What’s Next for Hugh Jackman Now That He’s Done With Wolverine?
Hugh Jackman has been in eight X-Men movies since the year 2000, all but two of them. In every film that he starred in he was consistently the most prominent face of the production, playing the iconic Wolverine. Logan though, is his last time as the role that made him a movie star. This is conveyed in no uncertain terms in the film itself.
He doesn't heal from this.
Logan’s death isn’t just the bittersweet end to a film, it’s the dirge of someone we grew up with. The question then arises, did Jackman do Wolverine justice?
Wolverine, from cradle to grave.
Wolverine's canonical death in the comics as he recounts the life he's lived.
From Captain America’s WWII origins to his clash with his comrades in Civil War, Marvel is delivering a kind of highlight reel for some of their characters’ decades long histories. For Wolverine, this covered the Weapon X program, his rivalry with Sabretooth, butting heads with Cyclops, mentoring Rogue, his relationship with Jean Grey, his adventures in Japan, and now his life given to save innocent mutants. It’s condensed or altered but it’s a basic outline of Wolverine’s life. We’ve seen this guy go through a lot and Jackman gave us someone to follow through it.
A whole different animal:
"Ya did all right, Bub."
Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine was never completely accurate. Originally Wolverine in the comics was almost feral. Jackman’s Wolverine was never as vicious as the original either. It’s only now in Logan do we see that rage but that actually works even better as now he has a reason to be angry instead of tough guy bravado. Jackman’s Wolverine emphasized his humanity and toned down his attitude to mostly sarcasm as opposed to defiance. It made general audiences able to root for him as a cynic who comes to fight for a righteous cause. As the character we followed for most of the films, for good or ill, having him be more sympathetic was a good change.
Was he "the best at what he did?"
Logan in one of the few happy moments in the film's runtime.
Jackman’s attachment to the role is quite touching. Taking more creative control for X-Men Origins: Wolverine didn’t make the best movie but it showed a passion for the part and material. Fans like myself admire that in actors who bring our heroes to life. Loosely adapting the comic Old Man Logan into an R-rated swan song gave Jackman’s Wolverine a dignified end. In the world of franchise, a satisfying end is leagues better than a torturously drawn out milking of any interest or enthusiasm from consumer or creator. So, the man deserves respect for taking his final bow and trying to go out on a high note. I am heartbroken at the end of Jackman’s career as Wolverine but I am so thankful for his commitment and enthusiasm. He wasn’t the Wolverine but he was my Wolverine.
So what's next for Hugh Jackman?
"Yeah, this is the guy we want playing our razor clawed killing machine!"
Jackman’s next project is playing P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, in The Greatest Showman now in post-production. Which makes sense. For those only familiar with Jackman as Wolverine it might come as a surprise to see him in films such as the Prestige, Australia, and most notably Les Miserables. Jackman started as a theater actor and this shows why he has a tendency toward the camp. Which has negative connotations but simply means consciously evoking the stylization and pageantry of theater. So, Hugh Jackman playing someone who defined himself as a showman before all else makes sense. Now, while I have nothing but glowing praise for the film, that is because I have followed the series since inception. While sequels should be able to justify their own existence outside of the previous film, they are ideally more fulfilling as continuations of a story and characters we care about. Prime example? Any individual Star Wars movie may be good but Return of the Jedi would not warrant half its emotional investment if the two previous movies didn’t exist. By extension The Force Awakens wouldn’t be the triumphant return it was hailed as if the entire previous saga wasn’t so embedded into memory.
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