Ryan Reynolds has once again shocked the world, and no, I don’t mean by releasing an acclaimed documentary series about his and running buying one of the world’s oldest soccer clubs alongside Rob McElhenney. Instead, he announced in a typically tongue-in-cheek video that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine would be appearing in the highly anticipated Deadpool 3, which will be directed by Shawn Levy. With Levy and Reynolds being Canadians, in addition to both Deadpool and Wolverine being Canadian characters, Deadpool 3 will be quite the maple leafed affair.
But I digress, as the appearance of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine raises a slew of questions, something the duo are keenly aware of evidenced by this video they released the following day, which can only be described as Deadpool levels of trolling aimed squarely at fans. Of course, no actual answers were offered, but there are a number of angles from which they can come at integrating Wolverine and, for that matter, Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
To comprehend why Wolverine’s return for Deadpool 3 is as complicated as it is fascinating, you must first understand Fox’s X-Men franchise plotline, which is a complete mess. While the first three entries were relatively linear and cohesive in their timelines, the third entry, X-Men: Last Stand, made some baffling plot decisions that would lead to much retconning in later instalments, namely its killing off of Cyclops (James Marsden) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Come the next entry in the franchise, 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, all bets were off as it was maligned for one poor character depiction after another, most infamously Ryan Reynolds’ first appearance as a barely recognizable Wade Wilson/Deadpool. So egregious was its narrative faux pas’ that today X-Men Origins: Wolverine is written off as a one-off from an alternate universe, if not just a bad dream. Strides were made to course-correct with the prequel X-Men: First Class and its excellent time-travelling sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, but The Wolverine and Logan (which, spoiler alert, gave Wolverine an honourable death), each feel like their own self-contained narratives, while Deadpool’s interactions with the X-Men, particularly in Deadpool 2, only serves to muddy the waters of the timeline even more.
What I’m essentially saying is that the Wolverine of Deadpool 3 could be any of a number of versions of the character. Or it could be something entirely new.
Admittedly, it is a bit of a cop-out to say that it could be ‘any of the above’, but we simply don’t know enough as of yet. What I can say, though, is that it will almost certainly not be the version of Wolverine we saw in Logan (the more untouched that masterpiece stays, the better, and you can be sure Disney knows that too), nor are we likely to see an offshoot of whatever the hell X-Men Origins: Wolverine was, but we’ll at least get to see a different R-rated version of Wolverine here given the difference in tone between Logan and what the Deadpool series has been thus far. To match said tone might require a version of Wolverine we haven’t seen before, and with Patrick Stewart’s appearance as an alternate version of Professor Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel has already proven their willingness to use original cast members of the Fox franchise as a means of gradually integrating the X-Men into the MCU.
It’s ultimately the larger implications of the X-Men’s introduction into the MCU that is at play here. Marvel has already begun laying the groundwork by dropping the “mutant” bomb in Ms. Marvel (a right they earned the moment they acquired the X-Men rights), as well as recently confirming that Namor (Tenoch Huerta), who will make his MCU debut in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is also a mutant. Deadpool 3, on the other hand, is the only real surviving link from the Fox/Disney merger, and could very well be the linchpin for moving on from Fox’s X-Men to the MCU’s own version of the team, and Jackman’s involvement only helps further solidify this notion. Plus, you have to imagine that after the Australian actor repeatedly swore off returning to the most iconic role of his career, Reynolds and co. must have had an idea too good to pass up on and might even allow for Jackman to officially hand over the reins to the next actor to play the role, in a manner similar to the appearance of multiple versions of Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Whatever the case, the movie is not slated for release until 2024, so all we can do is wait as further reports trickle out over time, and you can bet that I’ll be paying close attention.