No, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine won’t be making his return to the X-Men franchise in Dark Phoenix this weekend, let’s just get that out of the way right up top. But it’s not just because the actor hung up the claws following the release of Logan in 2017. As writer/director Simon Kinberg explains in a new interview, there was actually a larger, much more practical reason that Jackman’s Wolverine wasn’t included in what will ultimately be the final entry in this version of the long-running franchise. This is the first time he hasn’t appeared in a proper X-Men movie, and he was at least mentioned in the first Deadpool.

Dark Phoenix, much like 2006’s much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand, will be an adaptation of the Phoenix Saga from the pages of Marvel Comics. It’s one of the most beloved tales not just in the history of the famed mutants, but in all of Marvel Comics. Those who have read it are likely to recall the story features a love triangle between Jean Grey, Cyclops and Wolverine. This was explored in X-Men: The Last Stand but it’s that very love triangle that possibly prevented Wolverine’s inclusion.

This movie takes place in the same timeline as X-Men: First Class, a movie in which Hugh Jackman makes a brief cameo appearance. While Logan gave the character a proper goodbye, in the franchise’s (admittedly messy) timeline, Jackman’s Wolverine could have, in theory, appeared alongside Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey and Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops. Though, it’s Turner’s age, in comparison to Jackman’s, that gave Simon Kinberg pause. Here’s what he had to say about it.

“If you know the Dark Phoenix story, you’d want to really service the love story between Logan and Jean. And I think the notion of Hugh Jackman, as great as he looks for his age, and Sophie Turner, it didn’t sit well with me. Or anyone else!”

Whether or not Hugh Jackman would have been willing to appear is irrelevant. The actor has repeatedly expressed that he’s done with the character but it’s possible, however unlikely, that he could have been swayed somehow. But as Simon Kinberg, who makes his directorial debut with Dark Phoenix, lays out, Sophie Turner is 23-years-old, whereas Jackman is 50. That’s a pretty significant age gap and would have made things potentially messy. With that in mind, it was best, in the filmmaker’s mind, to just simplify that particular plot thread and eliminate Wolverine from the equation.

 

Disney completed their merger with Fox back in March. That means the X-Men will eventually be folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that, this movie, for better or for worse, is going to be the final entry in the main X-Men franchise. The New Mutants is still set for release next year. But, as far as we know, none of the core characters are going to appear. In that way, it’s sad Wolverine won’t be included as he’s been a huge part of this universe. Though his exclusion does make sense. Dark Phoenix arrives in theaters on June 7. This news was previously reported by Rolling Stone.