(Warning - possible SPOILERS for X-Men: Apocalypse, and definite ones for the classic X-Men crossover event, The Age of Apocalypse, lie below. As Taylor Swift so sagely put it: "Don't say I didn't say I didn't warn ya"...)
One of the most excitement-generating moments to come out of this year's San Diego Comic-Con had, somewhat surprisingly, nothing whatsoever to do with either Deadpool or the Joker.
It was, instead, a single line, uttered by a man who'd already announced that he would soon be stepping down from his iconic superhero role. That line, though - spoken by Hugh 'Wolverine' Jackman himself - came with one heck of a punch:
"I’ve got three words for you guys: Old Man Logan."
Which, at the time, we all took as confirmation that his upcoming solo movie would, as had been rumored, be based on the Mark Millar comic book storyline known as Old Man Logan.
The thing is, though - there're actually a few problems with that particular theory.
For one thing:
Old Man Logan Isn't Really Adaptable by Fox
Y'see, as it turns out, the vast majority of Old Man Logan's characters aren't actually able to be included in any Fox-produced movie, what with the rights to all of them being owned by Marvel Studios.
With the vast majority of the plot - which is centered around the evil schemes of the Red Skull, and distinctly dystopian versions of Hawkeye and the Hulk - being unusable, then, to say nothing of the original comic book's massively bloody sensibility, it's possible that we won't, in fact, be seeing anywhere near as much of Old Man Logan on the big screen as we initially thought.
That being said:
It Could Be Replaced By Something Even More Iconic
After all, while much of Old Man Logan is essentially Marvel Studios-owned, there's a whole lot of Marvel's X-Men-related output that Fox still very much has the rights to - and one storyline in particular might just make a whole lot of sense for Wolverine's forthcoming solo movie.
Wolverine's New Movie Could Be Set in...The Age of Apocalypse
Which, for everyone out there not fully caught up on their mid-90s Marvel crossover events, was a brief, X-Men universe-spanning storyline, depicting a world in which Professor Xavier was killed as a young man, and thus wasn't alive to found the X-Men. In his place, Magneto took over as leader of the X-Men, and lacking the moral fortitude (and, likely crucially, mind-powers) of Xavier, failed to make the world all that much of a better place.
In fact, the Age of Apocalypse was about as far from a 'better place' as it's possible to imagine the world being. Not only was Apocalypse the ruler of (what was formerly) the United States, but he'd also managed to wipe out most of the human race in a genocidal frenzy - with the help of some of the most beloved X-Men.
Why, though, would that make a logical setting/story for Wolverine's upcoming solo movie?
Well, for one thing:
The Wolverine We Know and Love Now Exists in An Alternate Movie Timeline
After all, as the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past revealed, The present-day X-Men have now essentially been re-booted, meaning that pretty much every adventure we've seen Wolverine have thus far (Days of Future Past-excepted) won't have happened to the on-screen Wolvie.
That, in turn, suggests that there's no particular reason to believe that we'll see the continuing adventures of that new realities Wolverine - seeing as things seem pretty settled there.
We also, though, aren't too likely to see an adventure set in the past alongside X-Men: Apocalypse, what with the whole 'Old Man Logan announcement' and all. If we really are going to see an older Wolverine, it's unlikely to be in the 80's or 90's, where he'd be younger than he was in the original X-Men movies.
If Wolverine's Sequel Isn't Set in the Past - or an Already Established Present - Then, Where Will it Be Set?
Well, that's where the Age of Apocalypse comes in once again. Y'see, with X-Men: Apocalypse set to introduce the big A himself to the X-Universe, it's not impossible to imagine that the movie could end with a moment not entirely unlike that which caused the comic book Age of Apocalypse: the death of Charles Xavier.
If so, the fact that X-Men: Apocalypse is set in the past would suddenly become incredibly important, as Xavier's death would necessarily ripple forward, creating a whole new - Professor X-less - timeline.
One which could well look a whole lot like the Age of Apocalypse.
Now, if that were to happen - and it'd be an awesomely Empire Strikes Back-style way to end the movie - then there would inevitably be another X-Men sequel a few years later, in which the whole storyline would be resolved.
That, though, would almost certainly arrive after Wolverine's next solo movie, currently set for 2017.
Wolverine's Solo Movie Could Be Set in the Future the End of X-Men: Apocalypse Created
One in which we could see older versions of established heroes interact with an aging, Old Man Logan-style Wolverine. Throw in a super-villainous Nemesis, and the rise of Apocalypse being his fault (much as the death of the X-Men was in Old Man Logan), and you've basically got as close an adaptation of Millar's original story as is possible, anyway.
Plus, with the likes of James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin and Halle Berry (the original movie Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue and Storm, respectively) all relatively inexpensive options so far as smaller supporting roles go, the movie would give fans the chance to see a very different take on some of our favorite heroes from the original X-Movies.
Heck, if Ian McKellen doesn't feel like returning, you could even have Michael Fassbender's younger Magneto be the one to die, and bring Patrick Stewart in for a - rumored a while back - Wolverine and Professor X team-up adventure...
I mean, just think about it:
Kelsey Grammer as an evil 'mad scientist' version of Beast?
Anna Paquin's Rogue as a kick-ass, tough-as-nails guerrilla fighter?
Jackman's Wolverine as a blend of his one-handed Age of Apocalypse-self, and Old Man Logan's traumatized pacifist on a suicide mission?
What's not to love?
Of course, it's probably still a major long-shot - but if next year's X-Men: Apocalypse features a major character dying, don't be too surprised if the Age of Apocalypse - and with it, a potentially incredible Wolverine solo movie - arrives shortly after...