Superhero movies bring about all kinds of long-term problems, and one of those facing any thespian placed into the key role of a beloved superhero/heroine is potential type-casting. Many actors dread this particular trope of their occupation, and it has led to many an actor or actress stepping down from/avoiding the role of a lifetime to ensure their career stays relevant and diverse. The second issue is over-exposure, and this goes hand in hand with the T word, making the decision to become a superhero a daunting one. Sure, you might be loved in the role and go onto greatness, but it could also wear thin very fast, and flop after one solitary movie.
It’s an expensive gamble for the studios, and one that many consider when finding their perfect hero. Yet, in a world where we’ve see five Batmen and a trio of Supermen, one actor seems to be standing tall in his role — Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Rumours have been circulating for years that the Australian actor is considering hanging up the sideburns and adamantium claws to walk away from the X-Men franchise for good, and as a result the recasting rumours have been bubbling online. However, according to the creative team behind the franchise, no one can replace Hugh Jackman, and doing so would be an impossible task.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg both agreed that they couldn’t imagine or foresee anyone else working in the role of Wolverine.
“I do think you would want to figure out how to tell more Wolverine stories. So either we would try to entice Hugh to come back and eat more chicken and work out for a few months, or we would have to figure out a creative way to move forward. Honestly, I can’t imagine anybody else playing the part, and there’s not too many characters I can say that for.”
Despite the whispers of Hugh Jackman’s trepidation to continue in the role, nothing became concrete until last year. In an interview with Comic Book, Jackman confirmed that his appearance in Wolverine 3, which is due out in 2017, would be his last as the near-invincible super mutant. His reason for leaving is simple — it’s time to move on.
“It just felt like it was the right time to do it. And let’s be honest, 17 years. I never thought in a million years it would last, so I’m so grateful to the fans for the opportunity of playing it. … I kind of have in my head what we’re going to do in this last one. It just feels like this is the perfect way to go out.”
Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, and rumours of Jackman appearing in X-Men: Apocalypse and even Deadpool 2 are constant on the Internet. Jackman has hinted about stepping down before, and 17 years is a long time to play one particular character, but when it’s as beloved as Wolverine, you can understand his desire to reluctantly leave the role. Jackman has been playing Wolverine since the modern superhero cinematic invasion began, so imagining someone else in his large shoes is impossible, for both fans and the writers alike. Age is a problem when it comes to portraying a super mutant with regenerative abilities and a ripped physique, so expect this one to play out when Jackman feels he is doing the role a disservice, not before.
As the face of the X-Men, Wolverine has been a huge hit since his on-screen debut in 2000. The decision to cast Jackman was a fairly quiet one on its announcement — very rare for such a high profile casting — but he has slotted into the role perfectly and, 17 years later, is still going strong. Fans are already compiling lists on who will replace their favourite X-Man when he steps down, but Jackman has a few thoughts of his own, as revealed by Slash Film.
The other tactic would be to retire Wolverine from the franchise altogether, a decision that could infuriate fans. It makes sense if no male actor can replace such a beloved character on the big screen, and would save harming the legacy left behind by Hugh Jackman. When Channing Tatum was cast as Gambit, Fox were looking for him to become the new anchor of the franchise in light of Jackman’s desire to leave the role. Where this could be a tricky transition, it confirms the studio are at least considering the character’s legacy, and Jackman’s impact, going forward.
Another option is to bring in Laura Kinney (X-23), a female clone of Wolverine who shares several abilities, the same temperament and the same savagery. She took the mantle and namesake of Wolverine in 2015 — in the comics anyway — so if Fox doesn’t want to ruin his character, and wants to sway the comic book followers, they could use this as an alternative.
The future of Wolverine ultimately rests with one person — Hugh Jackman himself, and with people reluctant to recast him until a decision is made, we could be seeing a lot more of the Wolverine we know and love for the next few years. To see a character treated with respect is very rare in the chopping and changing mentality of the superhero world, so if Fox take their time, I think the fans will be happy to wait.
X-Men: Apocalypse will be released on May 27, 2016. Wolverine 3 (working title) will be released on March 3, 2017.
[Image via 20th Century Fox]