By the year 2000, the X-Men franchise had become one of the bestselling comic book properties of all time, was adapted into a highly successful Saturday morning animated television series, had its massive roster of characters included in a string of well-regarded video games, and saw myriad of merchandise tie-ins including action figures, T-shirts, and snack foods. The X-Men were on top of the world and didn’t really show any signs of stopping from taking over all of pop culture, but they had yet to break into the live action film (sans for a terrible Generation X made for television movie… yeesh).
When acclaimed director Bryan Singer and 20th Century Fox teamed up to make millions of X-Men fans around the world finally see their favorite mutants grace the silver screen, there was a lot riding on how the film X-Men would handle many beloved characters. As casting news came to light, fans greeted it with mixed reactions. But one casting choice left many fans scratching their heads and wondering who in the world was Hugh Jackman and why was he Wolverine? The ruggedly handsome Australia stage actor, who’s about a foot taller than his character in the comics, would answer that with nearly 20 years of devotion to the character.
15 THE CLOTHES MAKE THE MUTANT
Hugh Jackman gave fans so much to love as his tenure as Wolverine. He redefined the character and made him his own and seemed to love every minute of it. But the one thing we never got to see was the costume. You know, the costume. No big ears and yellow spandex ever graced the screen in a theatrical release. Sure, it was joked about in the first X-Men film and there was a deleted teaser that never paid off from The Wolverine, but we were left wanting more.
If the day comes where Jackman dons the claws once more, please, please, PLEASE let him squeeze into the classic comic book costume. The fact that X-Men: Apocalypse called back to some of the teams classic getups makes the fact we never got to see Logan in one hurt even more.
14 CLAWS ARE CLAWS
Sometimes the simple juxtaposition of two images is enough to get a chuckle. Especially when one of those images is of a cat making a silly face and the other is a raged-out, naked man about to embark on a blood-soaked frenzy through a secret government facility. The fact that the imagers have so much in common despite their disparate origins, makes their comparison even more ridiculous.
Honestly, how most cats behave when they are dropped (or politely ushered) into a body of water is comically comparable to the berserker rage out of Wolverine. And while most of us would survive a tabby clawing session (not without some nasty scratches), dealing with ten pounds of furry craziness is way more manageable than dealing with three hundred pounds of it.
13 THE FEELS
When Hugh Jackman announced that he was retiring form the role of Wolverine after the film Logan, many fans were left with feelings of trepidation and sadness. This was an actor, many of us grew up watching Jackman play the world’s most famous mutant. He turned a character that was more or less a house hold name into an international sensation over the course of 17 years and gave us some amazing (and not so amazing) films.
Saying goodbye is tough. Luckily, Jackman bowed out while on top. Logan was both a critical and box office hit and set a new bar for how films could portray popular superheroes in major motion pictures. This picture of Jackman peering out from a car window with a longing expression plastered across his weathered face is how we all felt as the credits rolled on Wolverine swansong.
12 OLD MAN LOGAN
Seeing Wolverine in the sad state he was in when we meet him in the film Logan was upsetting for longtime fans of the X-Men films. The once virile Logan became a shell of his former self, dealing with the crippling world around him and his own mortality. With his healing factor on the fritz and inability to get his adamantium claws to cooperate properly, this the Wolverine we’d hope to never see.
To think that just a couple years prior, at least in real time, Hugh Jackman was ripped beyond belief in the film The Wolverine, had us bummed out. And while on an aesthetic level the Logan we watched slice and dice baddies on screen for almost 20 years was gone, this haggard man was still our Logan.
11 ALKAKI LAKE WAKE UP
The secluded location of Alkali Lake is the second most frequently visited location in the X-Men film franchise, next to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Given the immense popularity of Hugh Jackman’s performance as Wolverine/Logan, this isn’t really a surprise. The shady history of Wolverine is one of the things that keeps his character intriguing. The horrific, mind-splintering experiments Logan was subjected to rattle audiences and make them want to leer a little closer as one man’s haunted history. It’s like watching a train wreck, only you know how it derails and you know the outcome.
Logan emerging from the Adamantium grafting procedure is one of the most iconic scenes in X-Men history. From the pages of Marvel Comics Presents’ story line “Weapon X” by Barry Windsor-Smith to the thrashing blades of Hugh Jackman in X-Men: Apocalypse, the moment has become ubiquitous with Wolverine.
10 NOT SO FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR TO THE NORTH
The film X-Men Origins: Wolverine is brimming with problematic characterizations, bad CGI claws, and awful dialogue. However one of the most overt things going on in the film is the constant reminder that Wolverine is indeed Canadian. He’s as Canadian as Rush, Tim Horton’s, and the Toronto Maple Leafs (all national treasures). Wolverine’s Canadian-ness is solidified in the film through a quick exchange of dialogue between William Stryker (played by Danny Huston) and The Ol' Canucklehead himself.
When Stryker asks Wolverine to come back to fight for his country (improperly referring to the United States), Logan simply replies “I’m Canadian” and drives off. While Canadians are often stereotyped as polite and unimposing, Wolverine is a character that circumvents that notion. If there is a fictional Canadian character with less chill, we haven’t met them…unless you count Deadpool.
9 THE ONE AND ONLY
Most movie stars don’t seem to mind spreading the love to multiple superhero and super villain roles. Guys like Chris Evans and Ryan Reynolds have played more comic book characters in film than you could shake a stick at. And while the aforementioned pair of actors will be best remembered for their performances as Captain America and Deadpool, respectively, they will always be recognizable as another pop culture figure all the same.
But when it comes to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, there is no other point of reference. Hugh Jackman is, and always will be, Wolverine. Now, Logan will certainly get recast in the future, but just like Christopher Reeve as Superman, Jackman has truly defined the character on the big screen in way that may never be duplicated.
8 WOLVERINE: LIVE! ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Before sliding into the role of Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s 2000 film X-Men, little was known about actor Hugh Jackman. He was practically unknown to American audiences but had garnered some attention on Australian television and his on stage musical performances, most notably playing Gaston in the stage adaptation of the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast.
Jackman’s singing, dancing, and larger-than-life old Hollywood performance chops would not really be seen by American audiences until already having established himself as one of the most recognizable faces in comic book movies. In films like The Greatest Showman and Les Misérables and his hosting job of the 81st Academy Awards, people who saw Jackman only as the snarling, reluctant hero, Wolverine got to see where the actor honed his entertainment chops.
7 A HUGH JACKMAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Hugh Jackman seemed to have come out of left field when he was announced as playing the part of Wolverine almost 20 years ago. Many fans had no idea who the actor was or that he was even Australian when they attended screenings of X-Men in the summer of 2000. Not letting your accent slip is an admirable skill for any actor, but being able to find the nuances in training yourself to sound like an immortal Canadian who happens to kick a lot of butt in America while not being from either country is even more impressive.
Despite his massive stature and charming off screen persona, Jackman is a bit of a chameleon once he’s in a role. He can sell you on the notion that he’s a vampire hunter, a Victorian Era magician, a French dissident, or a Canadian mutant with metal claws. The guy has no limits.
6 GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR LOGAN
Arguably the most underappreciated work in Christopher Nolan’s filmography is the 2006 movie, The Prestige. Based on the Christopher Priest novel of the same name, The Prestige follows the exploits of two rival magicians, played by Hugh Jackman (better known to the world as Wolverine) and Christian Bale (the man who would define Batman for a film-going generation).
While the casting alone is the stuff of nerdy geek outs (future Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson is also in the film) the content of the film was much dourer than what most fans would expect to see in a big budget super blockbuster…even when compared to the grim DCEU films. The real icing on the cake in terms of casting is Andy Serkis and David Bowie. Their inclusion means that audiences actually got a scene where Ziggy Stardust and Gollum work with Wolverine to combat Batman. Talk about a weird mashup.
Hugh Jackman’s physique is hard to process sometimes when you see him shirtless on screen. The man, at the age of almost 50, has abdominal muscles that many of us had no idea even existed. But getting that ripped look comes from hours upon hours of training in the gym and a strict diet. While diet and exercise are of course the corner stone of any sort of healthy lifestyle, seeing Jackman in action is awe-inspiring.
In the comics, Logan has to walk around with a metal-laced skeleton, adding quite a bit of weight to his already dense frame. This means that even just walking around, the guy is technically working out. But the reality of the situation isn’t as passive. Do you even lift, bub, indeed.
4 ONE MORE TIME, HUGH
If we had our way, Hugh Jackman would play Wolverine until he physically couldn’t. We’re well aware he’s no spring chicken anymore, but after the garbage fire that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the mediocre improvement of its follow up The Wolverine, we really wanted to see more than one stellar Wolverine solo film starring Jackman.
Actors can certainly grow out of roles. In fact, it’s healthy that they do. Being pigeonholed into one particular character can have irreversible damage to their career. Just look at poor Christopher Reeve who never got while the getting was good and cranked out not one, but two abysmal Superman films. But it still felt like Jackman had more he could have offered to the character of Wolverine. Maybe, just maybe, one of the new X-Men films Fox has on the docket will slide him in one more time. Fingers crossed.
3 THE MUSIC MAN
Australian actors who make it big in the United States often have a knack for singing. Russell Crowe has displayed this in his pub rock band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. Nicole Kidman won an Academy Award for her performance in Moulin Rouge! and Hugh Jackman displayed his musical ability in the 2012 big screen adaptation of Les Misérables (along with Russell Crowe, no less).
Jackman is nothing short of a renaissance man. He has amazing vocal range and sells his emotions through song with some of the best Broadway performers. Jackman would further show off his vocal skills in The Greatest Showman, despite the subject of the film being portrayed in a much shinier light than the man was in real life (seriously, P.T. Barnum was kind of awful).
2 A REAL HERO
No all heroes wear capes. Come to think of it, most heroes don’t wear capes… or cool yellow and brown spandex with big, black pointy ears, but that’s neither here nor there, is it? One of the most endearing things about Hugh Jackman’s public persona is his charitability and genuinely big heart. Jackman’s philanthropy during the seventeen years he spent as the claw-wielding X-Man, Wolverine is heartwarming.
One of the most notably moments of Jackman’s series of good deeds was during his time shooting X-Men: Days of Future Past in Canada. During this period he donated ten thousand dollars to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. While it’s hard to quantify just how those funds were used, surely some of the kids who benefit from this foundation are proud to say that Wolverine saved the day.
1 THE CURIOUS CASE OF JAMES HOWLETT
So is Hugh Jackman a time traveler or is just simply gifted with really good genes? Either option is feasible when you look at images of Jackman in the film X-Men (which he was by no means a schlub in) and compare them to the his 20-pack he was sporting in the film The Wolverine over a decade later.
When the X-Men film franchise threw time travel into the mix in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the ever-shifting physique of Hugh Jackman became even more striking. Now, it’s pretty much impossible to quantify the timeline of the X-Men films in order to have them make a lick of sense, but the only thing more unbelievable than Logan losing all that muscle mass over the course of twenty years is Michael Fassbender aging into Sir Ian McKellan in the same timeframe (no offense).