For Twentieth Century Fox's first X-Men spinoff film outside of the main series, it looked towards star Hugh Jackman and the popular character of Wolverine to launch a new sub-franchise. They took the opportunity to explore Wolverine's dark origins and banked on other not-yet-introduced popular characters from X-Men comics to help bolster the film's appeal - namely Deadpool and Gambit.
In the end, both characters were criminally underused, and despite casting likable talent in Canadian stars Taylor Kitsch and Ryan Reynolds to play Remy LeBeau (Gambit) and Wade Wilson (Deadpool), respectively, the creative decisions behind how they were adapted ultimately added to the long list of problems behind the film.
Like X-Men 3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a check mark in the fail column for the studio so for its followup, The Wolverine, director James Mangold and the studio made sure to clarify it's not a direct sequel, but a "standalone" story. They, like X-Men: Days of Future Past diector Bryan Singer, want to pretend that X3 and Origins didn't really happen, not only because of how poorly they were received among critics compared to the first two X-movies, but because of how they added more problems to the franchise continuity.
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X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters worldwide this week and introduces time travel to the genre, the most convenient of plot devices commonly used in X-Men comics, that Bryan Singer hopes will aid him in "fixing" some of the larger franchise continuity issues. For us, that means Days of Future Past represents a quasi-relaunch of the franchise, bringing back both the core casts of 2011's X-Men: First Class prequel and the original trilogy, and setting everyone on a new direction. From there, the franchise potential is limitless and this is why Fox invested heavily in Days of Future Past and already announced release dates for future followups and spinoffs over the next few years.
For 45 year-old star Hugh Jackman, he's been hinting that his career as the adamantium-laced, hot-tempered hero may soon be coming to an end, saying that he will inevitably be recast. While it's all but officially confirmed that he'll be back for 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse and 2017's untitled Wolverine 3, he says the latter will probably be his "last."
Perhaps because of the epic worldwide press tour he's been on for weeks promoting X-Men: Days of Future Past and the positive response to the film so far from early reactions and reviews, some saying it's the series' best installment to date, his tune is beginning to change.
“At one point, you’re right, I said I was pretty sure [that 'Wolverine 3' would be my last outing in the role]. But I’m less sure as it goes along. Because after seeing this movie, the whole thing feels fresher to me than ever. And during this movie…I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s kind of like a clean slate, so who knows where it’s going to go. As long as I have the passion for it and the fans will have me.”
Seemingly reinvigorated, Jackman is now happily talking about what he's like to do (or do again) in the future as Wolverine and the one big call-out is having another chance at sharing the screen with Deadpool. Of course, a version of Deadpool aka the "Merc with a Mouth" made for the villain of the final showdown in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but as fans know, that wasn't really Deadpool. Jackman knows that too. Here's what he said to IGN:
“We sort of took a pretty strong choice on Deadpool, where we kind of stitched him up. And I love the character of Deadpool and I think that the sort of badass, fast-talking, funny, annoying Deadpool vs Wolverine would still be cool. We’ve sort of done it, but I think we could have done that much better.”
This is the same sentiment shared by star Ryan Reynolds who clearly knew at the time that the onscreen version of Wade Wilson he played wasn't really what fans would want, but he looked towards the bright side in saying that the first Wolverine at least introduce Wade Wilson and gave him a chance at getting a spinoff. Since then, Fox tapped Tim miller to direct a highly praised Deadpool movie script written by Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick but haven't put the film into production yet. Reynolds is still attached so for years everyone involved has simply been waiting for the studios greenlight.
Clearly, Fox is looking for new poster characters to carry the franchise forward once Hugh Jackman steps aside and this is why X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner has made a point of namedropping Gambit as a more likely standalone character to get a film before Deadpool does, with Channing Tatum as the star. Even Bryan Singer mentioned Gambit as a character he wants to bring back for X-Men: Apocalypse (alongside the fan-fave Nightcrawler from X-Men 2) so don't be surprised to see Remy LeBeau in Apocalypse and later getting a spinoff.
As for Jackman's words about fighting Deadpool, that's still in the cards too and if Jackman signs on beyond Wolverine 3, it's possible that the unannounced 2018 mystery project by Fox is an X-Force movie, since the studio already tapped Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) to put together its script. That movie, according to Wadlow, would take elements from the classic and modern X-Force comics and feature a roster of five characters. One of his favorite characters he mentioned to our own Kofi Outlaw is - wait for it - Deadpool. If X-Force happens, expect to see Deadpool and Wolverine in among the top 5 and that would be a marketable launchpad for a solo Deadpool film shortly thereafter, just like X-Men: Apocalypse could be that for Gambit.
Let's just make sure Deadpool doesn't have his mouth shut again, and gets his red and black costume.
For fans, Jackman also mentioned some of his own desires to see Wolverine join up with The Avengers and fight the Hulk and/or Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man.
Bryan Singer directs X-Men: Days of Future Past with newcomers Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy, Boo Boo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Evan Peters, Adan Canto, Josh Helman, Evan Jonigkeit along with returning stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Lucas Till, and Daniel Cudmore.
X-Men: Days of Future Past arrives in U.S. theaters on May 23rd, 2014, followed by Fantastic Four on June 19th, 2015, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and an unspecified Marvel film on July 13th, 2018.
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Wolverine vs. Deadpool video game art by AngryRabbitGmoD