×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

After ‘Prisoners,’ Should Hugh Jackman Retire from Wolverine?

The' X-Men' star should hang up his claws

Prisoners,” the new Warner Bros. thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, is a movie that Alfred Hitchcock would have made if he were channeling David Fincher. Director Denis Villeneueve casts Jackman as a dad overcome with grief when his daughter vanishes one Thanksgiving afternoon. “Prisoners” is full of surprises, which shouldn’t be spoiled, other to say that it earned raves when it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in August. As Variety’s chief film critic Scott Foundas wrote at the time: “Jackman has never been better.” (The full review is available here.)

You could argue that Jackman, at the age of 44, is in the midst of a career resurgence. On the first day of filming “Prisoners” last December, he clinched his first Oscar nomination ever—for playing Jean Valjean in the Universal Studios adaptation of “Les Miserables,” which grossed $442 million globally. There’s just one problem: the two performances were interrupted by Wolverine, Jackman’s alter-ego on the big screen with treacherous claws.

In July, Fox’s “The Wolverine,” the sequel to 2009’s “X-Men Origins Wolverine,” which itself was the spinoff from 2000’s “X-Men,” opened to a disappointing $55 million. This was the sixth time Jackman had played Wolverine, and the latest film only grossed $130 million domestically, down 28 percent from the 2009 pic that made $180 million at the U.S. box office. Despite audience fatigue, the studio later announced that Jackman will be reprising Wolverine in the time-travelling “X-Men Days of Future Past” directed by Bryan Singer and scheduled for 2014. All of which leads to a bigger question: Is Wolverine now a liability for Hugh Jackman’s career?

VIDEO: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal Talk “Prisoners”

Many actors (see Robert Downey Jr. or Natalie Portman) transition seamlessly from serious fare to summer blockbusters. But Wolverine has been both a blessing and curse for Jackman. The Marvel comic book character was the role that put the unknown Australian actor on the map in the first Singer “X-Men” pic, but it also typecast him.

Jackman has worked assiduously to break out of the mold. He dabbled in romantic comedy (2001’s “Someone Like You” and “Kate & Leopold”), more action (2004’s “Van Helsing”), a Woody Allen film (2006’s “Scoop”) and an epic romance that tried to be “Gone With The Wind” but failed (2008’s “Australia”). None of these movies really worked. Audiences didn’t pay much attention to his good turns in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” or Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” either, although younger boys rightfully embraced 2011’s “Real Steel” about fighting robots. Now that he’s regained new career momentum, returning to Wolverine is only going to make us forget his range.

To give a sense of how much time Jackman has spent under all that hair, when the upcoming “X-Men” movie opens next year, it will be his seventh appearance as Wolverine (including a cameo in 2011’s “X-Men: First Class”) over 15 years. That’s longer than the decade Daniel Radcliffe spent playing Harry Potter. Christian Bale committed to three “Batman” movies for Warner Bros., and Tobey Maguire only donned “Spider-Man’s” tights three times for Sony. Both these actors were entities in Hollywood before they started playing comic book heroes. Unlike Batman or Superman, Wolverine just isn’t that deep. Jackman has already explored all the various depths — and more — with the character.

Ironically, the one role that allowed Jackman to escape the most from the X-Men world was his 2004 Broadway turn as the gay crooner Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz.” It’s the only performance that earned him a fervent fan base that rivaled his Comic-Con groupies. The self-described “Ozalots,” mostly women between the ages of 30 and 60, practically took out second mortgages on their homes to binge-purchase orchestra seats, returning to the theater dozens of times to be near Hugh. That’s the kind of excitement Jackman can generate with the right character, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to do that often enough at the movies.

It also doesn’t help that every time Jackman promotes a different film, interviewers ask the same questions about Wolverine. That happened this week on “The View,” when the gabbers showcased his ripped torso and Sherri Shepherd fondled his pecs. Half the headlines generated by the “Prisoners” press tour are somehow related to Wolverine, which must be annoying for Warner Bros. Even Jackman has said he’s not sure how much longer he can keep up the act. It’s time to retire those claws.

More Film

  • Josh Brolin, Kathryn Boyd. Josh Brolin,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Josh Brolin: Thanos' Butt Is a 'Beautiful, Purple Peach'

    On the eve of “Avengers: Endgame’s” world premiere, everyone’s thoughts have turned to the one crucial detail that could be the difference between life or death for the Avengers: Does Thanos have a butt? “I don’t know what that whole thing is about! I really don’t!” Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos, told Variety‘s Marc Malkin [...]

  • Tessa Thompson'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Tessa Thompson Says Valkyrie Would Spoon Captain Marvel, Thor

    Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and upcoming “Avengers: Endgame,” had no problem addressing speculation about the character’s sexuality at the “Endgame” red carpet premiere Monday. The “Sorry to Bother You” actress explained that she played her Marvel character as bisexual. “In the canon, [Valkyrie] is bisexual. You see her with [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Writers Guild Says Over 7,000 Members Have Fired Agents

    Over 7,000 members of the Writers Guild of America have fired their talent agents, the Hollywood union said on Monday. As promised, the guild delivered a first round of termination letters to agents in a show of support for the WGA’s full-on war with the Association of Talent Agents. “Today the Guild delivered a first [...]

  • BRAZILIAN FLAGFRENCH OPEN TENNIS, PARIS, FRANCE

    Brazil’s Ancine Freezes Incentives, Threatening Film-TV Industry Paralysis

    Brazil’s Ancine agency, its foremost public-sector source of film funding, has frozen all of its incentive programs, potentially near paralyzing new production in Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The dramatic decision, which has left Brazil’s industry is a state of shock and intense fear for its future, comes as it has taken further hits. In [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez Reteams With STXfilms on Romantic-Comedy Co-Starring Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez is reteaming with STXfilms on the upcoming romantic-comedy “Marry Me.” Kat Coiro is directing the film and Owen Wilson is in final negotiations to join the pic, which will likely shoot this fall. The script was written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Lopez and Wilson both [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, died Sunday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, [...]

  • David Leitch Kelly McCormick

    'Hobbs & Shaw' Director David Leitch, Kelly McCormick Sign First-Look Deal With Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is signing David Leitch, his longtime producing partner, Kelly McCormick and their recently founded 87North Production banner to a first-look production deal. “David and Kelly have established themselves as a distinctive, stylish filmmaking team who can do it all, from contained thrillers to franchise tentpoles,” said Universal’s president Peter Cramer. “We are confident [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content