely not as much of a loner. If the films were to focus on him, he may quickly become a fan favourite, one who dominates the screen as powerfully as Logan did. He already did in the various animated series such "Wolverine and the X-Men" or "X-Men: The Animated Series" with his wit and explosive fighting skills.
It's a shame that throughout at least four of the "X-Men" films in which Storm appears, she wasn't given the same treatment as Wolverine. For whatever reason, the film franchise has neglected to explore her or her powers, heck, it wasn't until "X-Men: The Last Stand" (directed by Brett Ratner) that we got to see her fly higher than a few inches off the ground! We get to see a few of her incredible powers, but she still hasn't been given the chance to impress us with her character. In the comics, she was worshipped as a goddess before Xavier recruited her. She even led the X-Men after Scott had his child (after easily besting him in a duel) in "The Uncanny X-Men" #201 (written by Chris Claremont, artwork by Rick Leonardi, Whilce Portacio and Glynis Oliver).
Even if her character is nothing like Wolverine, there are few characters more deserving of that amount of focus than Storm. She's got a great origin story that was only briefly touched on in "X-Men: Apocalypse," one that leads to the sort of inner struggle that we loved when we saw it in Wolverine. She's a perfect fit.
This ninja-like psychic was only recently introduced to the film universe in "X-Men: Apocalypse" (directed by Bryan Singer), unfortunately, like many of the characters in that film, she was absolutely underdeveloped. Where the comics portray her as being a warrior, struggling against the oppressive and violent nature of the world around her, the film just seemed interested in having another familiar character to tease fans and act as a thug for Apocalypse.
Psylocke would be an incredible character to focus on now that Logan is out of the picture. Her backstory has enough twists and turns to be adapted throughout several films and her psionic powers means that there's the potential for lots and lots of evisceration, which is half the reason we loved seeing Logan on screen! She's like Xavier and Logan combined, both of whom have just exited the film franchise. Clearly, she's someone the writers seriously need to consider for the new phase of "X-Men" movies.
It's clear that Bishop isn't as well known as other X-Men like Wolverine, Storm or Cyclops, but he was already introduced into the film universe in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (directed by Bryan Singer). Even in the few minutes we actually saw him, he stood out from the rest of them and proved that he's perfectly capable of satisfying any desire to see rage-filled action in the "X-Men" films.
His story is also quite similar to Logan in certain ways. His past is a horrible one and he too has lost loved ones due to the cruelty and madness of others, namely his parents to the sentinels that decimated the mutants of the future. If fans really do want another loner figure, Bishop seems like he'd be a great fit. With his time-travelling comic book backstory, he'd definitely allow for more flexibility in regards to the plot of the film. For example, if the screenwriters ever wanted a plausible way to shift the entire film universe again.
One character who might offer all that raw violence is Warpath. You'd be forgiven for not noticing that he appeared in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," played by Booboo Stewart and taking on advanced sentinels on his own. He's an undeniably fantastic fighter, right up there on Wolverine's level. His powers and skills (most of which were briefly shown in the film) include superhuman strength, speed, agility, resistance to injury and heightened senses. He's like Wolverine's Apache brother who uses vibranium bowie knives (a gift from Storm) instead of claws, and whose name is also James.
If fans want someone relatively new to explore, Warpath looks like the perfect candidate. If the films were to focus on him with a backstory faithful to the comic books in which he initially blames the X-Men for his brother's death, then it would add depth and add a dynamic to the stories we could see unfold throughout the films. It would definitely be a nice change from the X-Men having to fight Magneto for the umpteenth time.
Despite being one of the main characters in the beginning, Cyclops wasn't really given any kind of story of his own the way Logan had his epic, long-lasting journey. In fact, in the beginning of "X-Men: The Last Stand," he was quickly killed off and almost completely forgotten. Yes, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" showed us Scott when he was a boy and "X-Men: Apocalypse" gave us his slightly different origin, but while the latter at least attempted to develop his character, it didn't seem to get anywhere.
He needs real focus and time to develop. This is the guy who became the leader of the X-Men, left to father his child with the clone of the woman he loved and had his whole life manipulated by the shadowy Mr. Sinister. There's a lot to work with in terms of thought-provoking, emotionally gripping character development. They just need to shift more focus to him more than they have been doing so far. Why not? He's already a relatively popular member of the X-Men. He deserves more than what we've been seeing.
8 JEAN GREY/PHOENIX
If they don't bring adult Cyclops back, at least let us see a resurrected and emotionally tortured Phoenix. The nature of her powers and the internal struggle between Jean Grey and the Phoenix would be arguably more interesting to see develop than Logan's struggle with his past, or perceived lack thereof. That struggle would also be far more action-packed, what with her tendency to completely disintegrate things when Dark Phoenix takes control.
"X-Men: Apocalypse" thankfully gave her a bit more depth, as well as a struggle with her power that we could somewhat understand. Her character was depicted as more of a jaded outcast, trying to make her curse work for her, something she eventually did in defeating Apocalypse. We definitely need more of that and now is a perfect time for it to happen, especially since the films continue to escalate in terms of scale. The Phoenix would be both an engaging hero and a terrifying villain, one that would dwarf both Magneto and Apocalypse.
One of the reasons why Wolverine works so well in the comics and on screen is because he's constantly in conflict with everything, including himself. Hank McCoy exhibits that similar conflict. Despite being persecuted by humanity, he longs to be a part of it, indulging himself in everything from classical literature to advanced levels of scientific research. Behind his furry blue bestial appearance lies one of the greatest minds in the world.
He'd be an interesting shift in focus for the film franchise, especially if Kelsey Grammer was willing to continue to play him. His scenes in "X-Men: The Last Stand" were some of the most enjoyable and where Logan was often pure rage and indifference, Beast faces the world and all its spite and wonder with a certain enthusiasm. It'd be a refreshing change to the films, one that would fit quite well into the tonal shift seen between the relative lightheartedness of the first film and the gloom of the latest one.
People love a story of redemption and with all the changes made to the timeline after Logan's adventure in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," it might not be such an outlandish idea to have the films shift focus to Logan's brother, Sabretooth. Not as a villain, but as something of a heroic figure. It wouldn't be the first or even the largest change the character has ever seen. Remember in "X-Men" when he was pretty much just a mindless beast with golden locks, as opposed to James' depraved half-brother?
Even in the comics, we've seen a good guy Sabretooth more than once. The "Age of Apocalypse" universe shows us a completely different Sabretooth, one that takes in Blink and was cast out by Apocalypse for his hesitance to go along with nuking the entirety of humanity. More recently, he became one of the good guys in "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" after a moral inversion that became permanent. In fact, he promises to live up to Wolverine's example in "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" #9 (written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Jim Cheung and a lot more). That could easily be worked into future films, giving them new depth.
We know he's going to show up in the upcoming "Deadpool 2," but what if afterwards the character was given more screen time in other "X-Men" films? Cable has fought with and against the X-Men in his fight to make the world better. Like Logan, his powers also come at a price. His techno-organic infection was constantly trying to kill him before the Phoenix Force cured him in "Avengers: X-Sanction" #3 (written by Jeph Loeb, with artwork by Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell), though at the expense of most of his powers.
He may even be more relatable as a character than Wolverine. Cable is held back by himself and even after losing his abilities, he keeps fighting. That might be a more relatable character to see in the films than mutants with unbelievable powers. As the films already released continue to deteriorate in terms of clear messages (what exactly was "X-Men: Apocalypse trying to say?), the addition of a character like Cable might just help with its return it to form.
Then again, maybe fans do just love the wild and colorful mutant adventures we've been given because they are so unbelievable. Maybe they enjoyed Logan because he was so feral at times. In that case, maybe Wolfsbane would better suit your cinematic appetite. Rahne Sinclair was a 19-year-old girl who discovered that she was a mutant with the ability to transform into an extraordinarily large wolf or remain in her transitional state which looks much like an eight-foot-tall werewolf.
Since early last year, it was rumoured that Maisie Williams (known for playing Arya Stark in "Game of Thrones") would be playing Rahne in a "X-Men: New Mutants" film (that's two Stark kids we could have in the "X-Men" films now). If the movie version of Wolfsbane is anything like the animalistic soul that Wolverine was, then perhaps we'll be seeing more of her. It'd certainly provide a refreshing new atmosphere for the franchise, as well as great fight scenes. Werewolves vs mutants? Sounds good, doesn't it?
Speaking of an "X-Men: New Mutants" film, let's take a look at members of the comic New Mutants. Feral, first appearing in "New Mutants" #99 (written by Rob Liefeld and Fabien Nicieza, artwork by Liefeld and Brad Vancata), Maria Callasantos proves to be quite similar to Wolverine, not only in her obvious animalistic qualities, but also in her backstory in which death and tragedy are in abundance (though nowhere near as bloody as Wolverine's). The two have also worked together a few times in the comics.
If she does show up in future films, she'd be a great character to focus on. She's a much younger character (which is what the films seem to want to focus on, recently) than the classic X-Men and she's relatively unknown, which makes her quite a flexible character for the writers to work with, meaning she won't necessarily be bogged down by preconceptions of what the character should be in the same way Logan was (even now, there are people who still complain Hugh Jackman was too tall to play Logan).
Julio Richter was taken from the X-Terminators to the New Mutants in "The New Mutants" #76 (written by Louise Simonson, illustrated by Rich Buckler, Tom Palmer and Glynis Wein). He remained with the team until he leaves to rescue Wolfsbane. He'd return later on, but the team had become X-Force by then. Having just been introduced to the film franchise in "Logan," with Wolfsbane being slated to appear in the next mutant film, it's quite possible we'll see Rictor, the young mutant who causes earthquakes, play a more prominent role similar to his comic book counterpart.
He did quite seem like the confident leader in "Logan" and given this new backstory they've given him, it'd be interesting to see where that leads him and if he becomes something of a lone-wolf character like the man that saved him and all the other kids. If the X-Men films are now focusing on that group of children, it'd make sense that they'd focus on him as their leader, the way the comics once focused on Cyclops as the leader of the X-Men.
The most obvious choice for comic book fans would be Logan's own son, Daken. In the comics, Akihiro continues to try to live up to the legacy his father left behind. With Logan gone, we probably wouldn't ever get the conflict between the father and son, but there's still a lot of potential here for a story as compelling and deep as that of "Logan," which has arguably raised the standard for superhero films.
Daken has taken Wolverine's place before, most notably in Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers stating with "Dark Avengers" #1 (written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Mike Deodato Jr. and Rain Beredo). Back then, he was more of a bad guy, though definitely not as much as the actual bad guys in that group. Even if they did introduce Daken without that paternal hatred, you'd still have a character who could really develop and give Logan's end even more meaning than it already has.
Which Marvel mutant do you want to see step into the limelight now that Wolverine is gone? Be sure to tell us in the comments!