When Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine for 2000’s X-Men, it didn’t seem like an auspicious start: He was a last-minute replacement for Dougray Scott, and his main experience had been in musical theater and on Australian TV. Yet Jackman became the movie’s breakout star, and over the past 17 years he has made Wolverine his in a way no other actor of the modern superhero era has done with a role.
His commitment to the character is personal as well as professional: He took a pay cut so that Logan could have the R rating filmmakers felt it needed to embrace the story’s violence and adult themes. He gamely showed up for tiny cameos in X-Men movies First Class and Apocalypse, in which Wolverine was not a main character. And he indulged Ryan Reynolds’ incessant prodding about appearing in a Deadpool movie. Even now, as he’s assuring anyone who’ll listen that he’s hanging up the claws, he’s said he’d be willing to play Wolverine again if the character could join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
He has earned his swan song, and part of why Logan works is the history Jackman brings to the character. He has played the confident ladies’ man, the tortured amnesiac, the self-deprecating hero and the inspirational mentor. He is Wolverine, and he will be missed.