When it is all said and done, Hugh Jackman will have taken one of the truly iconic turns through the superhero and comic book movie genre as Wolverine in the X-Men universe. His portrayal as Logan from the very start all the way through the tragically beautiful and bloody end was one of the most memorable of any in the genre. And to think it almost didn’t happen. When he first took the role, some saw it as a major mistake, a part that Hugh Jackman was advised to distance himself from early and often. In an interview with Collider, Jackman detailed how there were those in the industry that thought his original flick X-Men was going to be a major flop.
While doing press for his most recent film Reminiscence, Hugh Jackman was asked about the feelings around X-Men all the way back in 2000. While we can look back fondly at that film, how it was a launchpad for a huge franchise and helped revolutionize the world of comic book movies, there wasn’t a ton of confidence about it. Comic book movies just weren’t viewed the same way then as they are now, with some in the industry seeing them as overwhelmingly silly at best and career killers at worst. Hugh Jackman waxed on the feelings at the time and what people were telling him about the role. Here’s what Hugh Jackman had to say:
“…there were battles all the way through for sure. I remember people who I knew in Hollywood…but two or three other people who were in the know…were like, “Make sure you got another job. The word on the street is they’re seeing it as a dud. And it’s okay. At the moment, you’re a lead in a movie in Hollywood, right? Don’t tell them it’s a comic book…That means nothing. Just say you’re a lead in the movie, and you’re at least going to get auditions, and then try and book something before it comes out, and they’ll give you one more shot. “
Man, how times have ever changed. This was “advice” Hugh Jackman was getting in the lead-up to X-Men hitting the big screen. And this is something that Jackman has talked about in the past as well. He wasn’t even the first choice for the role when they were originally casting the film. That was supposed to be Dougray Scott who had to drop out because of a scheduling conflict. Whoops. Hugh Jackman was the backup plan, and some in his life told him to not take the role for fear of some cheesy fallout around the part. Little did they know that he would take the Wolverine part and run with it.
Not only were some friends of Hugh Jackman wrong about the fate of X-Men, but they missed the mark pretty bad. That movie ended up earning $296 million at the box office on its $75 million budget. And then the follow-up X2 did even better with a $408 million haul and is generally considered one of the best offerings in the comic book space.
Hugh Jackman would end up becoming one of the faces of the comic book genre, playing Wolverine in eight movies total. His final role (for now) came in 2017’s Logan which capped off his story in a beautifully violent fashion perfect for the character. Whether we ever see him return to the role remains to be seen. With the X-Men set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in coming years, there has been some talk that Hugh Jackman could reprise the role in some fashion. The use of the Multiverse has meant that any previous death need not be permanent in these worlds. Time will tell if we see Hugh Jackman take back up the adamantium claws and get to work. We would be here for it of course. And let’s be thankful that Jackman didn’t listen to that early advice and got into one of the best roles we have seen in these movies.