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With Hugh Jackman riding off into the sunset with last year's Logan, the future of the Wolverine character on the big screen is up in the air at the moment. Hugh Jackman defined the character on the big screen so he will be hard to replace, but Wolverine is the most popular X-Man and arguably one of Marvel's most popular characters overall, so it is likely he will be recast sooner rather than later. One actor who thinks he's up for the part already has some experience in the comic book world, The Walking Dead actor Tom Payne, who had this to say about taking on the character:
Tom Payne, who plays Paul 'Jesus' Rovia on The Walking Dead makes a pretty good point here. It's funny to think about it now, since Hugh Jackman defined the role for 17 years, but he actually was an odd choice for Wolverine compared to someone like Bob Hoskins, who X-Men writer Chris Claremont once championed. As Tom Payne noted to TV Guide, Wolverine is a super short, compact ball of muscle in the comics whereas Hugh Jackman is fairly tall at 6'2." Tom Payne himself is 5'7" and much closer to the comic book depiction of the character -- at least in that regard.
It is strange to think of Tom Payne as Wolverine, especially given his character on The Walking Dead is something of a pacifist, but he is an interesting candidate. The actor has proved he is capable of physical fight scenes on the AMC show and he has more than enough facial hair for the famously bristly character. Despite the long hair and beard, he still looks rather young and a bit of a babyface to me; still, it would all depend on how he was styled and made up for the character and what sort of Wolverine depiction the theoretical film was going for. Unlike Batman or Spider-Man, who have changed actors multiple times, the big screen has only ever known one Wolverine and that's Hugh Jackman. So perhaps going in the opposite direction than that great actor is the way to go. Instead of trying to cast the next Hugh Jackman, look for a new Wolverine and maybe Tom Payne is it.
Of course, Tom Payne isn't the only one who has thrown his name into the Wolverine sweepstakes. Scott Eastwood, who is just below the 6-foot mark, has spoken multiple times about his love of the character and his desire to play him on screen. At 5'9," Tom Hardy's name has also been thrown about as someone who could take on the role, although the somewhat short and highly physical actor is already taking on another fan-favorite antihero in Venom later this year.
Whoever gets cast as the next Wolverine will have huge shoes to fill, and hopefully that person will be up to the task. As far as when we will see Wolverine return to the big screen, that is an equally compelling question. At some point, if the Disney/Fox deal goes through, the X-Men and Wolverine will likely be re-integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at which time the roles may even be recast. But until that happens Fox seems to be moving full speed ahead with its X-Verse. So the future is wide open for Weapon X on-screen and whichever studio introduces him next hopefully will consider all the options and deliver another iconic interpretation. Check out our guide to see all the Upcoming X-Men Movies, and for all the latest in berserker attacks and adamantium claws, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.