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After nearly a year of rumors and a recent report saying that Hugh Jackman participated in reshoots, X-Men: Apocalypse’s latest trailer confirmed today that Wolverine will appear in the movie. This marks Jackman’s eight time playing the clawed mutant and his penultimate appearance before bowing out next year in Wolverine 3. However, director Bryan Singer said that Wolverine won’t be a central character in X-Men: Apocalypse. So if he won’t be one of the movie’s major players, how does he fit in? Going off this new trailer and previous reports, we believe the sixth main X-Men installment is telling Wolverine’s origin…again.
In the few seconds of Wolverine-related footage from the trailer, we see soldiers’ bodies strewn about in some kind of military facility. When Mystique comments on the carnage, Cyclops tells her they "had a little help," which leads to a shot of Wolverine popping his claws in front of some soldiers. That’s not much to work on by itself, but there’s another important thing we need to remember: Josh Helman is reprising William Stryker for X-Men: Apocalypse, last seen serving Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Stryker has been an instrumental figure in Wolverine’s past in the X-Men movies, and for this movie, Bryan Singer said that the fanatical military officer is enacting his own plan to "deal with the mutant problem" that will involve the movie’s younger mutants. Well, as we just saw, Cyclops, Jean Grey and some of the other main mutants had been held captive in that military facility, and in the teaser trailer last year, we saw them in a prison cell. At some point in the movie, it’s likely Stryker will get his hands on some of Xavier’s students for his sinister plans, but they’ll eventually escape or be freed.
So how does all this involve Wolverine? Well, as we all know, in this universe, Stryker led the Weapon X program, which bonded Wolverine’s skeleton with adamantium to make him even more powerful. This was revealed in 2003’s X2: X-Men United, while 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine told the story of how Wolverine, a.k.a. James Howlett, got involved with Stryker. It’s safe to assume that Stryker’s "plan," just like in the original timeline, is Weapon X, i.e. making mutants more powerful, but mind-controlling them so they would only do his bidding.
In X-Men: Apocalypse, Wolverine will have already gone through the adamantium-bonding process, but rather than escape right away like he did in the original movies, he’ll be kept prisoner in Stryker’s complex. It’s only thanks to the younger X-Men only being held there that he’ll break free, and after slicing and dicing some soldiers, he’ll escape and go on a similar path as in the original movies, amnesia and all. In the comics, none of the X-Men were present when Wolverine’s skeleton was laced with adamantium, but hey, this is the movies. There have always been adjustments made to these classic stories.
Now the big question is how Wolverine arrived at this point in the new timeline. At the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, 1970s Wolverine (who was freed from his future self’s control at that point) was fished out of the Potomac River on the orders of William Stryker. Well, that’s how it looked at first, but we found out it was actually Mystique disguised as Stryker. It wasn’t revealed what the shapeshifter had planned for him, but since she was more hero than villain at that point, it’s doubtful it’s anything nefarious. She probably just let him go free after they were safely away from the government officials.
From there, past Wolverine, just like before, probably joined the military, met William Stryker and volunteered for the procedure, unaware of what Stryker truly had planned. However, let’s keep in mind that this isn’t going to be a rehash of what happened in X-Men: Origins: Wolverine. Not just because the main X-Men: Apocalypse characters are involved, but we don’t ever need to see the likes of him battling the Wade Wilson-turned-Weapon XI again. When all’s said in done, counting the flashbacks from the first two movies and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this will basically be the third time we’ve seen Wolverine with Weapon X. Because Jackman is hanging up the claws next year, this will also likely be the final time we see this play out, which is for the best. It now has the same standing that Batman’s parents and Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben being killed do; moviegoers have seen it plenty of times and they don’t need to see it retold ever again on screen.
X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters on May 27.