Ryan Reynolds shocked the world by announcing that Hugh Jackman will return as Wolverine in the MCU’s first Deadpool movie, and while a majority of fans are over the moon to hear that they’ll finally get to see the Merc with a Mouth meet his mutant man-crush, some are concerned Marvel shouldn’t touch Jackman’s legacy as Wolverine.
For reference, 2017’s Logan brought about the emotional and impactful death of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and implied that the mantle would be passed down to his daughter, Dafne Keen's Laura. The film is considered one of the best comic book movies ever, and much of that is due to the original story it told where it wasn’t afraid to kill the main character.
As the MCU now looks to add another chapter to a book that was presumed finished, this has caused some fans to advocate against Wolverine’s return in an attempt to preserve the legacy that was cemented by Logan.
Despite this, Marvel has several examples of how they can get Wolverine’s return right without affecting anything that fans already love about Hugh Jackman’s character—and it may be easier than many are saying.
MCU Retcons Incoming for Jackman’s Wolverine?
The fact of the matter is there are several iterations of Wolverine’s story throughout the 20 years of Fox’s X-Men movies as they tweaked and twisted his roots through constant course corrections, so this isn’t the first time the character is being used against his initial intention.
The live-action Wolverine from X-Men films has always had moving parts in his story that the studio expected audiences to get on board with, including multiple origin stories and endlessly changing subplots, so it’s a bit bizarre that getting more Wolverine in a movie with Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool is the decision that’s gotten the most pushback from fans.
This is especially odd when considering there’s so much unexplained time in Wolverine’s life that could be explored in the MCU. For those concerned about Deadpool 3 messing with the linear story of Logan’s life that ended in his last movie, let’s not forget how Deadpool 2 ended—Wade Wilson is traveling back in time to fix all of his biggest mistakes when he runs into Wolverine.
Deadpool 3 will likely happen before the events of Logan on whatever timeline they’re on (that is, if they’re even connected at all). And although Deadpool 2 opened with a fourth-wall-breaking direct reference to Wolverine’s death in Logan, the movie does take place in 2018–almost ten years before the death of Wolverine.
Does the MCU Have to Follow Fox?
Confused yet? That’s a common theme with the X-Men movies that came from Fox. Just when discussing Logan and Deadpool 2 (which came out just one year apart), many fans’ heads begin to spin.
In essence, the X-Men movies were never good with their cinematic timelines, which is why Reynolds and Jackman posted a follow-up video a day after their big announcement to clarify that Logan took place in the year 2029, seemingly acknowledging that that’s too far in the cinematic universe’s timeline for Deadpool 3 to follow and will therefore have to precede it.
The MCU seems to be catching back up with the real-world calendar after the five-year jump in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame; most MCU projects since then have hovered around the 2024-2025 timeframe. Deadpool 3 is believed to be scheduled for release in September 2024, so unless the Regenerating Degenerate starts jumping into the future instead of the past, Wolverine’s MCU debut will likely still be long before the events of Logan in 2029.
Lots of Gaps in Wolverine’s On-Screen Story
Catching up with an old and withered Wolverine in Logan after being used to seeing him much younger created a rather ambiguous gap in the mutant’s life that fans still speculate about today. One silver lining here is that now there’s plenty of room in the sandbox for Marvel Studios to come in and build on the Wolvy story a bit more before his it reaches his death in 2029.
Plus, Hugh Jackman’s return largely increases the odds of finally seeing him put on that yellow-and-black Wolverine cowl for the first time—something that the dozen Fox films that featured Weapon X never delivered to its fans. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
Nevertheless, some fans are still worried that adding anything to Wolverine’s story after closing it with such an emotional send-off would tarnish Logan’s legacy. For those who share that sentiment, rest assured that the MCU has been in this position before.
Marvel Studios has used the deaths of many beloved characters as jumping-off points (sometimes literally) for new stories by using those same characters that had already perished.
MCU Mainstays That Had to Die First
For instance, if Marvel hadn’t brought Bucky Barnes back from beyond the grave in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then fans would’ve missed out on arguably one of the greatest MCU stories ever told when he became The Winter Soldier. Bucky has been an MCU staple for the better part of a decade, and that wouldn’t have been possible without Marvel killing him first.
Another example is the death of Gamora, which served as one of the most pivotal and emotional moments of Avengers: Infinity War. The scene was as heartbreaking as it was crucial to the plot of the movie, and the Twitter world turned into a week-long Gamora memorial as fans came to terms with the impact Marvel created with that moment.
Gamora returned to the screen a year later, but little-to-no complaints were made because it made sense to the story being told. No depth is taken away from her sacrifice in Infinity War just because a Multiverse variant of her is in the MCU now; the impact of Gamora’s death is still felt today, even after the character returned to the screen.
Most similar to Deadpool 3’s situation, though, is Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff paid the ultimate price in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, yet she still got her own solo movie when 2021’s Black Widow explored a personal story about the hero that took place 8 years before her death.
The prequel introduced important MCU players like Natasha’s sister Yelena and her dad Red Guardian, and a new MCU subplot with Widows going worldwide. That’s a lot of bulk to add to a dead character’s legacy, but now audiences will follow Natasha’s family and have an even stronger legacy to look back on because of it.
If the fans against Jackman’s return still aren’t convinced after seeing how many ways the MCU can use death as a catalyst for a good story, then they probably didn’t enjoy the box-office hit last Christmas that brought 20 years’ worth of Spider-Man films together on one screen.
Spider-Man Paved the Way for Wolverine
Marvel showed its incredible ability to take a character from outside their own universe and place them in the MCU when Spider-Man: No Way Home brought villains like Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and Jaime Foxx’s Electro to the same screen alongside Tom Holland’s iconic wall-crawler.
Almost all the villains in No Way Home died in the last films they were seen in, yet they were all used in a unique story about the Marvel Multiverse, without affecting the original universes they came from at all, apparently.
More so, the movie also added emotional depth to Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s respective Spider-Men—especially the latter. Without Garfield’s Peter Parker appearing in the MCU, fans wouldn’t know that he hit a rough patch that made him a much darker Spider-Man than the one fans saw in The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2.
Including Andrew Garfield in the MCU didn’t tarnish the emotional moments of his own Spider-Man film franchise; in fact, No Way Home is even an impactful follow-up to Gwen Stacey’s death that left fans in tears.
How Will Jackman's Wolverine Arrive?
The MCU has spent a good chunk of Phase 4 utilizing the Multiverse to deliver some amazing moments to fans, including multiple Spider-Men and John Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic, so there’s a good chance Hugh Jackman will step into the MCU from another one of Marvel’s Multiversal portals.
However, it’s likely Wade Wilson will be the one to blame for bringing Wolvy here, especially if he's still on his time-traveling joyride. Speaking of time, and depending on how much damage Deadpool is doing to his timeline, he may draw some unwanted attention from Kang the Conqueror, since every universe will have its own version of him now.
Don't forget this is Ryan Reynolds, though. Perhaps he’ll fly to Japan to track down the metal-clawed mutant the old-fashioned way, or maybe he'll just break the fourth wall to tell everyone Wolverine's inclusion is just because he looks like Hugh Jackman. Regardless of how Wade runs into Jackman's Wolves in the MCU, his legacy is safe with the powerful story that movies like Logan told.
Deadpool 3 is rumored to release on September 6, 2024.