Marvel fans may very well have been heartbroken when Hugh Jackman decided to hang up his claws and step away from any future X-Men movies. After all, the actor had portrayed the beloved character of Wolverine for some considerable time – 17 years in all, in fact. As it happens, though, one scenario could very well change his mind about his retirement from the role.
Before Jackman ever began to appear as the mutant on screen, however, he honed his acting skills in his native Australia. His breakthrough came with a part on the TV series Corelli; the show was also where he first encountered future wife Deborra-lee Furness. Then, after making his name on stage Down Under, he scored an Olivier Award nomination for his work in a London production of Oklahoma!
Eventually, though, Jackman landed the role of a lifetime, as Wolverine in the 2000 movie X-Men. But that casting almost didn’t happen. In fact, several more established actors were in the running to portray the hairy antihero, including Mel Gibson, Keanu Reeves, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Edward Norton.
And, in fact, the part of Wolverine was initially offered to Russell Crowe, who was the number one choice of director Bryan Singer. Crowe declined the proposal, however, and suggested that his friend Hugh Jackman would be a good fit in his place. Still, even taking into account that recommendation, Singer picked Dougray Scott. Scott would ultimately bow out of the movie because of an injury and a timing clash with Mission: Impossible 2.
Jackman then auditioned and won the part of Wolverine, three weeks after shooting on X-Men had begun. The role would change his life forever, casting him into the spotlight internationally. What’s more, Jackman would be cast in the next two sequels too: X2 in 2003 and X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006.
Originally, though, Jackman prepared for playing Wolverine by practicing wearing his sharp claws as often as possible. “Every day in my living room, I’d just walk around with those claws to get used to them,” he told The New York Times in 2000. “I’ve got scars on one leg, punctures straight through the cheek, on my forehead. I’m a bit clumsy. I’m lucky I didn’t tell them that when I auditioned.”
And things could have been very different for the actor if he had listened to his spouse. Indeed, Jackman confessed in 2014 that his wife initially advised him not to take on the part. “My wife was the one who said, ‘Don’t do it.’ She read the three pages I was given, because they wouldn’t give me the script,” he told Vulture. “And she was like, ‘This is ridiculous.’”
Fortunately, Jackman didn’t heed her concerns, and he went on to win a Saturn Award for his X-Men role. Before starting the film’s first sequel, however, the star had a tough choice to make. He had been considered for the role of James Bond, prior to Daniel Craig assuming the part; given the timing, though, Jackman chose to turn it down.
And that commitment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was further reflected in Jackman’s portrayal of the mutant in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine – a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy. In fact, Jackman is the only actor to have appeared in all of the movies featuring members of the X-Men from 2000 to 2018.
And while Jackman only had cameo roles in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse, he did reprise his character in a larger capacity for X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. He also notably became the star of 2013’s The Wolverine. But when it came to a third standalone Wolverine movie, Jackman knew that the time had come to say goodbye.
Two years before Logan’s release in 2017, Jackman announced that the film would showcase his final performance as Wolverine. He’d made the difficult decision after eight movies and nearly two decades playing the Marvel character. But the actor would explain exactly why he was ready to move on.
During a 2015 appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, Jackman divulged, “It just felt like it was the right time to do it. And let’s be honest, 17 years. I never thought in a million years it would last, so I’m so grateful to the fans for the opportunity of playing [Wolverine].”
What’s more, Jackman added that he had already decided on Logan’s ending. “I kind of have in my head what we’re going to do in this last one,” he revealed. “It just feels like this is the perfect way to go out.”
And, indeed, Logan saw audiences bid farewell to Wolverine – seemingly for good. Jackman has since moved on, too – most notably through a starring role in The Greatest Showman, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. In 2017, though, the Australian admitted that he would consider returning to the part he is best known for on one condition.
In particular, the star explained that if there had been an opportunity to appear in an Avengers movie, he may well have reconsidered his choice to retire from playing Wolverine. “If that [option] was on the table when I made my decision, it certainly would have made me pause. That’s for sure,” Jackman told Screen Rant.
The actor continued, “Because I always love the idea of [Wolverine] within that dynamic – with the Hulk, obviously, with Iron Man. But there’s a lot of smarter people with MBAs who can’t figure that out.” And although Jackman has since made his choice, he’s still not completely ruling out the idea of reprising Wolverine. “You never know,” he added.
Indeed, as the events of Logan occur in the future, the door is still seemingly open for Jackman to star in any further movies set in the past and present day. And in Marvel’s comic book series, the Avengers and the X-Men have featured together on numerous occasions. But both sets of superheroes meeting on screen hasn’t been a possibility until lately.
Since the X-Men and Deadpool franchises are both owned by Fox, their characters are able to star in movies together. The Avengers, on the other hand, belong to Marvel. However, in late 2017 it was revealed that Marvel’s parent company Disney would be acquiring 21st Century Fox and certain of its properties – including the movie licensing rights to The Avengers. The agreement is predicted to be finalized in the summer of 2019, and once that happens, Wolverine may very well be able to show up in any Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster.
However, in his 2017 interview with Screen Rant, Jackman added that while an Avengers crossover may have changed his mind at one point, he was ready to say goodbye to Wolverine. “It just feels like this is the right time [to leave the character],” he explained. And if Wolverine does appear in a future Avengers movie, it may be someone other than Jackman in the role.
Jackman added to Collider in late 2017, “I think, unfortunately, the ship has sailed for me [to be in an Avengers film], but for someone else I would like to see Wolverine in there.” Even so, Sebastian Stan, who portrays Bucky Barnes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, gave fans hope when he admitted that he still believes Jackman may yet play Wolverine again. “He said a couple of things to me, and I’ll just leave it at that,” Stan said at an Ace Comic Con panel in January 2018. “He’s been thinking about it, and it’s been on his mind.”