Hot on the heels of the latest X-Men: Apocalypse trailer -- which finally confirms Hugh Jackman's involvement -- production is set to begin any day now on Wolverine 3. The film reunites Jackman with The Wolverine director, James Mangold, and is heavily rumored to draw inspiration (at least in part) from the 'Old Man Logan' story arc. Plus, adding more fuel to the rumor fire, a recent casting call hinted at the potential for an appearance from X-23 -- another successful product of the Weapon X program and potential Wolverine successor for Logan.
Producer Simon Kinberg has also revealed that Wolverine 3 is set in "in the future," which is, admittedly, a vague statement, but it implies Wolverine 3 won't be a direct sequel to The Wolverine -- possibly even taking place far ahead in Fox's X-Men timeline, say after the future events of Days of Future Past. That would align with a story drawing on elements from 'Old Man Logan' -- in particular a Wolverine of advanced age.
Joining Jackman for what is reportedly his final outing as Wolverine, are Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) as the main antagonist and Richard E. Grant as a villainous, mad scientist. Patrick Stewart is also expected to return to his role as Professor Xavier. And today, Deadline learned of another addition to Wolverine 3's cast: co-creator of the original The Office and star of HBO's Hello Ladies, Stephen Merchant.
Probably best known as the frequent collaborator of Ricky Gervais (The Ricky Gervais Show, Life's Too Short, An Idiot Abroad), Merchant's roles often play on his straight delivery and gangly frame. Gamers will undoubtedly recognize Merchant as the voice of Wheatley from Portal 2, the neurotic (if not a little psychotic) personality core that accompanies players throughout the game.
Deadline does not offer any specifics about the nature of Merchant's Wolverine 3 role and there's no indication of its size either. Perhaps he's an assistant to Grant's scientist? A small role, but one that could play to his comedic chops. Or maybe he's playing against type, pushing the boundaries of what audiences expect of him? At this early stage in production, it's hard to say just what his role could be, but Merchant is certainly an interesting, if unexpected, addition.
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 films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12th, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13th, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.