Hugh Jackman has now had a rather storied career in Hollywood, getting to play a number of roles that show the actor’s considerable range. From high-powered action films to bright lights musicals, he’s been able to do almost everything. But of course, Jackman will likely always be synonymous with the character that really put him on the map. When he first hit the screen as Wolverine, it was clearly a perfect casting and now years later it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the iconic role. And now we have a chance to see Hugh Jackman again in one of the more underappreciated films of his X-Men run. That’s because 2013’s The Wolverine just hit the streaming rounds.
On January 1st, ringing in the New Year, Disney+ added The Wolverine to its collection of streaming offerings. It continues the platform’s hold over almost the entirety of the Marvel Collection, even those outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hugh Jackman can be seen in other X-Men offerings there, but The Wolverine represents the first from the solo franchise.
The Wolverine isn’t the first movie you think of when it comes to Hugh Jackman playing the role. That might be when he first hit the scene in 2000’s X-Men or when we got his backstory in 2003’s X2. Maybe even it’s redemption tale in Logan. But The Wolverine, as a film, returns Logan to some martial arts roots and, as a stand alone, was an excellent film showing off the range of the character.
The film sets Hugh Jackman’s Logan in Japan, a return to the Wolverine #1 comic from all the way back in 1982. It details his relationship with Mariko Yashida, one of the first stories we ever knew about the character. Other than flashbacks, it doesn’t include anyone in the X-Men universe (rare for a movie at this time) and puts Wolverine in a fight for his mortality as well as a new-ish love arc that harkens back to that comic book origin story.
Hugh Jackman’s performance in The Wolverine is as important as any other time he’s donned the claws and whipped up hair. For starters, it gave him a full, front-and-center chance to show off just how much he’d embodied the character. The early X-Men movies were ensemble casts in which Hugh Jackman stole scenes, but didn’t get full billing. And then 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a corny mess that tried to do a few too many things at once. This one, set against the Japanese backdrop, really makes him stand out.
In The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman puts his stamp on the character, bringing both the tortured soul who is somewhat doomed to an immortal life while also reminding us of his deep heart and caring nature hidden under the adamantium skeleton. This movie really sets the stage for what we see in his final in Logan and establishes the sad and layered nature of the character. Jackman is fantastic in the role and shows off a range we hadn’t seen in previous films.
Hugh Jackman helped carry the movie to very solid scores with critics, sitting at 71% on the Tomatometer and nearly doubling up its predecessor. It also pulled down about $400 million at the box office on its $100 million budget. That latter was considered something of an underperformance, likely stemming from its insular nature in the X-Men universe. But it shouldn’t be an indictment because unlike other films in the franchise, this one can be watched even if you have no idea about the broader world.
Whether Hugh Jackman ever returns to the character of Wolverine isn’t totally clear. There are some rumors of the sort. But even if he doesn’t, we can always revisit a largely forgotten film in his run. That should be the case and it’s worth it to take the time to watch it now.