Since making its debut earlier this month, Logan has grossed a very impressive $525.3 million at the worldwide box office — already surpassing the box office of the previous two Wolverine solo films. Some of that success can be attributed to Dafne Keen's standout performance as Laura/X-23, the female clone of Wolverine. Interestingly enough, there was some consideration given to having X-23 be a teen instead of an 11-year-old.
While promoting 20th Century Fox's R-rated superhero film, director James Mangold explained why he ultimately went with a younger X-23. "There was some talk from the studio, some people did wonder whether—it wasn't really about working longer hours—I think some people had trouble understanding how an 11-year-old could be deadly," he told Collider. "Being a father of a 9 and 12-year-old, I have no problem understanding how an 11-year-old can be deadly. I felt that if we got into the teenage years of X-23, it would feel like a CW show. And the X-Men movies have done a lot of young characters with adults playing these parts. I wanted to confront Logan with what he was most frightened of, which was the idea of being a dad. A real dad, not to an unruly teenager, but to a child."
Mangold also offered up another reason in a separate interview with Nerdist. "And I wanted to avoid the standard trap, which has been done successfully elsewhere, of that very attractive 19 year old actress in a hot uniform," he said. "We've seen that. I wanted something more interesting."
To help bring Mangold's vision for Logan to life, the award-winning concept design and visual effects studio Aaron Sims Creative (ASC) was brought in to work on character designs for Old Man Logan, Charles Xavier, Caliban, and X-23. And since the team of artists at ASC — consisting of Aaron Sims, Steffen Reichstadt, and Eve Ventrue — started on the project early in pre-production, they were tasked with exploring designs for a teenage X-23.
Check out our interview with two of ASC's talented conceptual artists.
Director James Mangold mentioned in a recent interview that there was some consideration to make X-23 a teen instead of a 11-year-old girl, so these designs are of the teenage version of X-23?
Steffen Reichstadt: Yes, our original brief was to make her a bit older in her teens. A bit more rebellious feeling. This was a much earlier version of the script though.
Her clothing style in these costume designs appears to be a mix of punk rock and casual, was that the intention?
Steffen Reichstadt: Definitely going for a more edgy feel with the costuming. Punk runaway was the feeling that we were initially asked to portray.
With Hugh Jackman playing an older Wolverine, was it more challenging incorporating elements of the character's signature look?
Steffen Reichstadt: It was a bit difficult to age him up while at the same time keeping the Wolverine feel. We played with the pointed hairdo and the chops and all of that. But it ended up feeling forced. The grittier and more realistic approach ended up working much better in the end.
Since the film is set in the not so distant future, how did that influence the X-23, Logan, and Charles Xavier designs?
Steffen Reichstadt: It did a bit, but the overarching stylistic note from the original brief was to make it feel more like a modern Western as opposed to future sci-fi. So we tried to hit that direction pretty hard with the feeling of the heavy coats and haggard bodies.
As for Caliban, were you going for an alien-like vibe?
Steffen Reichstadt: We weren't going for alien as much as really trying to push the heavy mutant features. But for the final feeling of the film I think they made the right call to pull it back and make him more human as it makes it more believable with the tone they established.
Could you describe your approach to X-23?
Eve Ventrue: At the time I got the brief for Laura, I wanted her to be a rebellious teenage girl who appears tough and strong-minded. I played around with some outfits from the Gothic and Punk scene that would fit her character best and also tested some concepts that would be practical for fighting. She really should make a prominent appearance on screen.
And how did you go about designing Old Man Logan?
Eve Ventrue: For Old Man Logan, I was sure we would see just an older version of Wolverine, not a completely different face or clothing style. We all know Wolverine as a fiery character, so only practical and light clothing would match his character; like muscle shirts and leather. When doing the first costume designs, I assumed that his personal style wouldn't change much compared with his younger version so I tried to keep it simple and clean – his striking personality would stand for itself and not need any elaborate and fancy design.
Logan stars Hugh Jackman (Logan), Boyd Holbrook (Donald Pierce), Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier), Dafne Keen (Laura Kinney/X-23), Stephen Merchant (Caliban), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gabriela), and Richard E. Grant (Dr. Zander Rice).
James Mangold (The Wolverine) directed, based on a screenplay he co-wrote with screenwriters Scott Frank and Michael Green.
Logan is now playing!