It was inevitable, of course, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept when the tragedy finally arrives. Actor Hugh Jackman, who rose to fame for his iconic portrayal of the superhero Wolverine in the X-Men blockbuster franchise, announced he will play the hairy claw-sporting mutant for “one last time.”
His revelation of planned retirement from the character came via Instagram and Twitter. A follow-up tweet from director James Mangold, who directed Jackman’s previous solo outing The Wolverine in 2013, confirmed the “one last time” in question is another Wolverine solo sequel, not his crowd pleasing cameo in X-Men: Age of Apocalypse. So yes, Jackman’s awesome stint as Wolverine is coming to an end soon.
Having appeared as Wolverine in eight films so far —X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past , and X-Men: Apocalypse – Jackman has appeared as the same superhero longer and more often than any other actor has portrayed a single superhero (although Robert Downey Jr. is catching up fast, with seven films under his Iron Man belt as of last month’s Captain America: Civil War). He’s the only live-action Wolverine we’ve ever known, and has embodied the character perfectly for 16 years, so his departure is going to leave a major hole in the franchise.
Now consider that the series is actually gaining in popularity and expanding, so that besides the third Wolverine solo movie, there is a Deadpool film currently filming and a Gambit solo spin-off planned. For now, let’s just take him at his word that the next solo Wolverine film will really be his last. If that’s true, then what should Fox do once Jackman has ridden off into the sunset?
Recast, of course. They can’t just drop Wolverine as a character from the series, well, they could kill him off and go with X-23 but I think there would be riots. So the only option is recasting. Which brings us to the gist of this piece — who should play the new Wolverine? I’ve got my top 3 options for you here, so read on and see which actors might turn up on the shortlist for the franchise’s most beloved and most stabby superhero!
1. Tom Hardy — A terrific actor who is also great at physical roles. Tom would bring a new approach to Wolverine and instill the character with even more of the brooding sensibilities and short temper we’re familiar with from the comics. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was more of a heroic and mostly nice guy with a sly sense of humor, whereas Tom might give us the anti-hero approach who resides more often in the grayest shades of morality.
2. Penn Badgley — Let’s establish that yes, Badgley has not only the right looks for Wolverine, but also particularly for the existing cinematic version of the character. So if we’re just casting based on appearance, Penn surely ends up as a top finalist to play Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. But Penn is also a really top-notch actor, receiving praise for his performances in the series Gossip Girl and more recently for his role in the film Margin Call, making his more than just physically suited to play Wolverine.
3. Kit Harington — With a loyal fanbase among geek culture already, Kit has both the strong acting chops and the right look to continue a Wolverine portrayal in keeping with the legacy Hugh Jackman will leave behind. Brooding yet always honorable, angry but good at heart — that’s not only Wolverine, it’s Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, and he’s done a remarkable job for several years with that character. While Kit previously made remarks about wanting to do a superhero film that is more campy and doesn’t take the material so seriously, I’m sure he’d have no trouble jumping into the Wolverine role and approaching the performance just as seriously as he has in Game of Thrones’ fantasy storyline.
Alright, I know I said top 3, but there are so many possibilities and I kept coming back to this one.
4. Scott Caan — Son of the great James Caan, Scott is an award-winning actor best known for his excellent performances in Entourage and Hawaii Five-O (the latter bringing him a Golden Globe nomination). He’s got the charisma and presence to bring us a different take on Wolverine that bridges the rougher comic persona with the more classically heroic film incarnation. And to be blunt, Scott’s height and build make him physically a great choice more suited to the source material’s depiction and reputation. At 38, Scott is older than the other names on this list, so he’s perhaps also best able to continue the “grizzled veteran” aspect of the character that Hugh Jackman has perfected.
And there you have it, dear readers, the top three best choices to take over the role of Wolverine if and when Hugh Jackman leaves the franchise! Of course there are a lot of others who could have been on this list from Garrett Hedlund to Jake Gyllenhaal, but I think this list provides a range of ages and types that gives us plenty to think about.
What do you think of these suggestions, and who would you add to the list? Do you think they should go with a different storyline and leave Wolverine out? Are you excited about the idea of Hugh Jackman coming out of retirement in another 15 years to play Old Man Logan? Let me know in the comments below!