If Logan’s astounding weekend gross is anything to go off of, chances are that you and just about everybody you know has already seen the movie. The film took in a staggering $254 million global gross. Despite its R rating – which it more than earns by skewering, dismembering and slashing the faces off every bad guy in sight – my opening night screening was packed with families and young children, because Logan is an event as much as it is a movie: the end of an entire generation’s idea of who the X-Men are and a passing of the torch from one Wolverine to another.
When the credits faded and the house lights came up, though, I was left with the unsettling notion that something wasn’t right. Between the tragedy and viscera, I had missed something. And it didn’t strike me until I was sitting in my car and on my way home again: Laura Kinney – the two-clawed Wolverine that all the fuss in the movie is over – is an eleven-year-old girl.
Now, this isn’t a “think of the children” rant against the young and impressionable being put into harms way on the big screen. This isn’t about what’s age-appropriate or “lady-like.” As far as I’m concerned, Laura’s the best female action heroine since Furiosa and Hollywood would do well to give us more characters like them.
My revelation wasn’t aimed at her psyche, but her physiology. The unspoken implication of the movie’s basic premise is that Laura is about as screwed as movie characters come these days.
Over the course of Logan’s 137-minute narrative, we watch the title character slowly – painfully – die from adamantium poisoning. Despite his inhuman healing factor, the metal that coats his entire skeleton is finally wearing him down: twisting the once proud Mutant into a debilitated wretch.
The trademark metal is killing him. His healing factor has slowed to a near-useless crawl. He doesn’t eat. He doesn’t sleep. He’s nearly blind and his lungs are raw from constantly trying to hack them up. He’s weak, tires quickly and his claws don’t even come out like they’re supposed to anymore. He is rotting away from the inside, and there is absolutely nothing that he can do about it.
And the exact same metal is in Laura. Born from his stolen DNA, she is his biological daughter. And other than an engendered quirk of having only two claws in each hand (and one on each foot), her powers are identical to his. She heals like him, punches like him and, invariably, will die like him. Considerably younger than him, too.
Although Wolverine lived to the ripe old age of 197, he had his adamantium surgery in 1979: at the age of 147. Laura – who is, again only 11 – appears to be a couple of years post-op already, cutting her life expectancy down even further. If she survives the procedure for as long as her father did, she’ll be in the ground by the age of 61: probably sooner. Even today, most Humans will outlive her – and certainly have a far better quality of life.
And while tragic, that’s not even the worst part about what Transigen – the evil multinational corporation that created Laura – has done to her. Like Logan, Laura has had her entire skeleton grafted with Adamantium: an indestructible metal that makes her nearly impervious to harm. The key word in that description, however, is “indestructible.” It doesn’t bend, doesn’t break, doesn’t grow, doesn’t stretch.
Laura is still a growing girl, with growth spurts and puberty just a few years ahead of her. Yet her bones are fixed in unbreakable cages. If they even grow at all, her bones will lock into an endless cycle of growing, breaking and mending: a process undoubtedly as painfully debilitating as adamantium poisoning. Even if they simple stunt her growth, she’ll be eternally a child: the Mutant equivalent of those pugs they forcibly infantilize by keeping them locked in undersized cages to prevent them from getting any bigger.
For the few remaining mutants in this dystopic future, things are obviously bad: not Days of Future Past bad, but definitely above the already shitty curve set by Humans in this particular franchise. Laura, however, undoubtedly has it worst of all.