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The History Of Every Canceled Wolverine Movie

The X-Men movies have their share of disasters. Whether it's a rotating cast of B-list mutants or a time-bending overall story that ensures nothing makes sense, it can sometimes be difficult to find the bright spots in these comic book-inspired (but decidedly not adapted) films. However, throughout the franchise's many ups and downs, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is a consistent bright spot.

Sure, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was reviled by critics, but he came out swinging with Logan several years later. Like the comic books, it didn't take long for filmmakers and audiences to realize that the adamantium-clawed self-healer is often the most interesting part of the entire franchise. As a result, X-Men movie history is riddled with failed or canceled projects revolving around Wolverine and his various antagonists. For every Logan or The Wolverine that actually made its way to theaters, there's at least one crumpled up script that never saw the light of day.

With Dark Phoenix seemingly putting a nail in the current canon's coffin and Hugh Jackman saying he left the character behind in 2017, something new might be on the way. As a result, it might be productive to take a look at the Wolverine-based projects that never got off the ground. Here's a rundown of all the Wolverine movies that never ended up getting made.

Young Wolverine

Director Matthew Vaughn's 2011 installment in the X-Men franchise, First Class, was one of the better ones in the collection. After the original X-Men trilogy went off the rails with 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, introducing younger versions of the heroes opened the door for a sort of reboot to get the franchise right. Vaughn told ComingSoon he envisioned First Class as the first installment in a trilogy, the second of which would have put Professor X's team on the back burner for the time being in order to introduce a young version of Wolverine.

The story would have been set in the 1970s and focus on the character's early, pre-operation days, which are not typically covered even in the comics. Although Vaughn planned to incorporate some of the First Class characters into the sequel, it would mostly mark an onscreen retry for a standalone Wolverine movie following the failure of Origins. Furthermore, he even had ideas for who would take on the role of young Logan, with Tom Hardy at the top of his list.

Unfortunately, it didn't happen and audiences never got to see the two actors, who are only nine years apart in real life, meet as different versions of Wolverine.

Days of Future Past, Draft 1

Matthew Vaughn's plan had it so that First Class was designed to be the start of a trilogy. Although a standalone young Wolverine movie would have been the sequel, he initially wanted to bring that version of the character into a third story with the rest of the First Class gang in what would have been a small Avengers-style character crossover. Not only that, he wanted to ensure that the previous movies weren't a waste of everyone's time by bringing the original cast together for an adaptation of Days of Future Past.

"That was going to be my number three where you bring them all... because what's bigger than bringing in [Ian] McKellen and Michael [Fassbender] and [Patrick] Stewart and James [McAvoy] and bringing them all together?" the director shared with ComingSoon.

Unfortunately, the studio was over-eager for a movie that blended the two timelines to happen sooner rather than later. As a result, a concession was made and only Hugh Jackman's Wolverine was involved in the story. Although Vaughn's idea sounds like a lot of fun, it would be jarring to see Wolverine, a technically ageless being, look like Tom Hardy for no real reason.

Wolverine vs. Fantastic Four vs. Daredevil

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in 2010 there was a pitch to essentially do a film adaptation of Civil War long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe did the same thing in 2016 with the third Captain America movie.

First Class writers Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz were tapped to pen a script that would see the X-Men go up against Daredevil and the Fantastic Four after Johnny Storm goes supernova in the middle of Manhattan and sparks the superhero registration act in response to the ensuing tragedy.

If the slew of crossover movies over the past decade have excited you, it's likely this movie sounds awesome. If not, perhaps reports of an early draft that saw Wolverine battle Mr. Fantastic only to stretch his molecules so thin that he's able to cut off the mutant's arms will give the pitch the heavy metal kick it needs to entice you. Meanwhile, the post-credits scene would have teased a Skrull invasion story.

Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox was excited to keep the status quo and pull off its multiple timeline story in Days of Future Past rather than opt for a genre-bending crossover. It didn't help the pitch that, at the time, most people expected Marvel Studios' 2012 Avengers to reinvent the superhero team-up game more than X-Men likely ever could.

X-23 standalone movie

Following the success of Logan in 2017, director James Mangold was credited with reigniting the R-rated superhero genre. As a result, it's natural that he has since been enamored with the idea of making a spinoff of one of his most successful movies: A standalone story centering on X-23, a.k.a. Laura, who proved a breakout star in Logan. In fact, Mangold told The Hollywood Reporter that he even worked on a script.

For those unfamiliar, Laura was introduced in the movie as one of many creations from the Alkali-Transigen corporation that used Wolverine's DNA to create clones to be used as weapons. As a result, an X-23 film would, albeit very technically, count as a Wolverine movie.

The original film ended with Laura escaping the evil corporation to start a new life in Canada with her friends, making the possibilities for a spinoff endless — until the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney. Now Mangold's vision of an X-23 film finds itself in limbo with the rest of the X-Men and the very concept of mutants. Speaking to The Playlist, Mangold admitted that he's still on board with the idea of bringing Dafne Keen's Laura back into the fold for her own movie, but admitted that it's doubtful Disney will be ready to pull the trigger on anything having to do with X-Men or mutants in general for the foreseeable future.

Darren Aronofsky's 'The Wolverine'

The imaginative director behind often dark films like Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and Noah, Darren Aronofsky was once tapped to helm Hugh Jackman's oft-forgotten second Wolverine standalone movie, The Wolverine. Set in Japan in the modern day, The Wolverine is a very adequate installment in the character's canon, especially when held up against the goofiness of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

However, with Aronofsky at the helm, it would have likely been an adaptation of the character's story that was unlike anything filmed in the X-Men franchise to date. Aronofsky's movies are more known for their psychological, often psychedelic, action and horror. Meanwhile, the X-Men and Wolverine movies so far have been more like tentpole action blockbusters.

Unfortunately, the world didn't get to see this grittier take on The Wolverine, which was ultimately directed by James Mangold, because Aronofsky was going through a divorce at the time.

"I loved the script and I thought the film came out great. I just had... it was a hard time in my life," the director said (via IndieWire). "It was complicated. I couldn't leave New York for that long an amount of time. And, to be honest, the possibility of Noah had started to emerge, and here was something I'd been thinking about for years. I was really excited by that."

While it's sad that Aronofsky's marriage ended, it's perhaps a similar tragedy that the world will never see his Wolverine movie.

'Game of Thrones' co-creator's original script

As mentioned several times, X-Men Origins: Wolverine fans are few and far between. Mainly, the movie did itself no favors by sewing the Merc with a Mouth's mouth shut and reducing him to some grotesque, lame final boss fight.

Many may not remember that Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff penned the script along with a few others. However, when his original 2006 draft made its way to the internet, fans were quick to notice a much more comics-faithful (albeit still a little rough) story that didn't feature Deadpool at all. Gratuitous cameos from Gambit and Cyclops were omitted from Benioff's original screenplay as well. Instead, more B-level mutants that comic fans would recognize were added.

CBR notes that the final battle, wherein a mute Deadpool with Cyclops' powers goes nuts, was completely different. Instead, Wolverine gets to Stryker's facility only to discover he wants to unleash a cavalcade of feral, comics-accurate Sabretooths on the world. This would also explain why Magneto teamed up with a more animalistic Sabertooth in the first movie — it was a clone, y'all.

Other differences include Emma Frost not being a child, Break from "New X-Men" appearing as a character, Barbarus from the Savage Land Mutants replacing Gambit and Dr. Cornelius, and his assistant Carol Hines and the Department of Agriculture's Pest Control Division making an appearance. Comics fans surely would have been happier with Benioff's more comics-inspired take, and although he's still got a writing credit, the film is a far cry from his first draft.

James Cameron's abandoned X-Men movie

In what is perhaps the biggest "What If" in Marvel movie history, a version of Wolverine and the X-Men was once in very early development for James Cameron's then-new Lightstorm Entertainment. According to TheWrap, in 1991 the blockbuster director hoped to have his then-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, direct an adaptation of what was then just known as a popular comic book. Writer Chris Claremont explained that a meeting was held with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee. Unfortunately, when the comic book legend floated another property under Cameron's nose, his X-Men plans went out the window.

"So we're chatting. And at one point Stan looks at Cameron and says, 'I hear you like Spider-Man.' Cameron's eyes lit up," Claremont said. "And they start talking. And talking. And talking. About 20 minutes later all the Lightstorm guys and I are looking at each other, and we all know the X-Men deal has just evaporated."

There are two tragedies here. First, Cameron never ended up making the Spider-Man movie either. Second, Claremont was hoping to make a more comics-accurate version of Wolverine. In an effort to capture the character's hairy appearance and small stature, he would have set his sights on Bob Hoskins to play the character, meaning Hugh Jackman's performance likely never would have existed.

Wolverine leads the 1990s animated series team

In 1995, Altered Carbon creator Laeta Kalogridis penned the script to an X-Men movie that would have done its best to simply take the immensely popular 1990s animated series and bring it to the live-action screen. According to Den of Geek, the movie would have seen Wolverine, fresh off of the adamantium operation that wiped out his memories, being discovered by the X-Men around the same time as a young mutant named Jubilation Lee started manifesting her early mutant abilities.

Elements of this story clearly made it into the 2000 X-Men movie, just replacing Rogue with Jubilee. However, this version would have leaned a lot heavier on both action and Wolverine. The film would have not only seen an epic one-on-one throwdown between Logan and Sabretooth, but the hero would have gone up against Magneto in the final battle.

Unfortunately, this script never made it into development, although no one is truly sure why. However, Kalogridis previously discussed her opinions on the importance of Wolverine as a character in any X-Men film adaptation with The Hollywood Reporter.

"[Richard Donner and Joel Silver] called me about another project they were doing, and I came into the office and they had all of these X-Men figures all over the place and they were like, "So we're trying to decide if this should be the original X-Men, or it should be X-Men involving Wolverine." My oldest son is named Logan, so I'm like, "I'm feeling pretty strongly that you want to go the Wolverine route."

Various Gambit and Deadpool rumors

Hugh Jackman has made it pretty clear that he wants Logan to be the final word on his portrayal of Wolverine. However, that hasn't stopped Ryan Reynolds from constantly hounding the actor to reprise the role for a team-up with his Deadpool.

"I think convincing Hugh [to return] would be a near-impossible feat, but there's no human being I love more than Hugh Jackman in that universe, and equally so as a friend. He's just the best," Reynolds told Express in 2018. "I already miss him as Logan, so I'm one of those guys that whenever I see him, I'm like, 'Come on, man. Just one more. Come on. We'll do it together. It'll be fun. Come on! On three. Here we go, together. One, two three, together,' and it's always just me saying it."

Jackman has since responded saying that it's not in the cards. However, the duo's friendly relationship on social media could make a cameo all the more surprising.

In addition, the Gambit movie, which has been locked in development hell for years, is rumored to include Mr. Sinister as the villain. He crosses paths with Gambit as part of his origin story and tasks him with stealing from the Weapon X Program, according to CinemaBlend. As a result, rumors have spread that Jackman could reprise the role one more time in an effort to usher in a new generation of Origins movies.

Sadly, it doesn't look like either are happening anytime soon thanks to the Disney/Fox deal.