2017 is proving to be an emotional year for X-Men fans, with both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart bowing out of the X-Men franchise in a heart-breaking finale. Wolverine's story has come to a beautifully poignant end, one rich in symbolism and emotional depth. It truly looks as though we've seen the last of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine.
Or does it? In an intriguing interview with Variety, Hugh Jackman gave an interesting hint that he may well reconsider - given the right circumstances...
Last year, superhero fans rejoiced over the distinctive, comic-book-accurate and seriously irreverent Deadpool. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool proved that the superhero genre can embrace a far wider range of creativity, tone, and style than we've ever seen before — and fans loved it. It didn't take star Ryan Reynolds long to start a public appeal for a #Wolverine and #Deadpool team-up.
At first glance, you'd expect this to be a non-starter; #HughJackman has made it clear for years that he's retiring from the X-Men franchise. But Jackman's not actually ruled it out:
“I’m hesitating, because I could totally see how that’s the perfect fit. But the timing may be wrong.”
Now, let's face it, watching Logan you can see why Jackman feels that this should be his last #XMen movie. But that statement - that he's "hesitating" - is pretty key. To be sure, this is a long way from saying he's up for popping his claws in an actual team-up movie, but it's a notable change in the tone of Jackman's comments about the future. It suggests that, should Fox put together the right pitch — and this team-up may well be the right pitch — then he's open to reconsidering his retirement.
Interestingly enough, in an interview with We Got This Covered director James Mangold made the same point:
"I think for Hugh, part of the power of what we did is the finality of what we did. So, at least at this point, talking about going back on it without knowing why or for what reason [would be silly]. I don’t know though, maybe if some brilliant thing came along, like appearing as a memory in someone else’s movie? Who knows what it could be?"
So, however final Logan may be at first glance, if Fox put together a strong pitch? Who knows...
Why Is Hugh Jackman Retiring as Wolverine?
With that Instagram post, published way back in March 2015, Hugh Jackman made it clear that he intended Logan to be the last time he played the role of Wolverine. In countless interviews since then, he's explained it; a recurrent theme has simply been that it felt like the right time, especially after 17 years of the gruelling diets he puts himself through in order to have the muscle-tone of the brutal superhero.
Logan looks to be the perfect send-off for the character, promising to be a touching father-daughter passing of the torch. Over in the comics, the character of X-23 has actually taken over as the All-New Wolverine; Logan introduces Dafne Keen as X-23, and by all accounts, the critics love her.
But the question of timing is one that's beginning to trouble Jackman, who was actually willing to take on a pay-cut in order to get Logan the R-rating he felt the film needed. It's clear that Deadpool's success has emboldened Fox — Logan has an aesthetic unlike every other superhero film Fox has ever made, while Josh Boone's New Mutants promises to be a young-adult supernatural thriller! The studio is taking an increasingly experimental approach with the superhero genre, and that has to be attractive to an actor like Hugh Jackman.
Added to that, Reynolds is clearly pulling on Jackman's heartstrings. Jackman has always been open about his love of the fan community — back in 2015, he even drew the fans into the build-up for Logan in a pretty touching way:
Ryan Reynolds clearly has the fans on his side, and that has to be catching Jackman's attention.
It's pretty clear that only one thing could cause Jackman to return to the X-Men franchise: a pitch that he considered absolutely solid, and wanted to do. As far back as 2013, while interviewing in the run-up for X-Men: Days of Future Past, he told the Belfast Telegraph:
"For me, and I’m well aware there’s way greater powers at play than me and my decision, it’s more about: Do I still have something to offer to it? Is there something different we can explore? Is there a reason to tell another story? Without that, I won’t do it.”
It's not enough to say 'Deadpool and Wolverine team-up'. Fox need to develop a strong, creative and distinctive pitch, one that — like Logan — treads new ground. The good news is, with Logan and New Mutants blazing a trail for the future of the X-Men franchise, that kind of experimental, genre-redefining approach may well be one the studio is up for.
Right now, we know that Logan is probably going to be Hugh Jackman's last appearance as Wolverine. The reality is, though, that this is just a 'probably'. If Fox can put together the right approach, they may well be able to persuade him to stick around. And who knows? We might just get that Wolverine and Deadpool team-up after all.