Theater-goers are currently getting their comic-loving minds blown with the gritty and brutal spectacle that is James Marigold's Logan, which will likely be actor Hugh Jackman's final performance as the bone-breaking mutant Wolverine. It's going to take him some time to get used to a life away from the role, and if he wants an idea of what to expect, he should look no further the man behind the first great on-screen Wolverine, Cal Dodd, who voiced the hero in the classic X-Men: The Animated Series. According to Dodd, losing that role was a surprisingly difficult transition.
I hated the fact that it was gone. Then I heard they started a new production in L.A. [X-Men: Evolution] and I wondered, 'Why wouldn't I do that?' It was a younger version, younger X-Men. It was a huge gap in my life. I was doing it for five years and I became him. I created this guy, I created this voice. It was so a part of me that it was unbelievable. I just bought the whole five-year series and I'm started to watch it bit by bit. It's so good. It was like losing my right arm. I loved the guy. Because it was like me. He was like a brother.
Lots of people who manage to keep a job for five years end up speaking about it the way Wolverine would speak about Gambit on X-Men: The Animated Series, and 20 years later, that job is just a distant blip of a memory. For Cal Dodd, though, playing the claw-slashing mutant was an entire stage of his life phase. And one that, oddly enough, started without him having a clue of who Wolverine even was. But it apparently took little time for him to figure out both the gruff voice and the standoffish persona, and Dodd definitely couldn't have realized at the time that he would be a major factor in bringing comic book characters to the mainstream.
Though he'd had a couple of other TV gigs in the past, X-Men: The Animated Series was Cal Dodd's first breakout job, and it's one that lasted for five years and over 70 episodes. And considering how many times voice actors deliver lines and performances to get just the right reading, it's no wonder Dodd became so attached to playing Wolverine. I'd love to hear some stories from his friends and family about how he answered the phone back then. I bet he answered it like Wolverine, because why wouldn't that be the obvious instinct? (Hey Fox, get Dodd involved with that upcoming "not really the X-Men, but it's totally the X-Men" project that's in development.
Cal Dodd told THR that he actually met up with Hugh Jackman before the first movie was even going into production, and he discovered he'd actually played a part in inspiring Jackman.
They were in town at some function, and I was there because we were the animated cast and he just came up to me and he joked, 'I'm really tired of listening to your voice!' Because he had no other reference for a Wolverine but the animated series. So he had to listen to the voice to try to emulate that, or that sort of feel of him and the character. . . . I loved Hugh. 17 years he's been doing it. Good lord. He'll never forget the role. You can't. That's a huge a part of his life.
That's a lovely story. If reading all this made you want to immediately cancel plans and binge-watch X-Men: The Animated Series for the rest of the day, I'm not going to be the person to tell you not to, but I will tell you that the whole series is available to stream on Hulu. And then I'll tell you to head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what other shows, both comic book-related and beyond, are heading to your TVs soon.