Hugh Jackman never turned his back on Wolverine
By DAVID BETANCOURT | The Washington Post | Published: March 4, 2017
Hugh Jackman could have given up on Wolverine a long time ago if he wanted to.
When Bryan Singer briefly left the “X-Men” movie franchise to make “Superman Returns,” not even Jackman’s one-of-a-kind charisma could save 2006’s “X3: The Last Stand,” perhaps the only “X-Men” movie fans prefer to just not talk about because it was so rushed and just not good.
The first two solo Wolverine movies, “X-Men: Origins: Wolverine” (2009) and “The Wolverine” (2013), were OK but not great. Jackman could have said forget it and just stuck to his “X-Men” movie appearances, after helping to bring the franchise back on track with appearances in “X-Men: First Class” (2011, with a very funny and quick cameo) and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014).
Plus, Jackman had just as much star power when he wasn’t Wolverine. He had the clawless appeal — whether in movies (“The Prestige”) or on Broadway — to leave Wolverine behind for good.
And who can forget when Katie Couric asked Jackman during publicity rounds for “The Wolverine” why he continued coming back to the role of everyone’s favorite mutant? (Sorry, Deadpool.) Couric was saying politely, in a way, “You don’t have to keep doing this for these fanboys anymore. You’re better than this.” Jackman responded that he was having fun and that he wouldn’t make Wolverine movies otherwise.
But Jackman never treated the role of Wolverine as though it was something beneath him. That’s part of the reason his Wolverine will always be one of the all-time-best superhero movie performances. With this dedication, Jackman always made it clear that he appreciated where the role of Wolverine had taken him in life and the fans who made his performances as Wolverine so popular.
Jackman always wanted to get it right with Wolverine. He probably knew his solo Wolverine efforts weren’t perfect, but that he owed his fans, the ones that brought him the fame that will still be around now that his Wolverine moviemaking days are over.
“Logan,” Jackman’s first solo Wolverine movie where the story is just as good as Jackman’s performance, is a fitting thank you to the fans who stayed with Jackman until he got a Wolverine movie right.
Jackman is leaving behind a superhero movie performance template that has already been emulated for years. Henry Cavill, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans have all been hitting the weights and bulking up to get that overly muscular superhero look after Jackman showed that you had to dedicate a little sweat and pain to look like a superhero instead of relying on a rubber muscle suit.
Look at how slim Jackman was in his first appearance as Wolverine in “X-Men” and then look at every other performance he gave. During “X-Men,” Jackman didn’t know he was helping create a movie franchise he would be a part of on and off for 17 years. His mortal body in “X-Men” was a testament to that lack of assurance in the franchise. But once he knew he’d be Wolverine frequently, he always made weightlifting and massive protein consumption a part of his life.
And then there’s the hair. Perhaps there is no comic book hairdo more difficult to pull off than Wolverine’s feral locks. But Jackman always made it work, especially in his earlier X-Men films. Jackman knew that his mane was just as important as his triceps.
From the first time he popped his claws in “X-Men,” chomping on a cigar and giving the requisite eyebrow raise, to his final performance in “Logan,” Jackman has given a nearly career-long performance that will forever be a standard in superhero cinema, right up there with Christopher Reeve, Robert Downey Jr and Heath Ledger.
It’s all the more amazing when you consider Jackman never should have made a good Wolverine. He was too tall, too handsome, not Canadian. But he found the animal within and turned it into unforgettable superhero movie magic.
Thanks for the snikts, Hugh.