Inside Hugh Jackman’s Decision to Return as Wolverine: ‘It’s Been Brewing for a Long Time’ 

Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds shocked comic book movie fans at the end of September when they jointly announced Jackman’s Wolverine would be returning to the big screen in “Deadpool 3.” Jackman hung up his claws in 2017 with “Logan,” which was touted as his Wolverine swan song and ended with the character’s death. Just how Wolverine is returning for “Deadpool 3” remains to be seen, but Jackman and Reynolds told Variety the plan has been brewing for quite some time.

According to Reynolds, he first met with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige three and a half years ago after Disney acquired Fox. The first two “Deadpool” movies were released by Fox and each grossed in the $780 million range worldwide. Now that Disney owned Fox, the door was open for Deadpool to enter Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I got Kevin to talk what, if anything, the future holds for Deadpool in that transaction,” Reynolds said of his first meeting with Marvel following the Disney-Fox merger. “The subject was coming up in the meeting about if we could find a way to do a Deadpool-Wolverine pairing. It wasn’t possible then. For this to be happening now is pretty damn exciting.”

“Deadpool 3” will mark Jackman’s 10th time playing Wolverine. The two actors first met during the making of 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” where Reynolds was playing a different iteration of Wade Wilson/Deadpool. Jackman, who is currently on Broadway with “The Music Man,” is already starting to bulk up in order to get back into Wolverine shape.

“A little part of me now thinks I’d be better at it,” Jackman said about returning to his most iconic role. “Is that arrogance of age or something? Wolverine’s a tortured character — more tortured than me. But I always get the feeling of him being comfortable in his own skin. And I feel more comfortable in my own skin now, even though it’s messier.”

Jackman meant it when he repeatedly stated on the “Logan” press tour that he was retiring from playing Wolverine. So what changed his mind? A screening of “Deadpool” in 2016, it turns out. Jackman saw “Deadpool” for the first time before shooting “Logan,” but had already gone on record calling “Logan” his final Wolverine movie by then.

“I went to a screening of ‘Deadpool.’ I was 20 minutes in, and I was like, ‘Ah, damn it!’” Jackman said. “All I kept seeing in my head was ‘48 Hrs.’ with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy. So it’s been brewing for a long time. It just took me longer to get here.”

While Reynolds was eager to bring Wolverine into the fold for over three years (Jackman said Reynolds had been pleading to him “on the daily” about doing a Wolverine-Deadpool movie), it wasn’t until August that Jackman finally agreed to play Wolverine again.

“I think, actually, he’d given up,” Jackman said. “I think it was a big shock to him. There was a massive pause, and then he said, ‘I can’t believe the timing of this.’”

Jackman called Reynolds to break the news during a late summer beach trip with his family. Reynolds just so happened to have a meeting already set up with Marvel and Feige about “Deadpool 3.” With Jackman now on board, Reynolds and director Shawn Levy brought the news to Feige.

“Oh my God, I’m thrilled,” Reynolds said about Jackman’s return. “It’s like old home week. To get to be on set with one of my closest friends each and every day is a dream come true. But to do it with these two iconic characters side by side, that’s beyond our wildest dreams.”

Reynolds added of Jackman, “I’ve always been blown away by the full spectrum of his talent. He came onto this scene and entered the zeitgeist as this hyper-masculine superhero character but also he’s shooting musicals and he’s portraying these intense vulnerable characters in all kinds of films in all kinds of budgets for all kinds of audiences.”

It’s not clear what the new movie will be about. It’s not even necessarily going to be named “Deadpool 3.” Jackman added, “Well, not in my heart. I’m pretty sure Wolverine wouldn’t like that title.”

“Deadpool 3” is set to open in theaters Nov. 8, 2024.

From Variety US