Why Kevin Feige Told Hugh Jackman NOT To Return As Wolverine After Disney’s Fox Deal

Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige Smiling and Hugh Jackman Frowning as Wolverine in Deadpool 3 and Logan

A few years before Deadpool & Wolverine became the biggest movie event of the year, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige advised Hugh Jackman not to reprise his iconic X-Men movie role in the MCU. Shawn Levy’s upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine may be the biggest MCU movie since Spider-Man: No Way Home. Not only does Deadpool & Wolverine integrate Fox’s X-Men timelines into the MCU’s vast multiverse, but it also turns Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine into MCU stars.

Twentieth Century Fox still had several undeveloped projects when Disney acquired the company in 2019. Yet, Fox’s X-Men franchise had struggled to match the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s massive success, and the X-Men movie’s chaotic timeline wasn’t consistent enough to establish an easy-to-follow continuity or a defined cast of characters. Hence, the idea of bringing some of the most beloved X-Men characters into the MCU seemed more than logical. Counterintuitively, though, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige himself was against the idea.

Kevin Feige Advised Hugh Jackman To Stay Retired

The Marvel Studios CEO Believed Logan To Be Hugh Jackman’s Perfect Wolverine Farewell

Kevin Feige in front of the Marvel Studios logo

Kevin Feige speaks to Empire in the magazine’s summer 2024 issue about his initial refusal to bring Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine into the MCU. According to the Marvel Studios CEO, Jackman’s last appearance as Wolverine in James Mangold’s Logan was the perfect farewell for the character. Even though Disney’s acquisition of Fox opened the possibility of another X-Men movie starring Jackman within the MCU, Feige didn’t want to mess with Wolverine’s bittersweet death at the end of Logan:

Soon after that, and soon after the Disney/Fox takeover had been announced, Feige had breakfast with Hugh Jackman, the actor who had played Logan across 17 years and nine movies. And there, Feige did something unexpected too. Rather than ask Jackman to reconsider his decision to hang up his claws, and come play with Spider-Man and his amazing friends, Feige told Jackman to enjoy his retirement. “We were in the midst of Infinity War and Endgame,” recalls Feige. “I said, Let me give you a piece of advice, Hugh. Don’t come back. You had the greatest ending in history with Logan. That’s not something we should undo.”

Passing on the chance to feature such a beloved character as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the same universe as the Avengers would have been a bold decision, but it’s one that demonstrates how much Kevin Feige prioritizes each character’s story. Feige was willing to sacrifice a massive profit opportunity just to preserve Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine legacy. The hype around Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame at the time also indicated a promising future for Marvel without Jackman’s Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman Wasn’t Going To Return

Deadpool & Wolverine Exists Because Of Hugh Jackman’s Love For His X-Men Character

Wolverine in X-Men Origins, Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds

Three years after Kevin Feige advised him not to reprise his X-Men role, Hugh Jackman chose to wield the claws once again. Speaking to Empire, Jackman detailed the moment he made the decision. According to the Wolverine actor, he had the freedom to choose any role, yet he still felt like Wolverine had enough potential to exploit on the big screen despite the events of Logan. By this point, Disney’s acquisition of Fox was long completed, and plans for the incorporation of mutant characters were already underway at Marvel Studios. Read Jackman’s comments below:

That morning in the summer of 2022, Jackman had been on a call with his agent, who had said, “Dude, you’re at such a great point in your career. You can do anything you want. What do you want to do?” Jackman didn’t have an answer.

And then he climbed into his car for a drive to the beach. At the moment he fired up the engine, he had no intention of playing Wolverine again. By the time he got out, he was ready to once again be the best there is at what he does.

“I was about an hour into the drive,” he remembers. “And that question came into my head: ‘What do I want to do?’ And as soon as I asked the question, I wanted to do Deadpool & Wolverine. I just knew it. I drove for another hour. Couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I got out of the car, called Ryan, and said, ‘Ryan, if you’ll have me, I’m in.'”

After seventeen years and nine Wolverine movie appearances in the X-Men franchise, Hugh Jackman clearly maintained a deep appreciation for Wolverine. And despite the large number of comic book-inspired and original storylines Wolverine participated in across Fox’s X-Men movies, many ideas remained unexplored by the time Wolverine died in Logan. Formally entering the MCU, wearing the classic yellow-and-blue suit, and co-starring with Ryan Reynolds only added to Hugh Jackman’s already vehement interest in portraying Wolverine on screen once again.

Kevin Feige Rejected Ryan Reynolds’ First Deadpool & Wolverine Pitch

Ryan Reynolds’ Original Deadpool & Wolverine Pitch Was A Smaller Marvel Movie

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool looking curiously at Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in Deadpool 3 Exclusive header

The creative mind that championed Deadpool 3, later transformed into Deadpool & Wolverine, was none other than Wade Wilson himself, Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds also explained to Empire how he approached Marvel Studios with the idea of continuing Deadpool’s story after Disney’s acquisition of Fox, and how one of his early ideas for the movie was shut down by Marvel. According to Reynolds, he kept his original idea smaller than the script that would eventually become Deadpool & Wolverine. Read Ryan Reynolds’ anecdote below:

“I genuinely didn’t know, a few years ago, if I would ever play Deadpool again.” (…) “Disney buying Fox, at least in my perspective, put things in jeopardy.”

“I got called up to the big man, and went over there,” recalls Reynolds, “and I pitched a movie that I thought would be a great third film.”

In particular, he wanted a “Rashomon story about Wolverine and Deadpool and something that they got into together, but told from three completely different perspectives.” (…) “It was a way to make a large-scale movie in a very small way.”

Ryan Reynolds has been essential for Deadpool’s success on the big screen since Wade Wilson’s first starring role in David Leitch’s 2016 Deadpool movie. It was Reynolds who advocated for Deadpool’s comic-accurate movie after the character’s poor live-action adaptation in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So, when Fox’s X-Men franchise came to an end, Reynolds once again took it upon himself to find the best way to bring the Merc With a Mouth into the MCU. Reynolds pitched multiple ideas to Marvel Studios, including small-scale and unconventional ones. Ultimately, Deadpool & Wolverine happened due to Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, and Kevin Feige’s authentic love for the characters.

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