We all know that 2015 will be a fairly epic year for blockbusters, and the stakes are high for every studio and their superhero brands. While Fox will be unveiling their ambitious Fantastic Four reboot that summer, after this May’s release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we won’t see the next installment of their X-Men franchise until 2016 in the form of X-Men: Apocalypse.

Fox is ramping up the marketing push for DoFP, with a slew of new images (along with some new plot details on Apocalypse) and a teasing countdown to the film’s second full-length trailer – not to mention speculation around yet another prominent character’s supposed contribution to the film.

Among DoFP‘s expansive slate of mutants – both familiar and new – the character of Logan, A.K.A. Wolverine, once again played by Hugh Jackman, is front and center, with near-future versions of Prof. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) sending his consciousness back in time to prevent a mortal threat to all their brethren in the form of the mutant-hunting Sentinels.

This basic plot was teased as a mid-credits tag at the end of last year’s The Wolverine, the character’s second standalone spinoff film, directed by Walk the Line‘s James Mangold. This direct lead-in to Days of Future Past has left many fans wondering about the future of this character – Hugh Jackman has noted that recasting is “inevitable” – and whether any further standalone movies are in the cards.

According to Mangold, the answer is yes. Check out his response to a Twitter follower below:

The first (adamantium) stab at a spinoff film, director Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is still largely detested by fans of the X-Men universe, with its over-cooked plot and stupefying approach to fan-favorite character Deadpool. Mangold’s sequel was a vast improvement – for the first two acts, anyway. The film has its flaws, but Jackman’s performance was not one of them – he remains as committed to his signature character as ever, making its box-office success a decent gauge that fans were open to another solo outing.

James Mangold has dropped enigmatic hints about a possible storyline for Wolverine 3 (or maybe it’ll be called The Wolverine 2), but many expected the fate of that project to hinge on the success of Days of Future Past, which, with its estimated production budget north of $200 million (not accounting for distribution and advertising costs), would have to either smash some box office records here in the U.S. or dominate globally to turn a profit.

Mangold’s tweet is by no means an official announcement, but the rough timeline presented may be a strong indication that Fox has a hell of a lot faith in DoFP‘s potential. This could mean that, really, the viability of a third solo Wolvie flick will depend on the reception of Apocalypse. The idea seems to be that DoFP‘s connection to Apocalypse will blow open the potential for alternate timelines and directly influence further spinoffs, such as the mooted X-Force movie, X-Men and Fantastic Four crossover and, logic suggests, Wolverine 3.

The plot details of Apocalypse are still murky at this point, but if everything goes according to plan, we could possibly see our third solo Wolverine movie in 2017.

Stay tuned for more on this as details emerge.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is out in theaters on May 23, 2014. X-Men: Apocalypsewill release in theaters on May 27th, 2016. Wolverine 3 may arrive in 2017 or later.

Source: James Mangold (via CBM)