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The following feature will dive into spoilers for X-Men: Apocalypse, so STOP READING NOW if you haven’t yet seen the film.
By now, you likely have heard that Weapon X is unleashed during a pivotal sequence in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse. After an explosion at Xavier’s mansion, Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) helicopters down and abducts some key members of the team, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). A rescue mission is staged by Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), but in the process, the young trio releases a caged Wolverine, once again played by Hugh Jackman.
It’s a cool sequence, allowing Wolverine to snap into "berserker" mode so he can eliminate – in gory fashion – an army of Stryker’s men as he flees the Alkali Lake facility. But the inclusion of this sequence IN this movie has us asking a few important questions, not only about the X-Men timeline, but also about the as-yet-untitled Wolverine 3 solo movie. Did you think of these? Do you have answers that maybe we missed? Weigh in below!
Will This Wolverine Be The One We See In Wolverine 3?The X-Men saga hasn’t done itself very many favors when it comes to maintaining its timelines. X-Men: Days of Future Past worked to reset some time issues, but the character who suffered the most from that plotline was Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), who had to act as a bridge between the original stars of the series and the First Class versions that were existing in the 1970s. As you recall, Wolverine was able to "return" to his future at the end of Days, where he learned that he’d spared the likes of Cyclops (James Marsden), Jean (Famke Janssen), Rogue (Anna Paquin) and more. At the same time, a version of Wolverine was left in the past… where he was plucked put of the water by Stryker… who was really Mystique.
Seriously, we need a chart to keep all of this straight.
So, from what I understand, the Wolverine plucked out of the water in Days is the one that is in Alkali Lake in Apocalypse. Only, he has been put through the Weapon X program, which is why his Bone Claws are now covered with their adamantium. So, does this mean that the Wolverine that we follow in The Wolverine 3 will be this version of the mutant hero – a feral, animalistic beast of a man who gets a small portion of his memories returned to him by Jean (Sophie Turner) before he runs out into the snow? Or will it be an extension of the Wolverine (also played by Jackman) who returned to a future in the closing moments of Days?
In previous Wolverine solo movies – or, The Wolverine, at the very least – Logan held memories of his original X-Men co-stars. His pining for Jean Grey powered that subplot. But The Wolverine 3 can’t jump back to the timeline of the Original X-Men Trilogy… can it? If Patrick Stewart is going to be a part of the story, as it has been rumored, does that guarantee that Wolverine 3 continues on the "fixed" timeline of Days? Because Patrick Stewart isn’t part of the timeline that Wolverine’s now walking on because of X-Men: Apocalypse?
For real, the inclusion of Wolverine in Apocalypse was cool, but man, it made upcoming X-Men movies, and upcoming Wolverine movies, very confusing. Speaking of confusing…
How Did Wolverine Get To Alkali Lake?We almost have an answer to this one… almost! Remember, the version of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) that we saw pulled out of the water in Days of Future Past wasn’t really retrieved by Stryker. It was shown to be Mystique masquerading as Stryker. Why? We’re not entirely sure. Mystique spends most of X-Men: Apocalypse telling everyone that she’s NOT the hero they believe her to be. And while she does travel to Germany to rescue Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from a Berlin fight club, she doesn’t do anything with him… so we don’t think that was part of some larger initiative that Raven has launched to save persecuted mutants.
So, what happened to Wolverine in the decade that passed from Days of Future Past’s 1973 setting, and the 1983 setting of Apocalypse? How did he get into Stryker’s hands, and part of the Weapon X program? We actually asked X-Men producer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg this – because it’s never made clear in the movie – and his answer was:
One of the things we talk about in Days of Future Past - there’s a scene where Hank/Beast talks about the immutability of time. Basically, you can change the way the future goes, but it finds its way back. So while we don’t show how it found its way back to Wolverine being part of Weapon X and under the thumb of Stryker, that’s the idea.
So the answer is "fate." It’s Wolverine’s fate, no matter which timeline he rides on, to land in the Weapon X program, to get his claws coated with adamantium, and to cross paths with the X-Men characters. There was a sweet moment where Jean bonds with Logan before he runs away, and it’s tender because we know of the history shared between these classic characters. However, this Jean is MUCH younger, and this Wolverine is still Hugh Jackman. Which leads me to my next burning question…
Will They Ever Be Able To Recast Wolverine?This is the point that drives me nuts. By using Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine one more time in X-Men: Apocalypse, it feels like the series has painted itself into a corner in terms of ever recasting the part for future X-Men movies. I understand that, in a way, they had to use Jackman, as he was playing the Wolverine who was left on this timeline at the end of Days of Future Past, and he’d be the one obtained by Stryker (somehow) and placed in the Weapon X program. But we have been told that Wolverine 3 will be set in the future – on THIS timeline, I’m assuming, though I have no idea – and Jackman may be playing some form of Old Man Logan. I get that this character is ageless, but Jackman is not, and that’s going to cause a real problem for the X-Men series… in time.
The hook of X-Men: Apocalypse seemed to be that by setting it in the 1980s, and coming after the timeline reset of Days of Future Past, it allowed the series to recast pivotal roles so that we could continue to tell more X-Men stories with a younger cast. So, even though the reasons didn’t make any sense, we got a new Storm (Alexandra Shipp), a new Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a new Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and a new Jean (Sophie Turner). Apocalypse would have been the perfect time – and possibly the only time – that the series could have recast Wolverine, without the fans getting into an uproar. It would have allowed a younger Logan to fight alongside these new X-Men characters on a reset timeline. It would have allowed an older Hugh Jackman to finish out Wolverine 3 in a future setting, playing Old Man Logan instead of creating continued X-Men Timeline Confusion by showing up in the Weapon X program in 1983. And it would have created a viable path for the franchise’s most popular character.
The next X-Men movie reportedly will be set in the 1990s. It likely will feature the team that is put together at the end of Apocalypse. And that’s great. I liked the new versions of Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, Storm and even Quicksilver. I think they can be a fun team to build a franchise around. But I think the continued inclusion of Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine role – even on this reset timeline – prevents the series from ever bringing in a younger, different version of the character the way that Apocalypse reset some key X-Men. Which means we’ll never get to see him in a Deadpool movie. We’ll never see him fight alongside X-Force. We may never see him in any way that makes any sense. And that’s a real shame.