Marvel Studios shouldn't use Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come - at least until the MCU's Phase 5. Disney's 20th Century Fox acquisition looks like a sure thing right now; the deal is only awaiting approval from a small number of international regulators, after all. As a result, Marvel visionary Kevin Feige has already confirmed that he expects to regain the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises by summer 2019.
But how will Marvel choose to incorporate these new franchises into their shared cinematic universe, without doing damage to the already-established continuity? Attention has been focused on major characters like Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto, but Feige has recently pointed out that there are a lot more characters than that. Fox's library has several non-marquee mutant superheroes that Marvel Studios would like to adapt. It's an important point, and one that hasn't been really considered by the majority of fans; Marvel could quite easily choose to focus on second- or third-tier characters, a pattern they've already been following when building the MCU, with films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and the upcoming Eternals.
Naturally, there'll be intense pressure for Marvel to introduce certain characters - namely Wolverine, the most famous of the X-Men. But here's why Marvel would be wise to hold off on rebooting Wolverine into the MCU for quite some time.
- This Page: Wolverine (And Hugh Jackman) Become A Legacy
- Page 2: No Wolverine Avoids Marvel's Comic Book Mistakes
Wolverine (And Hugh Jackman) Become A Legacy
Hugh Jackman played Wolverine for 17 years, from 2000 to 2017, and he's strongly associated with the role. The Australian actor was a surprise choice when he was picked for the part, and he didn't even know what a wolverine was when he started out. Visually, he looks nothing like the comic book version, who's short, hairy, and has never been considered eye-candy. And yet, Jackman's excellent performance meant he won people over straight away. He's continued to play Wolverine ever since, playing the part in nine different movies to date (including a hilarious cameo in X-Men: First Class). When Jackman finally decided to bow out, Fox wisely decided to make a film centered around Wolverine's death, and Logan is considered one of the strongest movies in the entire X-Men franchise.
All this means that, for Marvel, recasting Wolverine is problematic. They didn't face any real issues when it came to recasting Tom Holland as Spider-Man; after all, there had already been two other big-screen incarnations of the wall-crawler since 2002. Likewise, they have no real issues with some of the other X-Men; two actors have played Professor X, there have been two different portrayals of Magneto, and even characters like Cyclops and Nightcrawler have been played by different people. But Hugh Jackman has stayed on as Wolverine, a constant presence in the X-Men movies, so closely tied to the role that even Fox doesn't seem interested in signing up his replacement. Marvel will face a difficult challenge when it comes to choosing a new actor, simply because everyone will want to compare him to Jackman.
The closest comparison, really, is Blade. Wesley Snipes played Blade the Vampire-Hunter in three tremendously popular movies back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As Kevin Feige himself has acknowledged, Blade was one of the franchises that launched the modern superhero era - all the more amusing as most moviegoers didn't even realize he was a comic book character in the first place. Given Blade's popularity and historic box office success, when Marvel regained Blade's film rights it would have been natural for them to push the antihero as a priority. Instead, Marvel has held off, allowing Blade to become what Feige has called a "legacy character." It's a mark of respect to Snipes and the three Blade films, and it will mean that he will have a massive impact when Marvel do eventually get round to using him. The same would be true of Wolverine; putting the character on pause would allow time for Jackman to become a well-respected memory, with the relaunched version standing as an exploration of his legacy. If Blade is any indication, interest won't lessen with time; it will only increase.
Page 2 of 2: No Wolverine Avoids Marvel's Comic Book Mistakes
- 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