“I think times have changed now”: Hugh Jackman Was Very Close to Breaking Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Record Before Fox Ensured it Never Happened

Change is never easy, especially when it involves beloved characters and iconic franchises!

“I think times have changed now”: Hugh Jackman Was Very Close to Breaking Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Record Before Fox Ensured it Never Happened


  • Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold aimed to immortalize The Wolverine as the first mature audience-oriented spectacle in the X-Men universe.
  • The Avengers, a PG-13 Marvel flick with an impressive amount of special effects, captured the attention of the industry in 2013.
  • Ironically, Mangold’s unfulfilled vision gave The Wolverine a distinct advantage that helped it stand out from the crowd, in contrast to Fox’s desire for greater intensity.
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Before Ryan Reynolds sliced his way into box office lore with Deadpool’s razor-sharp wit, another beloved actor was only a claw’s length away from making R-rated comic book history. Yes, Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold intended to immortalize The Wolverine as the first mature audience-oriented spectacle in the X-Men universe.


Consider this: it is 2013, and the cinematic world is enthralled by PG-13, effects-laden marvels like The Avengers, whose paint is still drying on its vibrant canvas. 

Even though Fox steered the ship towards safer waters, could anyone have predicted how Mangold’s unrealized vision would paradoxically give The Wolverine a cutting edge that allowed it to cut through the din of its competitors?

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

The director, as revealed in a candid chat with Den of Geek, teased us with thoughts on the changing studio setting that ultimately unfurled the red carpet for Logan to bask in the R-rated renaissance birthed by Deadpool. Can we not marvel at the thought of Jackman coming so close to breaking Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool record before Fox made sure it never happened? 

In an attempt to give the audience the greatest experience possible, the director and the actor went above and beyond to make sure the 2013 movie was R-rated. 

James Mangold’s Vision for an R-Rated The Wolverine 

James Mangold, the director of Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, Knight and Day, and other movies, took on the X-Men mythology with The Wolverine. However, his initial idea for the movie was not the same as what was released in theaters.


The director, 60, had put in a great deal of effort to immortalize the Wolverine story in a way that would live on forever. Given the amount of work that went into making the film the best it could be, his storytelling skills really stood out

Deadpool 3
Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman in Deadpool 3

Back in 2017, in a chat with Den of Geek, he went into further detail about how many things would change if the film had an R-rating and how things would be much more difficult if it didn’t. The extent to which the story can be explored would be restricted if it were intended only for younger viewers.

Consequently, he sought the aid of Hugh Jackman to ensure that the movie obtained the necessary rating, as Mangold told the outlet:


“Because the second the marketing arm of a studio realizes it cannot market to children, five or six creative things happen. The scenes can go deeper, and can be written for adults. Not just language, not just [violence], as you’re saying, but the themes can be more interesting, the words you’re using can be more complicated. The ideas can be more complicated.”

Thus, why was the theatrical version of The Wolverine rated PG-13? According to Mangold, everything was just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The R-Rated Gambit: Fox’s Bold Choice for Wolverine’s Story

Watching The Wolverine will allow you to see what James Mangold intended to create. Its narrative revolves around mortality and death. For the majority of the film, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is tormented by the memory of the late Famke Janssen as Jean Grey.

Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman in Logan (2017)
Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman in Logan (2017)

In spite of the introduction of a few superfluous X-Men characters, the first two-thirds of the movie is a neo-noir drama taking place in a mutant world. It is not until the third act of The Wolverine that the movie starts to resemble a standard superhero movie, complete with a gigantic CGI foe that Logan must defeat. 


Mangold acknowledged that 20th Century Fox was responsible for the third act’s tonal shift in an interview with Den of Geek:

“I think I wasn’t quite as sharp-elbowed in a couple of cases as I should’ve been, so yes is the answer.”

The issue was that Fox wanted him to make PG-13 superhero flicks with a lot of computer graphics since that was the genre’s biggest thing in 2013 after The Wolverine came out. In due course, Mangold would release an extended cut called The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition, but even that fell short of his original intentions.

He never really got the chance to create the gritty, more mature Wolverine film he had in mind until he was given the green light to approach Logan as an R-rated production. Even though the R-rated Deadpool was a big hit a year before Logan debuted, Mangold told Den of Geek he thought a change in the studio’s policies was also a big factor:


“I do think there was a bit of a regime change at Fox, between the two movies. The people running Fox now have a clearer understanding that their audiences have changed. I don’t think when I made ‘The Wolverine’ [I had] gone as far as I have on this film. I think times have changed now.”

Paradoxically, The Wolverine’s ability to distinguish himself from the other superhero crowd came from the lingering elements of Mangold’s original design. While it may not have broken Deadpool’s R-rated record, The Wolverine still managed to make a lasting impact on the superhero genre.

Both Deadpool and The Wolverine are streaming on Disney Plus.


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1520

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1500 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.