BY MATT TUCK
Wolverine is incoming, and the rumors are at a fever pitch, but we may not see Logan underneath the cowl.
In 2019, Jonathan Hickman all but reinvented the X-Men, and he brought the original Wolverine back to the primary roster sporting a version of his classic yellow and brown costume. Coming in July, that will change. The main X-Men team will get an overhaul, and Logan will not be the team’s Wolverine. Instead, that spot will be filled by the “all-new, all-different” female Wolverine, X-23 herself, Laura Kinney.
Both Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics fall under the same banner with Kevin Feige having the final say on both fronts. That is not a secret. What had made Feige such a great producer is having him meticulously plan every move in the MCU since its inception. Now that he oversees the publishing side as well, it stands to reason that he would time key changes to the comics to precede what we could see on movie screens.
Put the ideas together, and we get the possibility that the MCU’s X-Men will feature the X-23 Wolverine and not Logan.
The MCU has been following the comics’ leads by focusing on more inclusive characters and stories. We have Sam Wilson ascending to the role of Captain America, Kate Bishop is poised to become the new Hawkeye, and Jane Foster will wield Mjolnir in Thor: Love and Thunder. Introducing an adult Laura as Wolverine would fit perfectly into that mold while also giving Marvel Studios an original take on the character for the MCU.
TWO YEARS OF RUMORS
It all started two years ago. As soon as Disney completed its purchase of Fox and all its intellectual properties, the first question was on the mark: when will we see the X-Men in the MCU? Even before the Fox sale, there were the what ifs: what if Wolverine fought the Hulk in a movie? What if the two cinematic universes were to ever cross paths?
Right after the Fox deal was finalized, the Wolverine casting rumors began. Would Hugh Jackman come out of X-Men retirement and reprise the role for Marvel Studios? Would the studio recast the part for a new generation? The rumor mill began churning out nearly weekly gossip of a new contender for the role.
Then things got quiet for a while. Feige confirmed that the Fantastic Four were up first, and that there was no plan for the X-Men to arrive in Phase Four. And so the rumors died down...for a time. That is until WandaVision trolled viewers by casting Evan Peters as Quicksilver or so we were led to believe. In the end, what could have been an historic MCU moment became a massive plot hole in the shape of a middle finger aimed at its audience, particularly X-Men fans.
FATWS AND THE PRINCESS BAR
Again, things grew relatively quiet before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier reignited the Wolverine gossip scene.
Sam, Bucky, and a dancing Zemo took a trip to Wolverine’s favorite country, the shady Madripoor. While that alone may not have been enough to trigger an avalanche of rumors and theories, the trio made a stop at the infamous Princess Bar, thus lighting the beacons of MCU speculation. Not only is the notorious bar a known Wolverine hangout, but he’s also the co-owner, which led to questions when FATWS referenced the mysterious bar owner. Could they have been alluding to Logan?
The excitement produced even more rumors, with one that claims Wolverine will star in his own Disney+ series that will center on his Weapon X history. The latest speculation is that Jackman has been offered the part of Logan, but not the one from the Fox-verse. Instead, it would be a version of the character from a different corner of the multiverse. The rumor is that the Australian actor did not accept the part, but he has not yet turned it down either, insisting on reading the script before coming to a firm decision either way.
A MULTIVERSE OF OPTIONS
If we can believe the newest Jackman gossip, then that would mean he would not necessarily play the same Wolverine who died at the conclusion of Logan, and that leaves the door open for a host of possibilities.
The most likely scenario is, whether or not Jackman signs on to play a different Logan from another corner of the multiverse, the MCU will cast a younger actor to portray Wolverine. Although virtually every actor in Hollywood has been rumored for the part, the most prominent has been that Taron Egerton would sport the claws and mutton chops.
What if Marvel Studios doesn’t want to retrace Fox’s steps? As we have seen with the Spider-Man Homecoming films, Marvel prefers to forge new territory with their own spin on classic characters.
Looking at the comics for inspiration, what could be something new and different? For much of the 2000s, Wolverine has been associated more with the Avengers than the X-Men. Who’s to say that Marvel Studios won’t have him join the Avengers? If we backtrack to FATWS’ Easter egg, Marvel could follow the 1988 Wolverine series and have him appear as his assassin-for-hire alias, Patch.
In the event that Logan is introduced away from the X-Men, then that would leave the door open for Laura Kinney to fill the void as the team’s Wolverine. Famously, after the Death of Wolverine storyline, Logan was replaced in 2016 by X-23 as the Marvel Universe’s full-time Wolverine. Clearly, someone at Marvel Comics wants Laura to be Logan’s successor as Wolverine, though he will apparently continue with the Wolverine name and costume in July. That will give us two Wolverines in the comics, and that could be the route Marvel Studios takes, with Laura and Logan coexisting as X-Men.
When it comes to Kevin Feige’s era of Marvel, nothing happens at random. All the Wolverine and X-Men teases and Easter eggs as well as the dramatic change in the X-Men comics happening at the same time is not a coincidence. For that matter, I wonder if at least some of the internet rumors get “leaked” under Feige’s direction. Marvel Studios is highly protective of its secrets and mysteries, and we can logically assume that any credible rumor is part of a larger plan at work behind the scenes.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.