(Note: potential SPOILERS for Wolverine movies (and recent comics) lie below - proceed with caution...)
Bad news, X-Fans...
Despite several recent hints to the contrary - and the fact that he's pretty much the cornerstone of Fox's entire cinematic X-Universe - it sounds as though the upcoming Wolverine 3 (or The Wolverine 2, depending on who you ask) will be Hugh Jackman's last.
That's right, it seems that Jackman, having turned Wolverine into a veritable cinematic icon over the past fifteen years, may well hang up his claws, and set sail for new cinematic adventures which don't feature massive sideburns.
Or, at least, that seems to be the most natural way to interpret this recent tweet of his:
Especially since it was swiftly followed by a tweet from his The Wolverine director James Mangold, suggesting that his final film would indeed be the upcoming Wolverine solo outing:
So, the big question?
Is Hugh Jackman Really Going to Step Down as Wolverine?
After all, the comic-book Wolverine recently found himself considerably more dead than any of us would have ever expected to see the distinctly durable mutant to ever be, back in last year's Death of Wolverine arc:
In that, Wolverine was eventually felled by a giant pile of molten Adamantium - yet a key component of that was that he had, a short time before, lost his healing factor:
Could we, then, be set to see Logan lose his healing factor in the forthcoming solo movie, before finally calling it a day (and Hugh Jackman along with him) at the movie's conclusion?
Well, perhaps, but there seems to be a more plausible alternative:
Could Wolverine Instead Just Stop Having Solo Movies?
After all, Wolvie is widely perceived as being the key character in the box-office success of the X-Men movies - hence his appearance in ever last one of them. Would Fox really risk their newly emboldened franchise by cutting Jackman out of the series? Perhaps - but a more likely option is that we'll keep seeing a whole lot of this sort of thing instead:
Specifically, Wolverine interacting with other X-heroes in conspicuously bad-ass ways...
There are, after all, a whole lot of other X-projects lined up for the next few years - with Deadpool, Gambit and the long-rumored X-Force prominent among them. Could, then, Wolverine's third solo outing be his last...on his own?
After all, that tweet...
...could just as easily refer to a final Wolverine solo movie as to a final cinematic appearance by Jackman - and the inclusion of as beloved - and box-office-boosting - a hero as Wolverine in a succession of riskier spin-offs could well be too tempting to pass up. Jackman would be able to spend less time on set (and coping with his hugely challenging dietary and exercise regime), while Fox would have a guaranteed selling point for each new X-movie they release.
Or, alternatively, that's just wishful thinking on my part, and Wolverine's set to leave the X-movies - or be recast...