In what has been one of the largest blindsides of major Marvel Studios news, it’s been revealed that Hugh Jackman is returning as Wolverine for the upcoming Deadpool threequel. Naturally, fans are incredibly curious about what this may mean for the upcoming film and with Secret Wars looming, potentially beyond. Arguably the most notable talking point will be what this means for the character of Wolverine as a whole between the Hugh Jackman variant and the hypothetical future version in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the surface-level take would be to assume they’ll bring in a new actor down the road to portray some version of the character, the case can be made for Marvel Studios to actually keep Hugh Jackman in the role for a specific purpose. Let’s take a look at the cases for why and why wouldn’t Jackman become the Earth-616 version of Wolverine.
Why Hugh Jackman Wouldn’t be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Wolverine
There are ample reasons why Hugh Jackman wouldn’t work as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s main timeline Wolverine. While the star has been synonymous with the character for over two decades, Marvel Studios would likely want to make room for a new interpretation of Wolverine. From the get-go, it would create the opportunity for the character of Wolverine to go in a different direction from the “Logan” moniker into predominately James Howlett. It’s certainly not the most important element but is emblematic of Kevin Feige’s potential desire to bring a more comic-inspired version of Wolverine to the big screen. In a world where the X-Men universe of characters will need to be distinct to stand apart from the original film adaptation, removing Wolverine’s “leading man” energy would be an easy place to start. Having Wolverine be the shortest and hairiest version possible would be a welcome change to a number of fans.
With that in mind, having a new actor in the role would provide significantly more creative freedom. Wolverine is someone with a rich history that hasn’t been fully told yet (even with Jackman’s many portrayals of the character) and going with a younger actor would ultimately bring more narrative opportunities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wolverine is one of the most popular characters in the Marvel pantheon and having longevity for the role could be something paramount for Kevin Feige to consider.
In addition, having Hugh Jackman as the mainline version of Wolverine might take away from what could be a compelling multiversal story with his character. Having an actor with the cache of Jackman returning would presumably necessitate a compelling story arc for his character. Returning for at least Deadpool III could open the door for this version of Wolverine to have a new satisfying concluding arc to him that would maybe be muddled by staying in the Marvel Cinematic Universe afterward.
Why Hugh Jackman Would Work at the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Wolverine
Alternativly, Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine could really work within the framework of the main Marvel Cinematic Universe. The main crux of this though would be the notion that the Logan version of the character is more of a supporting character to a different primary Wolverine: Laura Kinney. She has been distinctly popular with fans for a considerable amount of time, especially since Dafne Keen’s portrayal in Logan. In recent years has been seen as a marquee character in X-Men comics as an official Wolverine. Marvel Studios would be smart to at least consider striking while the iron is hot and bring in the currently-17-year-old actress to reprise her role for the long-term future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It would be a massive creative gamble by Marvel Studios to have Laura Kinney be the primary Wolverine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (perhaps their largest creative risk), but it doesn’t feel like it would be completely out of the realm of possibility. It certainly guarantees an entirely new vibe from the X-Men that would be massively different from the original film adaptations by Fox. Jackman’s version of the character loomed large over essentially every project and moving him to a distinctly supporting role would allow different characters to shine on the silver screen. And if there remains a desire to see Logan in his prime, de-aging technology in film continues to advance and seeing what would appear to be a younger Hugh Jackman in action via CGI grows more possible, if it isn’t already.
A second option for bringing in Hugh Jackman is a bit more niche, but would still drum up excitement with fans. A World War Hulk film adaptation has long been rumored to be in the offing, and it’s a film that would feel like a logical endpoint for the character of Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that in mind, some of the most seminal stories for both Hulk and Wolverine that haven’t been adapted is their epic showdown in the comics. And unless there is a surprise casting of a new Wolverine in the relatively new future, Jackman would in theory be the best chance at seeing Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk fight against a Wolverine on the big screen.
With every point and counterpoint to consider, it would be very likely that Hugh Jackman wouldn’t return as Wolverine for any other projects besides Deadpool III (and potentially a cameo role in Avengers: Secret Wars). Jackman is currently 53 years old and presumably wouldn’t want to make that sort of long-term commitment, even if it was for more of a supporting role. In addition, Kevin Feige and company would likely be interested in creating their own take on the character that is distinct from what came before. Even still, it would not be entirely shocking if Marvel Studios decided to make other types of radical and unexpected differences to make their version of the X-Men stand out from the original cinematic versions.