A reboot of X-Men is finally in the works at Marvel Studios, but one big change should be made from 20th Century Fox’s former franchise, allowing Wolverine to have his own journey in the MCU. After Disney’s acquisition of Fox was finalized in 2019, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige teased the introduction of mutant characters from Marvel Comics into the MCU, including the legendary superhero team, the X-Men. While Ms. Marvel and Namor were revealed as mutants in Phase 4, there had been no word of the X-Men until recently, when it was reported that Marvel Studios will soon begin hearing pitches from writers for the MCU’s upcoming X-Men reboot.
20th Century Fox’s now-defunct X-Men franchise introduced mass audiences to many rich and complex characters from Marvel Comics, bringing mutant stories to life on the big screen for two decades. Despite debuting dozens of mutant heroes and villains, Fox paid close attention to only a few core characters, with Hugh Jackman’s James “Logan” Howlett, a.k.a. Wolverine, at the heart of the franchise. While the debut of the X-Men in the MCU is certainly excited, there is even more anticipation to see Jackman’s Wolverine return in 2024’s Deadpool 3, and for Marvel Studios to put a different spin on the MCU’s official Wolverine, perhaps benefiting from separating him from the X-Men.
Wolverine’s Solo Movie Is Already Set Up In The MCU
Hugh Jackman did receive a solo trilogy as Wolverine in Fox’s X-Men franchise, comprising X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine, and Logan. However, Jackman’s clawed mutant was always connected to the X-Men, even being used as the vehicle for the audience to be introduced to the titular team in Fox’s original film, 2000’s X-Men. Wolverine is a prominent member of the X-Men, and other related mutant teams, in Marvel Comics, but he also embarks on many adventures alone, which is something that Marvel Studios can use to their advantage, as Wolverine doesn’t need to be introduced as a member of the team, but should get a solo project first.
A solo project in the MCU featuring Wolverine has surprisingly already been set up in a variety of previous films and TV series, dating back to the beginnings of the MCU. 2008’s The Incredible Hulk saw Bruce Banner undergo an experimental attempt to recreate the MCU’s super-soldier serum, and though this would transform him into the Hulk, this super-soldier serum actually has direct ties to Wolverine. The experiment that grafted adamantium to Wolverine’s skeleton was known as Weapon X, the tenth phase in a much larger operation named Weapon Plus, which started back in World War II with Project: Rebirth – the experiment that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America.
While the Hulk and Captain America’s existences directly set up Wolverine’s MCU future, Phase 4 also introduced several important teases towards the clawed mutant. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuted Madripoor, a popular drinking spot for Wolverine, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness proved that the X-Men exist across the multiverse, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law included several hints at the MCU’s Wolverine. By referencing a “man [fighting] with metal claws in bar brawl,” and having Nikki use make-up brushes to emulate Wolverine’s iconic claws, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law took huge strides in setting up a massive debut for Wolverine in the MCU.
The MCU’s X-Men Needs To Avoid Making Wolverine The Star Again
Despite introducing a huge number of interesting mutant characters in their X-Men franchise, 20th Century Fox didn’t give many a great deal of character development, particularly in the original trilogy that came to an end in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. While the prequel/reboot projects gifted other characters the chance to shine, the original projects focused primarily on Professor X, Jean Grey, and Wolverine, with the latter getting the most attention of all. Hugh Jackman’s legendary portrayal of Wolverine made this palatable, but it was a shame that other characters lost out on important screen-time, especially since Wolverine then went on to get a solo trilogy.
Wolverine and the X-Men have both been confirmed to be coming to the MCU, but Marvel Studios would be smart to initially separate these two entities. For the X-Men’s introduction to the MCU, every member of the team needs to be developed, allowing audiences to become fully invested in the storylines and characters from the get-go. Dropping Wolverine from the team’s roster perhaps means that there won’t be any distraction from the other characters, and their stories can develop naturally. This was seen in Fox’s X-Men: First Class, which allowed lesser-known X-Men characters to get some development without Wolverine stealing focus, so Marvel Studios may repeat this technique.
That’s not to say that Wolverine shouldn’t also come to the MCU, but the mutant hero has many solo stories in Marvel Comics that can be adapted into live-action. Marvel Studios could even gift audiences a true look at Wolverine’s origin story, perhaps helping to heal the wounds left by 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and creating clear connections between Wolverine’s backstory and the wider world of the MCU – specifically the super-soldier serum, the Hulk, and Captain America. In order to avoid repeating past mistakes, this perhaps means other mutant heroes could also be gifted solo projects, potentially setting up each member of the X-Men before bringing the team together.
Wolverine Can Become An X-Men Member Later
Setting up each member of the X-Men team before bringing them together in a crossover project would perfectly mirror Marvel Studios’ technique in setting up the Avengers in the MCU’s Phase 1. While this might take some time, it would give Marvel Studios the opportunity to give much-needed character development and backstories to characters that were severely neglected in Fox’s X-Men franchise. This means that Wolverine could spend some time in the MCU before joining the X-Men, and potentially may not even be a founding member of the team – he wasn’t in Marvel Comics, so perhaps shouldn’t be in the MCU.
There is presumably a version of Wolverine already existing in the MCU’s main continuity (Earth-616), but prior to his introduction, Hugh Jackman is set to reprise his role from Fox’s X-Men franchise in Phase 5’s Deadpool 3. This will not only mark his and Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool’s MCU debuts, but could also see several other X-Men characters reprise their roles, as many heroes are expected to cameo in Deadpool 3. This would be a great opportunity for Marvel Studios to close the book on Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, allowing a new version of the character to be set up in solo projects prior to joining the MCU’s future X-Men team.
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
Marvel Studios is progressing with an X-Men movie. Read More