Despite his status as a core member of the X-Men, Wolverine has always been an outsider, and civilization hangs on his feral form like an ill-fitting coat. With the 2000 film X-Men, Australian actor Hugh Jackman brought the character front and center, so we can better see him snarl. But that was then. And here in 2017, after nine films, Jackson is exiting stage right.
As Jackman told Reuters, “I know Aussies are not known for leaving the party at the right time, but (after) 17 years, it’s time to leave the party.”
He’s left on a high note, with the 2017 film Logan. The future-set tale wasn’t just a box-office winner, earning $616.8 million on a $97 million budget. It was critically acclaimed for its stellar performances—and not just Jackman’s. Co-stars Sir Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen shone even through the film’s grittiness, the consequence of its R rating.
Jackman defended the film’s adult themes. “This is a man whose life is centered on violence,” Jackman said. “It seemed very difficult thematically, not just in terms of graphic violence but the consequences of violence, it seemed impossible to make that as a PG-13 movie and really get into the thematic of that and on a serious level.”
This leaves the rest of the superhero world to consider the consequences of an R rating. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe have shied away from slicing into the teenage market. But standalone films like Logan, Deadpool, and Blade (and outside of Marvel, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Sin City), have earned producers millions.
With any luck, continued box-office success of R-rated superhero films will lead to more of them. Here’s hoping for careful treatments of graphic novels with adult themes, such as Maus, Transmetropolitan, and Saga, to name a few.
And now all we have to do is find the perfect role for an older, wiser, and decidedly un-Wolverine’d Jackman.