Director James Mangold's The Wolverine came as something of a surprise hit when it was released in July 2013. Following actor Hugh Jackman's less-than-stellar turn in the previous Wolverine film, Mangold helped breathe life into Logan that held more in line with how the character had been portrayed in the comics. Bottom line: Mangold's near Homeric tragedy set in Japan, with plenty of adamantium-fueled action, was enough of a commercial success to warrant a third film.
Wolverine 3 is already set to begin filming in early 2016, with Mangold, Jackman, and Patrick Stewart all on board for the new feature. In past films of the X-Men franchise, the relationship between Wolverine and Professor X has always bordered on a sort of familial intimacy, which is exactly what Jackman reportedly hopes to explore further in his swan-song performance as the titular character.
In a recent interview with Collider, Jackman spoke as to the creative direction the new film is taking. Although the script is only partially completed, the actor had plenty to say regarding Stewart's importance in the new film, stating:
"Patrick does figure in it, that’s for sure. I think it’s a really important relationship, but I want to see signs of that quasi-father/son sort of relationship that has not been seen before, and sides of particularly Professor X that have not been seen before. So we have some really, really cool ideas."
Making sure that the script is just right is of primary importance at present, but Jackman did express his determination to fulfill obligations set by the already announced shooting schedule, remarking:
"The ultimate plan is let’s start shooting next year… I’m starting the training, I’m starting the eating and mentally really preparing for it. It’s not just me, [but] the studio as well, [and] I’m trying to do something with this that’s a little special, a little different. I’ve got a very, very strong idea of what that is. I really have known for quite a long time how I want to finish this sort of odyssey that I’ve been on, this amazing journey, and I won’t let it fall anywhere in between. I won’t fall short of it."
According to Jackman's remarks, Wolverine fans can expect the new film to begin production shortly, with a final release in 2017 at the earliest (and 2018 if development runs a little long). When the film finally sees its theatrical release, fans may well be treated to an intimate father-son story between the man formerly known as James Howlett and his token father figure, Charles Xavier.
Given Stewart's recent comments regarding a different interpretation of his character in Mangold's new film, the latest may well offer some surprising elements for fans who have become so familiar with the characters as they have been portrayed across so many different films. As for fans of the comics, there's likely to be plenty of source material that Mangold and Jackman are well aware of and likely to pull from in their construction of a climactic superhero finale, and what will reportedly be the last time Jackman dons the adamantium claws.
Deadpool will see theatrical release on February 12th, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016; Gambit on October 7th, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3rd, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9th, 2017; and an untitled X-Men project on July 13th, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.