From Wolverine to Logan
Writer: Casey Lee
See Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine one last time in "Logan".
Being a relative unknown outside of his native Australia, it is no wonder that Hugh Jackman was not the first choice of director Bryan Singer to be the Wolverine. The role had first been offered to fellow Australian Russell Crowe, who rejected it and other actors such as Mel Gibson, Aaron Eckhart, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Viggo Mortensen, Edward Norton, Keanu Reeves and Gary Sinise were considered. The role was momentarily locked for actor Dougray Scott who had to drop from the role for "Mission: Impossible II". Without an actor ready to bear his claws, Crowe then suggested his friend Hugh Jackman for an audition, and at merely 3 weeks before the start of shooting, it was finally decided that Jackman would be donning the X-Men suit who would never look back since.
Since its first appearance in 2000's "X-Men", it is rather impressive to see that a single actor has been dedicated to the same role for close to two decades that no actor in any superhero costume can say they have stayed in for that long.
While it is arguably the role that made Hugh Jackman the household name that he is today, it was not meant to last since Jackman has proven himself a far more developed actor to be just wearing the spandex.
With "Logan" being his last possible appearance as the Wolverine for the "X-Men" franchise, we look at how far Hugh Jackman has come to make the role iconic over its 17 years.
Found in a dirty cage fight and without any memory of the past 15 years, the Wolverine was introduced to the world of the X-Men with a teenage Rogue, when the battle between Professor Xavier's gifted children and Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants is already at full swing at each other. Being a hesitant member of the X-Men, who Professor Xavier mistakenly believes is the target of Magneto to recruit into his Brotherhood, the movie also establishes the Wolverine's rivalry with Sabertooth who has the same fast-healing powers as him. By proving his worth and willingness for his help, Professor Xavier gives a lead to Wolverine that may reveal his past to him.
Heading towards the military installation that was pointed by Professor Xavier at the end of "X-Men", Wolverine finds nothing that reveals about his past. When an anti-mutant Colonel Stryker attacks and abducts much of the mutants at Professor Xavier's school, Wolverine rescues them with the help of Magneto's Brotherhood. Here he is told that Stryker was to one who implanted Wolverine with his adamantium skeleton that gave him his adamantium claws as part of a experimental weapons program. This also brings Wolverine head to head with another mutant who was has been imbued with adamantium; Yuriko. The fight between them alone took 3 weeks to shoot.
"X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006)
By the end of the first trilogy, the Wolverine had become a mainstay in the X-Men team. While the story was adapted from the "Dark Phoenix Saga" centering on Jean Grey, the Wolverine was given the duty of being its emotional anchor than the other characters. Believing that Jean had died to protect them in the events of "X2", Wolverine begins questioning his place with the X-Men and wonders if he should revert to his lone wolf days. When an awakened Phoenix in the form of Jean Grey re-emerges and kills Cyclops, Wolverine becomes even more disgusted that Professor Xavier had to tamper with Jean's mind to suppress the fiery entity inside of her. However, after witnessing the Phoenix disintegrating Professor Xavier, Wolverine is forced to personally end her in the climactic battle at the end.
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009)
The first prequel and spinoff to the "X-Men" series is unsurprisingly focused on its favourite character and it is here that we fully grasp the real past of the Wolverine. Alive since the 19th century, Wolverine's innate healing powers and bone claws are awakened at the death of his father. Since then, Wolverine, then known as Logan, has lived through wars and even an execution.
"X-Men: First Class" (2011)
Huddling away from society as he lives as a lumberjack, Logan is approached to join the Weapon X programme by Colonel Stryker. After going through the process to gain his adamantium skeleton, Stryker attempts to betray Logan and manages to wipe out his memory.
While "X-Men: First Class" was meant as a reboot of the franchise with an all new cast as the familiar characters, but producers did not replace anyone to play the Wolverine. Although the Wolverine barely makes an appearance as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr are building the first mutant team, he does appear in one of the memorable scenes in the shortest cameo. Not wanting to make the same mistakes he did by joining any mutant team, Logan's answer was fast, precise and straight to the point. But we will be seeing the Wolverine again in the new timeline.
"The Wolverine" (2013)
Despite the failures of "X-Men Origin: Wolverine", the love for Hugh Jackman as the character has expanded enough to start exploring more solo material about the mutant. In this direct continuation after "X-Men: The Last Stand", Wolverine is now in Japan where he is kindly asked to see an old Japanese soldier turned corporate leader who Wolverine had saved from an atomic explosion during the bombing of Hiroshima. Given a chance to remove his fast-healing abilities which the Wolverine has grown sick of, he is beset by rivals of his aging benefactor and ends up becoming the unwilling bodyguard to the benefactor's granddaughter. When Wolverine finally uncovers the plot that his benefactor was out to steal Logan's healing abilities at all cost, he puts an end to the reborn Silver Samurai and returns back to the United States, where he is greeted by Magneto and the somehow alive Professor Xavier.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014)
In a bleak future after "The Wolverine", mutants are almost hunted to extinction by the robotic Sentinels built after the death of Dr Bolivar Trask, who was assassinated by Mystique during the 1970s. In an attempt to rewrite history, the last remaining survivors uses Kitty Pryde's powers to send the Wolverine's consciousness sent back in time to stop the assassination from taking place. While inhabiting his own body from the 1970s, Wolverine quickly convinces the younger Charles Xavier and Beast of what they have to do. Here, the Wolverine becomes the bridge that connects both timelines together as he manages to change the future, but his confrontation against Magneto causes this Wolverine to be recovered by Colonel Stryker for what is bound to be the Weapon X programme.
"X-Men: Apocalypse" (2016)
Heavily teased in the trailers, the Wolverine only makes a cameo appearance in this last installment to the second "X-Men" trilogy. After going through the same Weapon X programme since he was recovered in "X-Men: Days of Future Past", Wolverine massacres everyone in the military complex with his newly minted claws except for Colonel Stryker. Although the Wolverine doesn't play a significant part in stopping Apocalypse from bringing the end of the world, it does set him up for his next appearance according to the comic books.
Set in a far future when mutants have not been born for decades, Wolverine reverts back to his old name as Logan, and has become an aging mutant, long after his prime. While tending to a dying Professor Xavier in the remote woods, a young mutant with similar powers as Logan is brought to him and he is asked for help from sinister forces. Despite so many violent depictions of the character in the comic books over the years, the cinematic Wolverine has never shed too much blood to be disqualified from a PG 13 rating. Thanks to the game-changing success of "Deadpool", there has been a paradigm shift in making superhero movies, and it is only fitting that the last possible appearance of Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine would have one final crack at an R-rated take on his own iconic character. Already receiving raving reviews as the best outing the X-Men cinematic franchise has produced, it will be very gratifying to send off this iconic character in his most iconic movie yet.
Cinema Online, 26 February 2017
Catch Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for possibly the last time in "Logan" when it comes to cinemas this 2 March 2017.