Is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Too Big for the MCU’s X-Men to Ignore?

Since the 2017 release of Logan, Hugh Jackman has made it clear he has no interest in returning to play Wolverine again. Still, fans remain hopeful the actor will reconsider. Now the Marvel Cinematic Universe is gearing up for an X-Men reboot. But is Jackman’s Wolverine too iconic to ignore?

Hugh Jackman at the Japan premiere of 'X-men Origins: Wolverine'
Hugh Jackman at the Japan premiere of ‘X-men Origins: Wolverine’ | Yamada HITOSHI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Only one actor played Wolverine throughout the entire ‘X-Men’ series

From 2000 to 2019, Fox made a dozen X-Men movies. And through it all, Jackman is the only actor to appear on screen in every incarnation. In the original trilogy, Jackman’s Wolverine is at the front of the ensemble cast. Then, he reprised the role throughout the First Class series, serving as a lead character in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

As the ostensible face of the franchise, Jackman is also the only actor from the original films to get his own spin-off movie. Even when the actor doesn’t sign on to star in the X-Men series, he pops up anyway. The Deadpool movies, for example, use both Jackman’s likeness and archival footage to bring his Wolverine into Ryan Reynolds’ movies.

Only one of the 12 Fox X-Men movies — 2019’s Dark Phoenix — features no appearance or reference to Jackman’s Wolverine. It’s also the only one of the bunch that was an undisputed box office bomb. Coincidence? We think not.

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Hugh Jackman shaped how audiences see the character

Much like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, audiences have never met any version of Wolverine but the one Jackman played. Heroes like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man can now be rebooted with ease. Multiple actors have taken on those roles in the past. But Jackman’s Wolverine is unique.

Any actor who steps into the role will inevitably face comparisons. And the MCU must tread carefully to introduce a new Wolverine. Stray too far from what fans loved about Jackman, and Marvel risks alienating them. But if the MCU’s Wolverine emulates it, the new star faces an even more difficult task.

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The MCU’s X-Men could use the multiverse to acknowledge Jackman

Comic book fans are quick to point out how much Jackman’s Wolverine diverges from the source material. But the impact of his performance cannot be understated. Still, we can’t blame Marvel for wanting a fresh start. After all, the 51-year-old Jackman has put his time into the physically demanding role. It’s time for a younger star to carry Wolverine forward.

But before that happens, the MCU has a rare opportunity to acknowledge Jackman’s Wolverine one last time. Phase 4 will introduce the multiverse, and signs point to this concept being used to integrate Fox’s X-Men into the MCU. If that’s the case, Jackman could make one last cameo.

With his Wolverine canonically from another Earth, a new version can then be introduced without additional pressure. Fans can one more appearance by Jackman’s Wolverine. But Marvel can move on and take the X-Men into a new direction without fear of replacing what’s come before. Everyone wins.