Big things are in store for the X-Men film series in the coming years. 2016 will not only see the release of X-Men: Apocalypse, but also the new spinoffs, Deadpool and Gambit. Wolverine 3 follows in 2017, and is said to be Hugh Jackman’s last time playing the character. While this is certainly exciting for many fans, next year could also be the end of another era.
Entertainment writer El Mayimbe (formerly of Latino Review) posted a rumor on Instagram that X-Men: Apocalypse and Wolverine 3 will mark the end of the X-Men film universe that began back in 2000, and that director Byan Singer is leaving the franchise. What’s unclear is whether this simply means that Singer won’t be contributing creatively to the series anymore, or if another massive continuity shift will occur. The post also states that Wolverine 3 will indeed be Jackman’s last outing as the ferocious mutant, meaning that this is either the last time we see the character or he will be recast in the future.
If Singer is leaving, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone else to helm the franchise. However, ending a universe is a much more daunting endeavor. The X-Men series already went through a reset in X-Men: Days of Future Past, when Wolverine traveled back to 1973 and prevented the Sentinels from rising to power. The result was a new timeline that was similar to the previous one, but with several changes, such as Cyclops and Jean Grey still being alive. Singer did recently say its aftermath will impact the course of history within that world, and with Apocalypse being perhaps the most powerful individual the X-Men have ever fought, that’s not hard to believe.
The most radical change would be for 20th Century Fox to bid their current series farewell and have X-Men: Apocalypse either serve as the final chapter, or take a Star Trek-approach and completely reboot the timeline rather than just make slight alterations. As for Wolverine 3, this could serve as an epilogue to the old universe, in either a one-off story or in the distant future (the latter practically begs for an Old Man Logan adaptation).
The other things to consider are Deadpool and Gambit. While we don’t know if these superhero films will be successful or not, superhero movies are rarely green-lit these days without at least planning for sequels. Fantastic Four doesn't hit theaters until August, but Fantastic Four 2 is already planned for June 2017. Assuming that Deadpool and Gambit do well, does this mean that those movies will be their only features, or will the following sequels take place in whatever new universe awaits? I’m leaning towards the latter since Hollywood rarely likes to do the former with huge blockbusters, and also, if 20th Century Fox doesn’t keep making X-Men films, those rights will revert back to Marvel.
It remains to be seen what is in store for these films, but at minimum, fans can expect big things for the mutants on the big screen soon. X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters on May 27, 2016, with Wolverine 3 following on March 3, 2017.