What’s Next for Wolverine?
Let’s get the box office stuff out of the way. Hugh Jackman’s curtain call for Wolverine, Logan opened stronger than expected with an $85.3 million haul. If you’re keeping score, this is the fifth-best opening among the X-Men films and Jackman’s best solo outing as the character, beating X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s $85.1 million. Logan also performed well overseas, pulling in an additional $152.5 million in eighty-one markets for a $237.8 million worldwide take. With a $97 million budget, Jackman will go out on top.
For 17 years and over eight movies, Jackman has portrayed Marvel’s most popular mutant with zeal. Outside Ryan Reynolds, no other actor has taken the task of bringing a worthy version of a comic book character to the big screen with such passion. Logan is his final achievement and it appears that they finally got Wolverine right with an edgier, darker movie that allowed them to explore the mutant without reserve.
Jackman and director James Mangold agreed that if they were going to do one last Wolverine story, it needed to be R-rated. “Hugh and I didn’t want to do it if we couldn’t do something very different,” Mangold said at a preview in Los Angeles of Twentieth Century Fox’s 2017 slate. “We both felt like we had made the last movie and we also felt like… there’s a slew of comic book themed films, superhero movies — whatever you want to call them — and I, for one, am feeling kind of an exhaustion watching them, generally.”
I should be clear that while this is Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine, don’t think for one minute that we’ve seen the last of the clawed berserker on the big screen. There’s too much money to be made and there is no doubt that studio execs are dream casting and plotting out a way to turn back the clock and get him back on the screen as soon as possible.
While the X-Men franchise has its share of flaws, it still has brought in over $4.4 billion worldwide.
The obvious plan is to cast younger and pair him up with Reynolds’ Deadpool to give him the rub and maximize the two most popular characters Fox has at the box office.
The only obstacle is casting. Back in 2000, director Bryan Singer was filling his cast for the very first X-Men movie and the casting rumors for Wolverine included a number of big names including Edward Norton, Russell Crowe and Keanu Reeves. Singer gave the nod to the unknown Dougray Scott. But the universe had other ideas. Scott had to drop out of the role because he was shooting Mission: Impossible 2 with Tom Cruise and they were running over their scheduled time. This opened the door for another unknown who had impressed them at auditions: Jackman. Suffice to say, plenty of fans scoffed at the casting, wondering how this actor was going to portray one of the most beloved comic book characters ever and launch a proper franchise for the X-Men. Back then, it wasn’t a sure thing.
Jackman easily won over audiences and went on to leave a very lasting impression. Which can be a hinderance when it comes time to recast and get back to making money. Some are saying that 20th Century Fox should focus their energy on building a franchise around Dafne Keen and X-23 rather than push to find a new Wolverine. I’m sure they’ll try both.
The big question is who’s on their list to take Jackman’s place? I’ve seen a slew of actors that have been tossed around, from Garrett Hedlund to Kit Harington, but the one that has me the most interested in is Tom Hardy. He would give an entirely new take to the character, both physically and mentally. But that’s dream casting and I’ll leave that for the comment section.
For now, thank you to Hugh Jackman for his years of entertainment as Wolverine and good luck to the guy who has to follow him.