After nine movies over 17 years, Hugh Jackman is hanging up his claws with the best X-Men movie ever made.

It didn’t make any sense to cast Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Since his 1974 debut in an issue of Incredible Hulk, Wolverine was essentially the human equivalent of his namesake animal: hairy, clawed, muscular, Canadian. Perhaps most strikingly, he was short: 5’3", according to the biography on Marvel’s official website.

So how did a 6’2" Aussie hunk like Hugh Jackman end up donning Wolverine’s claws? Like most unexpected but brilliant pieces of casting, it almost didn’t happen. In a 1995 feature suggesting the ideal actors who could star as the X-Men on the big screen, Wizard magazine proposed Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig, whose squat, 5’3" frame was a near-perfect match for the Wolverine fans had come to love over decades of X-Men comics. (Producers apparently were intrigued by this clever bit of fan-casting; in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, X-Men screenwriter David Hayter revealed that Danzig actually came in to read for the role.)
Even after the producers decided to target a more conventional Hollywood leading man to play Wolverine, Jackman was far from the first choice. Concept art for Wolverine was designed with Mel Gibson in mind. Director Bryan Singer wanted Russell Crowe for the role. Eventually, Dougray Scott—a similarly tall, similarly handsome actor who didn’t fit Wolverine’s comic-book mold—was officially cast but forced to drop out due to conflicts with his schedule playing the villain in Mission: Impossible 2. Only then was Jackman—a virtual unknown with recurring roles in a couple of Australian TV shows under his belt—offered the role. X-Men had already been in production for a month when Jackman began rehearsing for the complicated action choreography playing Wolverine would require.

From these troubled beginnings sprang the single longest tenure—and, I’d argue, single greatest tenure—for any actor playing a superhero on the big screen. You could make a case for Christopher Reeve’s Superman, which hasn’t been equalled—let alone exceeded—in three decades, or for Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, whose performance served as the launchpad for the whole MCU. But the former ended his run on a pair of disappointingly weak movies, and the latter has more movies to make before the actual scope of his performance can be judged. For now, Jackman’s sustained performance is the fullest and most satisfying arc of any superhero franchise in Hollywood history.

Back in 2000, X-Men fans who were skeptical about Jackman’s lack of physical resemblance to the comic-book Wolverine were quickly swayed by how perfectly he captured the essence of the comic-book Wolverine: a gruff killing machine with a mysterious past, a hair-trigger temper, and a cocktail of superpowers that rendered him virtually unstoppable. This guy was clearly the best at what he did—and what he did best wasn’t very nice. But Jackman was just as credible in Wolverine’s rarer moments of tenderness: his tragic relationship with Jean Grey, his loyalty to an old friend in The Wolverine, and his shepherding of Laura, the 11-year-old mutant to whom he serves as reluctant caretaker in Logan.
After the success of X-Men, Jackman reprised the role in two sequels, three prequels, and three spinoffs, culminating in this week’s Logan. He has proven versatile enough to headline his own movies, stand out among the stacked cast in the main franchise, and deliver the biggest laugh line in an entire movie in a brief cameo. This kind of staying power is unusual. In the 17 years that Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine on the big screen, we’ve seen two Batmans and three Spider-Mans—not to mention a whole new X-Men cast, with Jackman’s slow-aging Wolverine serving as the key piece of connective tissue. Logan ultimately succeeds because it has the weight of that history behind it. The most potent scenes center on Logan’s relationship with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who also dates back to the very first X-Men movie. Jackman’s abnormally long tenure in the role makes jumping from 2000’s X-Men to 2017’s Logan feel like the superheroic equivalent of jumping from Before Sunrise to Before Sunset—the rare blockbuster franchise that shows us a protagonist growing and changing over the course of many years.But it’s not just longevity that makes Jackman’s performance so remarkable—it’s also consistency. Jackman has painstakingly maintained the eye-popping physique the character requires. He has made bad X-Men movies more watchable, good X-Men movies even better, and Logan—a great X-Men movie—something genuinely special. And his work ethic and utter lack of ego has ensured that Wolverine has held the X-Men franchise together even in its weakest moments. Jackman turned in a 20-second cameo in X-Men: First Class. He did voice work for several X-Men video games. That’s the kind of work that normally gets farmed out to a soundalike—unless the star is committed enough to the role to do it personally, as Jackman clearly was.All of this was a choice Jackman made, and continued making, as the X-Men franchise continued to grow and expand. And while Jackman’s unfailing commitment to Wolverine has certainly earned him a loyal following, it has also defined his career. It’s a tribute to Jackman’s range as an actor that playing Wolverine hasn’t left him hopelessly typecast. Between X-Men movies, Jackman hosted the Oscars, hosted the Tonys, won a Tony, and turned in terrific performances in movies like The Prestige, Prisoners, and Les Misérables. (The latter netted him his only Oscar nomination to date.) But professionally, X-Men has always been Jackman’s primary ongoing concern—and for a working actor, making nine X-Men movies means not making at least nine non–X-Men movies.

Which is why it’s such a relief that Logan serves as both a final and a fitting grace note for an actor, a character, and a performance that genuinely deserves one. Part of the reason Logan feels so much like the 1992 Best Picture winner, Unforgiven, is that it serves the same basic function for Jackman as Unforgiven served for Clint Eastwood. It’s the exclamation point at the end of a long string of performances—simultaneously the culmination of everything that came before it and a commentary on everything that came before it.

Today, most superheroes are too lucrative to be retired for long. Christopher Nolan got to give his Batman a definitive ending, but it was just a few years later that Warner Bros. pulled the character out of retirement for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wolverine will undoubtedly arrive on the big screen again someday—but right now, it's impossible to imagine another actor who could erase Jackman's Wolverine from your memory. On the strength of Jackman’s performance, Wolverine became the breakout X-Men character. But in his final appearance, Jackman does the X-Men one last favor: leaving the franchise in the best shape it’s ever been in, even without him.

Радио плеер