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Ever since Hugh Jackman made the announcement back in late March that he would soon be permanently retracting his claws as Wolverine, speculation immediately began regarding the long-term future of the character. Yet, when it comes to Jackman’s opinion, the answer seems inevitable that the recasting process will be underway to find a new version of the X-Men’s savage slasher.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Jackman continues to reflect back on his long tenure playing Logan/Wolverine as he readies a dash to the finish line with 2017’s third Wolverine solo film. Regarding how the role retirement was taken by both 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment, Jackman states:
They were all really supportive -- 17 years is a long time. And I'm sure that they've already started casting, you know? Someone may sign up for an 11-picture deal, as we speak.
One actor hoping to be that "someone" is Taron Egerton, star of the recent surprise hit Kingsman: The Secret Service. While far from being confirmed for the role, Egerton has been throwing his proverbial hat in the ring as a potential candidate for the inevitably vacated Wolverine role; something that we’re likely to see several young actors do in the coming months. Clearly, as he preps for its swan song, the proverbial buzzards have already began to circle over Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine tenure.
Of course, the idea of recasting the roles of the main X-Men characters is hardly without precedence. The 2011 prequel, X-Men: First Class introduced younger versions of key characters like James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto in a way that was built towards the apparent passing of the torch between casts that occurred in the time-bending X-Men: Days of Future Past last year. Next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse is codified as their showcase, along with some new players portraying old favorites. While Jackman’s Wolverine is speculated to make a cameo in that film, the clock is quickly ticking away for this last holdover from the previous generation of films.
For the 46 year-old Jackman, it’s rather clear that the decision to walk away continues to be bittersweet, but ultimately necessary. Having made his debut as Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s original groundbreaking X-Men movie in 2000, the then 31 year-old unknown Aussie actor would see his career trajectory altered to an upward course. Once seen as a hindrance to his other acting aspirations, the Wolverine role now serves to open a variety of doors for Jackman, like the upcoming Pan, or a P.T. Barnum biopic, The Greatest Showman on Earth. In this aspect, he feels reluctant to let Wolverine go along with all the opportunities the role afforded.
However, not only is it physically unfeasible to continue his famously grueling training regimen with a bland, spiritually draining diet, but, from a creative standpoint, there is only so many times you can go to the same well before you’ve worn out your welcome with the audience. When all is said and done with the upcoming third Wolverine film that Jackman claims will be his last, he will have made NINE appearances on the big screen as Wolverine. Moreover, that number could even end up being TEN, should he, as rumored, make a cameo in next year’s Deadpool, reuniting with Ryan Reynolds’ titular "Merc with a Mouth."
Overall, Jackman’s run with Wolverine may go down in the history books as the greatest single tenure ever with a comic book hero. Yet, there’s no doubt whatsoever that the character is too popular to be relegated to the shelf for very long. The main question only concerns the manner in which he will resurface. Will the existing film continuity inject a newly-cast Wolverine? Or will Fox wait for things to run their course in next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse and start over anew? Clearly, we’ll have a lot more answers by the time the untitled Wolverine 3 comes along on March 3, 2017.