Ok, so it’s a bit of a cheat, but it’s my column so I’ll mess with the format if I want to. X-Men in 2000 (which does not seem 16 years ago) kicked off the modern age of super hero films. It was the first film to successfully bring a team of super heroes to life. It took it’s subject matter seriously, cast amazing actors like Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, but none of that would’ve mattered if they’d gotten Wolverine wrong. Edward Norton almost ended up playing the part, but in the end it went to the unknown, at the time, Hugh Jackman.
No one has ever owned a comic book character the way Jackman owns Wolverine. It was perfect casting of an extremely talented actor, who would go on to be Oscar nominated for his work in other films. He’s been in every X-Men movie, plus two of his own (with a final one on the way), and it’s hard to imagine what X-Men films will be like without him. He’ll have been in nine films as Logan if Wolverine 3 is indeed his last go-round, and FOX is going to recast the role at some point. Wolverine is too popular a character to sit on the bench. But I pity whoever they cast. Jackman had the audience within seconds of his first appearance in X-Men.
From the very first shot of him in a cage fight, smoking his stogie (which now he can’t do because apparently that’s worse than beheadings or nipples to the MPAA), and just emitting waves of barely contained fury, Jackman had us. All that was left was to see the claws for the very first time. Just a fantastic way to introduce the character. Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men films and X-Men: Days of Future Past, is returning for his fourth film later this month with X-Men: Apocalypse (in which Wolverine will have a small role). We don’t have enough time to do all the X-films before then, but since I already did Days of Future Past (click here if you missed it), we can cover the other Singer films and X-Men: First Class before X-Men Apocalypse opens. I’m looking forward to seeing Wolverine unleashed in his third solo film, but I’ll be melancholy at the end, because we’re saying good-bye to an actor who has put a stamp on a character that may never come close to being equaled.