Fox producers are expecting Kevin Feige to recast Wolverine for the MCU. Disney currently expects to complete their Fox acquisition by June, at which point they'll take ownership of the bulk of Fox's film and TV empire. Disney CEO Bob Iger has already confirmed that the X-Men and Fantastic Four will be handed back to Marvel Studios, to become part of the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This is possibly the biggest challenge Marvel has ever faced. It won't be a simple matter to add the X-Men into the MCU; if mutants have always been there, why haven't there been any hints of their existence in the MCU to date? And if they've only just appeared on the scene, why is that the case? This has the potential to radically alter the shape of the MCU, which until now has been oriented around just two strands, the Avengers and Marvel Cosmic.
At a recent Television Critics Association panel (via Slash Film), Lauren Shuler Donner - a producer of every X-Men film since the year 2000 - was asked whether she expected Feige to recast the iconic role of Wolverine. "Yes," she responded simply. "I don’t know what Kevin’s thinking honestly. I don’t even think Kevin knows. I think Kevin’s still dealing with this wealth of characters and trying to make sense of them." She's probably right, in that the scale of the challenge will undoubtedly be intimidating Marvel right now. What's more. Marvel won't be able to make plans that are too concrete either, for fear of annoying regulators and causing legal problems for the acquisition.
But Donner clearly doesn't expect Feige to try to talk Hugh Jackman into coming back. For one thing, as she explained, she thinks Jackman is wise to have bowed out.
"Yes, because Hugh, just the physicality of it all, just to bulk up. This man worked so hard to bulk up, would get up at four in the morning to bulk and eat protein meals every two hours because his natural state, they used to call him Worm when he was a kid. So his natural state is a very skinny guy. Once you reach a certain age, the body just won’t go anymore. I think he was wise to say, 'I’m at that point. I can’t do it.' Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t come back as older Wolverine. You never know. Future Wolverine, you never know."
As hard as it is to imagine Hugh Jackman ever being given the nickname "Worm," Donner is right. Although Jackman isn't exactly a proponent of method acting, he does attempt to get the physicality of every role just right. He performed rigorous training regimens in order to get in shape for playing Wolverine, becoming more ripped with each film. He'd train from early in the morning, and then shoot through the rest of the day; there were occasions where Jackman only got five or six hours' worth of sleep due to the stress of it all. His entire diet would be changed to allow him to reach, and sustain, the body he wanted. It's easy to forget that Hugh Jackman is a 50-year-old man, and the human body isn't meant to change shape at the speed he demanded it to. There comes a point when a regimen like this just isn't healthy.
Of course, the reality is that Fox producers most certainly won't be in the loop as to Feige's latest thoughts. But Donner is an experienced figure who's worked closely with Feige in the past, and the logic of her argument is sound. It looks as though Hugh Jackman's time as Wolverine truly is at an end.
Sources: Slash Film
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019