What Does Wolverine's Death in the Comics Mean for the Future of the Films?
What would the X-Men look like without Wolverine? Fans of the Marvel comics are about to find out. In September, Marvel will debut a 4-part miniseries called Death of Wolverine in which the fan-favorite X-Men character, well, dies. Even if you've never picked up a comic book, your heart probably started beating a little quickly at the news. After all, does Wolverine's death in the comics mean that we might one day stop seeing Hugh Jackman hairy, clawed up, and shirtless? Say it ain't so, Marvel!
Any adaptation of X-Men is pretty much incapable of going forward without Wolverine appearing somewhere. Even X-Men: First Class, a film that followed the very first X-Men long before Charles Xavier was ever known as Professor X, had a cameo scene where Charles and Erik Lensherr tried to recruit him a bar. Wolverine had no part in the rest of the movie and he wasn't mentioned at all before or after that scene, but it's kind of a given at this point that if the X-Men are happening then Wolverine has to be somehow involved. That's why the sequel to X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, features Wolverine as the main character, the uniting factor between the X-Men of the past and the X-Men of the future. They've got to make up for the sheer lack of him in the first movie somehow.
Wolverine has come close to dying in the comics many times, but he's always been too popular to ever truly bite the bullet. Besides, this is the universe of comic books. Even after Death of Wolverine comes out, someone will find a way to bring him back. The real question is, what will Wolverine's death mean for the future of the movies? The superhero trend is the hot new thing in movies right now and eventually Hollywood is going to start looking for stories that stand out from everyone else's. If the Amazing Spider-Man 2 spoilers are to be believed, then it's going to be the first movie at the height of the trend to kill off a major, fan-favorite character. What if Gwen Stacy's death opens the door for Twentieth Century Fox to think that adapting the Death of Wolverine is the best way to keep the X-Men franchise fresh?
On the one hand, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. As much as we love Wolverine, he's always been overexposed. There are a lot of X-Men with a lot of interesting stories that get shoved to the wayside in favor of continuing to shine the spotlight on Wolverine. We've seen as many Wolverine stories as there are out there to tell. At this point, his death would be welcome just to see something new.
On the other hand, it's literally impossible to imagine there being any more X-Men movies without Wolverine. If Jackman ever decided to hang up the claws, then it would be considered blasphemy to people who grew up watching the movies or the cartoons. Ten out of ten people agree that Wolverine is one of their favorite X-Men, if not their most favorite, so debuting a movie without him is just asking for there to be rioting in the streets.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is cramming a lot of X-Men into a single movie, almost as if they're hoping at least one will catch the crowd's attention around all of the Wolverine, and the eighth movie in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse, is coming out in 2016, two years after the comics debut Death of Wolverine. If that movie is the last that we see of Wolverine, does that spell the end of the franchise?
Hopefully not. I still have my fingers crossed to see Jennifer Lawrence in that Mystique spin-off.