When Wolverine 3 slashes its way into theaters next year, it will signal the end to both the Wolverine trilogy and Hugh Jackman's time in the role. Thus far, the franchise has been a mostly bloodless PG-13 series aimed at a wider general audience - something that's changing thanks in large part to the success of the R-rated Deadpool earlier this year.
Logan has battled his fair share of great cinematic villains across the first two movies: General Stryker, Sabertooth, The Silver Samurai and others all had memorable battles against the Canucklehead, but if the rumors released earlier hold true, then he's going to have his claws full battling a truly vicious set of villains in Wolverine 3 - the Reavers.
Fans of The Uncanny X-Men series will immediately recognize the Reavers and what their introduction could potentially mean to the X-Men universe, but general audiences have most likely never heard of them before now. So let's talk a bit about the Reavers, who they are, where they come from and where this could potentially take the story of future X-Men instalments for years to come.
Where Did They Come From?
The Reavers were originally a straightforward group of cybernetically-enhanced thieves, whose hideout was located in an abandoned Australian mining town called Cooterman's Creek. Created by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri, the original group known as The Reavers made their first appearance in The Uncanny X-Men #133. However, the version of the team readers are most familiar with didn't debut until issue #229 in 1988.
After their ranks had been diminished during a battle with the X-Men, former Hellfire Club member Donald Pierce (known as The White Bishop) stepped in, rounded up their remaining members, refitted them with advanced cybernetics and set them loose on a hate-filled vendetta against the X-Men - with a specific bloodlust for Wolverine. The fabric of the The Reavers' origins are are tightly woven with The Hellfire Club. Besides Pierce, the team also consisted of three former Club members who were turned into cyborgs - Macon, Cole and Reese.
Pierce rounded out the creation of his deadly gang of cyborg outlaws with the addition of Lady Deathstrike, who purposefully transformed herself in a cyborg with the help of Spiral (herself a six-armed cyborg) - an origin that was altered significantly in X2: X-Men United.
What Do They Want?
The motivations behind the Reavers vary depending on which alternate reality you're talking about. During the original timeline, they simply wanted revenge on the X-Men and their hate was fueled by Pierce's disdain for humankind. They would viciously attack and/or destroy anyone that might come between them and their goals. Their passionate loathing for mutants, specifically Wolverine, is so great that they once attacked the Muir Island Research Center just because they thought he might be there.
During the "Messiah Complex" event, one of the better story runs involving the Reavers, the team is featured as an elite commando unit (former Purifiers - terrorists who despise mutants) who have assigned themselves the task of hunting down and eliminating mutants. Led by Lady Deathstrike, they eventually corner Cable in Canada. While Cable is severely injured during the battle, they are essentially killed off by Wolverine and his new X-Force team.
In the alternate reality Earth-295 ("Age of Apocalypse"), the Reavers are once again under the control of Donald Pierce but their origins have been altered slightly. Instead of receiving their cybernetics from Pierce, Apocalypse enhances their appearance and powers using his Techno-Organic Virus, then tasks them with preventing humans from using nuclear weapons against him.
The Reavers show up in one more alternate reality, Earth-1610 ("Ultimate Universe"), as a group of modified gladiator cyborgs who, under the leadership of Ultimate Deadpool, hunt down mutants on live television.
Who Are They?
Over the course of time, many members of the Reavers have come and gone. Some due to death, others were arrested, and some even straight up quit the team. However, there are eight names widely considered the most classic, when discussing team membership:
Donald Pierce - Founder/creator/current leader
Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama) - Generally considered second-in-command, motivations unknown
Cole/Mason/Reese - Former Hellfire Club mercenaries who became cyborgs after being severely injured by Wolverine
Bonebreaker - Original leader of the Reavers whose upper torso is mounted to a tank-like chassis instead of legs
Pretty Boy - Original member of the Reavers who can enter people's minds via filaments that extend from his eyes
Skullbuster - Original member of the Reavers with grenade launchers, machine guns, and wrist blades built into its body
What Does This Mean For the Franchise?
Rumors have been been circulating for a long time now that Wolverine 3 will be based on the 5-issue mini-series"Old Man Logan" written by Mark Millar (Huck, Kick-Ass) and drawn by artist Steve McNiven for Wolverine 3. The story arc is arguably one of the best to date featuring Wolverine because of its complex storylines, emotional character development and, of course, plenty of action scenes. Penning a script for such a magnificent piece of work would already be a daunting task, but if these rumors turn out to be true then writer David James Kelly has his work cut out for him.
While the Reavers aren't present in the "Old Man Logan" series, there are plenty of other characters who do make crossover appearances, both in the comics and the current slate of live-action movies - various X-Men (Storm, Psylocke, Jubilee, ect.), Apocalypse, Sabretooth (rumored to be returning), and Mister Sinister, who may show up in the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse - all have the ability to show in in various Fox-made movies.
Because Wolverine 3 is set in a futuristic western-type world beset by all manner of violent villains, it's not an impossible leap to see the Reavers included in this scenario. Take into account their comic book relationship with Deadpool, Cable and X-Force (all who have movies in the works) and it's easy to see why they'd be such a good fit for the franchise going forward. It would also be incredible to see the cover of Uncanny X-Men #251 (drawn by Silvestri) come to life. The scene depicts Wolverine, having been ambushed by the Reavers, nailed to an X in attempt to make him scream in pain - it's truly iconic.
Hopefully the source The Nerdist spoke with regarding the Reavers was doing so from a place of authority and all of this discussion won't turn out to be just conjecture. However, if director James Mangold and Kelly can pull off something extraordinary, then Wolverine 3 could be one of the most interesting comic book movies to date. With rumored appearances by X-23 (the female counterpart to Wolverine), Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, and others, all of the proper pieces are certainly there.
What do you think about the possibility of the Reavers showing up in Wolverine 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
X-Men: Apocalypse will open in U.S. theaters on May 27th, 2016, followed by Wolverine 3 on March 3rd, 2017 and unannounced X-Men film on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12th, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13th, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.