What does Logan mean for the X-Men film universe?
Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine for the last time - and it could have a big impact on upcoming films in the superhero franchise
Dystopic superhero thriller Logan has clawed its way to release in UK cinemas this week, with Hugh Jackman’s last hurrah as rapid-healing mutant Wolverine earning rave reviews across the board (including from our own critic).
However, the film ends leaving the rest of the X-Men film universe in a bit of a limbo, bringing decades of continuity to an end while still hinting at future movies that could extend the franchise further.
With that in mind, we’re asking a few questions about the future of the X-Men movies – and whether we really have seen the last of Wolverine on screen.
Are Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart leaving the X-Men franchise?
Hugh Jackman has now been playing Wolverine for nearly 18 years, with many young cinemagoers never living in a world where he wasn’t onscreen as the deadliest Canadian of all time (bizarre as that may seem).
Accordingly, then, it seems fair that Jackman has decided to hang up his muttonchops, with the actor long saying that Logan would be his final hurrah as Wolverine – and now he’s been joined by Professor X actor Patrick Stewart, who’s played his own character for just as long as Jackman and recently revealed he was also X-iting the franchise after this instalment.
“It’s only been a few days, it was watching the world premiere in Berlin exactly a week ago that… sitting beside Hugh watching him say goodbye I realized there will be no more perfect time to say au revoir, adios, goodbye to this franchise than this, I’m very content," Stewart told Fox News.
In other words it’s goodbye to Wheels and Claws.
So we’ll never see Wolverine and Professor X again?
Well, not necessarily – because Stewart and Jackman’s exits don’t necessarily mean their characters won’t be seen on screen again. Obviously Professor X has already been played as a younger man by James McAvoy (pictured) for three films now (crossing over with Stewart’s incarnation in the second, Days of Future Past), and rumour has it he’ll be back to play the chrome-domed telepath in the upcoming New Mutants movie (of which, more later).
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Meanwhile there are no public plans to recast Wolverine as of yet, but given the character’s popularity and central role in the X-Men’s world it seems inevitable 20th Century Fox will eventually bite the adamantium bullet and find someone else to play Logan (even if it’s just a younger version).
Sure, given Jackman’s iconic performance it might seem like heresy now, but in a world where Han Solo has been recast we’d say anything’s possible.
But won’t we already know what happens to them?
A key detail, this – Logan takes place some time after the events of the previous X-Men films, as director James Mangold didn’t want to be too beholden to their continuity.
“There’s an epilogue scene in Days of Future Past which is 2024, or 2023, something like that,” Mangold told ComicBook.com. “I just wanted to get far enough past. My goal was real simple: It was to pick a time where I had enough elbow room that I was clear of existing entanglements.”
So technically any X-Men film set in the present day or earlier will still be headed towards the events of Logan, perhaps putting the kibosh on certain ideas. Then again, it could be that the filmmakers won’t worry too much about this too much, as the X-Men films have quite merrily torn up their own continuity in years past.
So overall, what does Logan mean for future X-Men films?
Currently, there are several films in development that are tied into the X-Men movie franchise – Deadpool 2, New Mutants, Gambit, X-Men: Supernova and X-Force (though the latter two are at very early stages without any stars or directors attached, or even a confirmed script).
However, as noted above it seems likely that these films will be set prior to Logan (if not in a different timeline altogether, confusingly), so there probably won’t be too much tie-in to the final adventures of Wolverine.
With that said, Logan’s subplot about a group of young mutants finding their way to safety isn’t a million miles away from the New Mutants’ central idea of the “next generation” of mutant heroes following in the X-Men’s footsteps, so it’s possible that director Josh Boone’s film could continue to follow some of these themes, if not the characters themselves.
Still, it's more likely that Logan will inspire future X-Men films in a less direct way by proving that standalone, R-rated superhero films on a small scale really do work (a lesson already demonstrated by low-budgeted smash hit Deadpool), and so we could be seeing yet more one-off, character-based spin-offs in the works.
We might even be seeing this “Logan bounce” play out already in Channing Tatum’s Gambit film, which has been stuck in development for a while but has just this week been announced to start shooting early next year – just as Logan is getting extremely positive buzz.
On that theme, Wolverine protégé X-23/Laura (played by Dafne Keen, pictured, in Logan) would seem an obvious character to follow in future films given Keen's terrific performance and popularity with audiences thus far. She's also a bit of a Wolverine substitute in that she shares his abilities, which wouldn't hurt given Jackman's departure from the franchise.
But what about the main X-Men films?
While Wolverine won’t be turning up in them any more, there are apparently still plans for core X-Men films following on from 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Rumour has it that the aforementioned X-Men: Supernova is due to begin production in Montreal later this year, but there are currently no real details about who will direct or star in the film, or even what it’ll be about.
Some fans think it may revolve around Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey (pictured) and the classic comic-book storyline Dark Phoenix (already somewhat adapted in 2003’s X-Men: The Last Stand), but as of yet there are no details kicking around, and no confirmation that series leads Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy or Jennifer Lawrence will return (notably, Lawrence has previously said Apocalypse would be her last film).
So if Supernova doesn’t materialise it could be that New Mutants will serve as a “main” X-Men film instead, especially if the rumours about McAvoy’s involvement turn out to be true. Hell, even the younger X-Men from Apocalypse could turn up in it – we just don’t know.
But Wolverine’s definitely gone for good?
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the first X-Men film
Barring a massive change of heart from Jackman, it seems likely that Logan really will be the last we see of his version of the character, after over 17 years appearing at least once in every X-Men film (though he was just a print-out mask in Deadpool).
It’s sad to see him go, but times move on – and given the amount of X-Men filmmaking still to come our way, it seems like there’ll still be plenty for fans to enjoy.
Logan is showing in UK cinemas now