It's not yet official but Hugh Jackman's Wolverine will absolutely return to the big screen next year in at least one of Twentieth Century Fox's three X-Men movies with 2016 release dates. X-Men: Apocalypse picks up a decade after the events of 2014's record-setting X-Men: Days of Future Past and will follow the X-Men: First Class cast along with new additions taking on the roles of original X-Men movie characters Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm, among others.
Some of those others' could very well be the headlining characters of the other two X-Men movies coming in 2016: Deadpool (in February, starring Ryan Reynolds) and Gambit (in October, starring Channing Tatum). This pair of films represents the first non-Wolverine solo character movies from Fox, a studio which is putting their Marvel Comics properties at the top of their release slate going forward. After 2016 for instance, the trend continues in 2017 with a sequel to the unreleased Fantastic Four and a third movie for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine.
While not yet signed for Apocalypse or another Wolverine as far we know, Jackman (who takes it one movie at a time) is working on the story for the untitled Wolverine 3 with James Mangold (who directed 2012's The Wolverine) and is hoping to shoot both projects back-to-back so it's easier for him and his demanding workout regiment. It's also easier for the sake of story connections of which Jackman essentially confirmed there will be plenty.
The third Wolverine is an interesting project since it could very well be the last outing for Hugh Jackman as the fan-favorite Wolverine, but with an untitled X-Men project scheduled for 2018, the future is unclear. What we do know is that X-Men: Apocalypse will be the biggest X-Men movie to date with the most X-Men characters ever, and it's coming the same year two other lead-worthy X-Men characters characters get their own films so perhaps the studios and Jackman are getting ready to pass the torch.
Or perhaps not...
If you thought X-Men: Days of Future Past would be the last time you'd see the main original X-Men movie characters, with original actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan as Professor X and Magneto, respectively, you were wrong. Speaking with Oregon Live last week for his new film Match, Stewart revealed that his role as the founder of the X-Men isn't quite over. He re-confirms that he will not be in X-Men: Apocalypse but his long-time friend, McKellan, will be. Instead, Stewart teases, he's in talks to co-star in a Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman.
The obvious assumption is that he's referring to Mangold's followup to The Wolverine and it's very fitting if that's the case given how that film ends. Logan comes to terms with his role in society and finds new meaning in life. He refers to himself as a "soldier" and won't live in fear and isolation anymore since he can put his abilities and experience to use. That thematic ending was followed up by a mid-credits button scene which featured Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan recruiting him.
Even though that fun scene was designed to (confusingly) setup X-Men: Days of Future Past, since X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in the altered timeline version of the '80s, we still have a present day or near future Wolverine looking to serve as a hero once again. So, if Wolverine 3 teams Logan with Professor X, it's possible that the story isn't the end of the character's journey after all. In fact, it could very well be setting up the next X-Men movie for 2018 which fans are hoping is an adaptation of X-Force.
A script by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) is already complete for an X-Force movie and we've always heard that it would include Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds Deadpool and three other characters as a five-person team. Perhaps old Professor X helps set that up or at least, helps instruct Wolverine on becoming more of a leader.
For X-Men comics fans, there's also a chance the next Wolverine movie may see Jackman finally suit up in one of his iconic comics costumes. Mangold had a yellow outfit made for The Wolverine that can be seen on the special features of the home video release and Jackman very much wants to suit up on it.
What do you want to see in the next Wolverine adventure and should it be the end of Jackman's X-Men career or do you want him to stick around for the long haul now that Fox is making Marvel movies 2-3 per year going forward?
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, Gambit on October 7 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.
Source: Oregon Live (hat tip Steve K)