Although the X-Men are traditionally an ensemble-led property, there’s no question that when it comes to the film franchise, Wolverine was the most prominent character. With the exception of Deadpool, Hugh Jackman played the clawed mutant in every X-Men-related movie from 2000 to 2017, officially retiring from the role in Logan.
However, since Dark Phoenix is marking the last of the Fox era’s main X-Men movies, you might have wondered if Hugh Jackman will reprise Wolverine for a cameo, similar to his appearances in First Class and Apocalypse. Well, no such luck, and not just because Hugh Jackman hung up the adamantium claws. Here’s what director Simon Kinberg had to say about Wolverine’s absence in Dark Phoenix:"If you know the Dark Phoenix story, you’d want to really service the love story between Logan and Jean. And I think the notion of Hugh Jackman, as great as he looks for his age, and Sophie Turner — it didn’t sit well with me. Or anyone else!"
Simon Kinberg makes a fair point. On the one hand, there was a love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine in the comics era when The Dark Phoenix Saga was published, and X-Men: The Last Stand continued exploring the latter two’s romantic dynamic. Dark Phoenix eschewing that is a notable departure from the source material.
On the other hand, while there’s only a four-year age difference between Hugh Jackman and original Jean Grey Famke Janssen, Jackman and Sophie Turner have nearly 30 years separating them. Granted, Wolverine is nearly two centuries old in the modern day X-Men universe, so age will always be an issue with any woman he gets romantically involved with, but since visually it’s more noticeable between Jackman and Turner, Kinberg and the creative team decided to set that element of the original story aside.
Additionally, Simon Kinberg told Rolling Stone that excluding Wolverine from Dark Phoenix came from not wanting to divert attention from the main character, as this movie revolves around Jean Grey’s corruption. Kinberg continued:"There was an element of this being Jean’s story. And I was committing so fully to it that I didn’t want to run the risk of pulling away from Jean by going to the well of a fan-favorite character in these movies. I wanted this to be a very different experience of seeing an X-Men movie."
At least we know that in this new timeline that Dark Phoenix and its predecessor take place in, Wolverine is still set to join the X-Men somewhere down the line, just like he did in the original timeline. But as far as Dark Phoenix goes, he’s still doing his own thing nine years after Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler freed him from William Stryker’s facility.
It also helps that Wolverine’s story was concluded in Logan, where (SPOILER ALERT) the character died in the year 2029 protecting his daughter and other young mutants being targeted by Transigen. Jackman made it clear after Logan’s release that he would not play Wolverine again, so even if Simon Kinberg and his team had wanted to include the character in Dark Phoenix, it’s highly unlikely the actor would have come back.
Dark Phoenix opens in theaters this Friday, June 7. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more coverage (including our review of the movie) and browse through our 2019 release schedule to learn what movies there are to look forward to later this year.