While shooting X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hugh Jackman - reprising the role of Wolverine for the seventh time - spoke to media visiting the set and admitted that the studio was likely thinking about recasting the star after all this time. Little did Jackman know, or at least, would admit, that he actually was almost recast. It was in the original Days of Future Past plan.
Don't worry, Jackman fans. Those plans didn't mean Hugh Jackman was going to be pushed out just like that. It just meant there'd be two actors playing the different versions of the character and it would have been a neat way to secure another actor in the role for the long-term future.
Let's backtrack. X-Men 1 & 2 director Bryan Singer had the opportunity to return to the series' director's chair and re-team with Twentieth Century Fox and X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner a few years ago when development first began on a prequel titled X-Men: First Class. First Class' initial screenplay by Josh Schwartz was a story about younger versions the original movie's characters.
The film underwent drastic changes from that initial pitch when Singer came aboard with an idea to set First Class in the '60s, but scheduling conflicts meant that the director would have to step aside. Singer stepped into a producer role and brought in Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) to helm the project which ended up successfully revitalizing the franchise with its unique spin and winning back critics.
For his First Class followup, Vaughn wanted to adapt the popular Days of Future Past time-travel story arc from the X-Men Marvel Comics as a way to meet the studio's desire to see some of the original cast (specifically, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan) return while also focusing on the period setting and new, younger cast. Speaking with MTV while promoting Kingsman: The Secret Service - the film he chose to direct instead of Days of Future Past - Vaughn reveals that his story outline also featured Wolverine... but not the one played by Hugh Jackman.
"I had a whole different idea of how X-Men should go. I thought Days of Future Past should be the next one and it'd be set in the '80s. So, when I wrote the treatment, I then wrote Kingsman and got confused about which film I should direct next. I said to Fox, 'Let me do Kingsman now, get somebody else in and we'll do the '70s version, recast Wolverine, and then we do Days of Future Past with the new Wolverine and Hugh [Jackman], and make it the biggest spectacle we've ever seen."
So, what happened?
"That was my idea but Fox, quite rightly so, I mean, you know, they've got a bottom line to look after and went 'no, we're doing it." And Bryan [Singer], it's Bryan's franchise. I think he proved it's his by knocking it out of the park."
Jackman frequently talks about and hints at the inevitable recasting of Wolverine, the most popular of the X-Men movie characters, but the way Jackman was able to play both the "young" and future versions of the character was written smartly into X-Men: Days of Future Past and plays on the idea of the character's partial immortality. Jackman will be returning at least twice more for the Days of Future Past followup X-Men: Apocalypse which begins production in April for a theatrical release next summer. Singer also returns to direct that one, and the following year, Jackman will reprise the role yet again for his third solo outing in the still-untitled Wolverine 3 where the star re-teams with James Mangold (The Wolverine).
Jackman's currently back in his demanding physical workout regiment to get in Wolverine shape for the parts which he hopes will shoot back-to-back (which makes sense given how connected Apocalypse and Wolverine 3 will be). It's possible the third Wolverine is the last of Jackman's career (recasting time?) but we all hope he returns for X-Force which may be slated to come out in 2018 or sooner if Fox decides to greenlight production based on the completed screenplay from Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2).
Are you ready to see someone else sport that adamantium claws or should Jackman stick around as long as possible? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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.
Header image edited from art by Daniel M Chavez.