Actor Hugh Jackman has portrayed James “Logan” Howlett, a.k.a. Wolverine, since Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie. When Jackman made his cinematic debut as the popular X-Man back in 2000, some were skeptical because the actor is taller than the comic book anti-hero (by almost a foot!), but Jackman gave a memorable performance and has since won over countless fans. His version of Logan has suffered an incredible amount of heartache and loss in the X-Men cinematic universe, and now, Jackman claims his time as the adamantium-clawed X-Man is soon coming to an end.
Wolverine’s third spin-off movie, Wolverine, is scheduled to open in theaters in 2017. Jackman states it’ll be his final performance as Wolverine, and he’s been more than vocal about wanting it to be the best one yet. At the time of writing this, the script is currently being written by Michael Green and very little has been officially revealed about the comic book movie. It’s confirmed Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier is in it, but aside from that, a lot remains a mystery. However, at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, Jackman said three words to tease fans about his final role as Wolverine: Old Man Logan.
“Old Man Logan” is a dark and violent story arc which takes place in the future. Written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Steve McNiven, “Old Man Logan” is about a world where the villains decided to organize and then slaughtered a majority of the heroes. When it came to taking down the X-Men, they had Wolverine do their dirty work for them. Thanks to some illusions by the Spider-Man villain Mysterio, Wolverine unleashed against his allies, savagely taking each of them down with his claws. This horrible event made Wolverine want to take his own life, but his accelerated healing factor prevented this from happening. Unable to move on from the bloody and terrifying event, Wolverine swore to never pop his claws or fight again.
As the villains took control of the United States and divided it among themselves, Wolverine attempted to live a domesticated life with a woman he loves and they had two children. While Logan wants to live a peaceful and “normal” life, the local landlords – the twisted, inbred offspring of Hulk and She-Hulk – demanded more money, and that forced Logan to go on a delivery job with a now-blind Hawkeye. The job made them to travel across the dangerous country, encountering several villains and threats along the way.
Obviously, Jackman saying “Old Man Logan” at SDCC 2014 doesn’t mean Wolverine will be heavily inspired by Millar and McNiven’s comic. Could it draw some elements from the comic? Absolutely. In fact, that’s likely. Will it take place in a future where Wolverine slaughtered the X-Men and villains have taken over the country, though? Only time will tell, of course. After all, The Wolverine was based on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s 1982 Wolverine limited series, yet it made significant changes throughout the entire narrative. The same could – and probably will – hold true for 2017’s Wolverine.
For all we know, Wolverine could be tricked into killing some people close to him and then him dealing with the aftermath of that; the whole scenario of villains taking over the country or it being in the future could be left out. However, if 20th Century Fox and Jackman are interested in making a movie which is noticeably inspired by Millar and McNiven’s comic, it has the potential to be a phenomenal way to conclude Jackman’s time as Wolverine.
A Fitting Goodbye to Jackman
Even if Jackman does really walk away from the role, the odds of Fox still wanting to use Wolverine in its future films are likely. Comic fans can debate for days about who the top X-Men character is, but to the general audience, Wolverine is without question the most popular one – and that’s obviously important to the studio. Jackman has already commented on who could play Wolverine once he’s gone, saying Mad Max: Fury Road’s Tom Hardy would be “great“. No matter what the studio decides to do with the character post-Jackman, a movie based on “Old Man Logan” is an appropriate send-off to Jackman and his version of the hero.
As Jackman moves on to other projects, this would give the studio the opportunity to find an organic way to bring another actor into the role, introducing the individual at a point which came before Jackman’s final film. “Old Man Logan” is meant to pull the reader (or in this case, viewer) into Wolverine’s final emotional challenge, and then have him walk away as the hero you already knew; a man who’s finally ready to save the country from the foes who have taken power. It’s full of rage, sorrow, and even humor. If Jackman departs, a journey inspired by “Old Man Logan” can offer plenty of character insight and give Jackman the opportunity to make his last performance as James Howlett an unforgettable one – one where he overcomes his greatest challenge yet, and then walks away with the promise of still being the best there is at what he does. It could have Wolverine quite literally heading off into the horizon, leaving viewers knowing this is the last they’ll see of Jackman, but also fully aware it leaves the door open to plenty of stories about the slightly younger version of the X-Man.
Full of Fan Service
Jackman’s time as Wolverine has been enjoyed by many fans, but some are still left wanting more from Wolverine’s presence in the X-Men cinematic universe. One thing moviegoers would like to see is more of Wolverine’s villains – villains that remain more true to their comics book counter-parts. Well, a movie based on “Old Man Logan” has the promise to provide that in spades without bogging down the story or making it feel too crowded. With the villains, an “Old Man Logan” movie has the potential to, at the very least, provide Easter Eggs for several of Wolverine’s foes. As the country is divided, a map could reveal that enemies like Cyber, Ogun, Gorgon, Omega Red, and even Mister Sinister have claimed territories.
There are ways of keeping the big Red Skull fight in the screenplay. How about Logan faces Kenuichio Harada’s son? Or how about any of the villains listed in the above paragraph? In the comics, Kenuichio is Silver Samurai, but in The Wolverine, he was an archer and someone else stepped into the robotic “Silver Samurai” armor. Who’s to say he didn’t have a son off-screen, one who grows up thriving in this villainous world, taking trophies from everyone he takes down? His collection could include Shatterstar’s swords (which Logan could use in a fight instead Captain America’s shield, since they don’t have the rights to that), Deadpool’s mask, Warpath’s knives, Domino’s pistols, and more weaponry, iconic gear, and apparel from other X-Men related characters who weren’t killed by Wolverine in the X-Mansion.
Not having the rights to several characters in the comic does complicate matters, but with the right creative team behind it, there’s plenty of available substitutes that can be put to proper use and still deliver the same – or at least similar – story beats. Mysterio can be replaced by Mastermind. Instead of a dinosaur with the Venom symbiote on it, the studio could use Predator X or even the Brood for a chase sequence. With the Hulk and his family, why not use Juggernaut or the Blob to serve as the brute force who don’t care about others? The X-Men universe is a big place, and Fox has the rights to a bunch of characters who can fill the roles that are brought onto the big screen.
The possibility of an eventual X-Men and Fantastic Four crossover still exists, and this film could even be the studio’s way of boosting interest in that. If a map of the United States is shown, it could reveal that Doctor Doom has control of part of the country, just like he did in the comic. When Wolverine uses Iron Man’s armor to travel in the comic, the movie could have him hop into a rundown version of the Fantasticar. Part of the Thing’s durable body could be in a villain’s trophy case – if there’s someone inspired by Red Skull, that is. This movie doesn’t just have the chance to dish out everything fans want from Wolverine – it has the chance to tease just how many characters have the potential to appear in Fox’s slate of comic book movies.
A Character-Driven Story
No matter who the villains are, one of the biggest strengths of “Old Man Logan” is the fact it’s a character study. The journey here is fairly simple: An already devastated man attempts to save his family and desperately wants to hold onto the safe life he’s built. He’s not rushing to prevent the destruction of the world or anything like that. The stakes here are personal, not grand in scale. It’s all about seeing a broken version of a hero we all know so well, exploring a twisted version of a familiar world. The X-Men movie universe has already shined a spotlight on Wolverine’s psyche and showed just how much agony he carries with him, and “Old Man Logan” has the potential to hit him with the most heart-breaking and horrifying conflict yet.
With the right approach, this is the kind of movie that could do a superb job humanizing Wolverine while also making moviegoers incredibly anxious to see him unleash those lethal claws. Now, putting it like that does make the film seem overly bleak (and the above image certainly further sells that tone), but a charismatic supporting character and an intriguing world prevents the tale from feeling overly somber. Jackman has proven he can provide a compelling performance – and “Old Man Logan” has the ability to present the most gripping one yet.
No Hawkeye? No Problem
One of the Old Man Logan’s highlights is a blind version of Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye. Obviously, Marvel Studios and Disney have the rights to the character (he’s played by Jeremy Renner) and the archer isn’t one of those rare cases where both studios can use the character (e.g. Quicksilver). That’s okay because there’s so many other options. Quite literally any X-Men related character who wasn’t part of the slaughter could fill that gap – it’s all about the dynamic between these two and the mandatory exposition. This person needs to have adapted to this terrible place and know it well. They also need to be unaware of why Logan has become a pacifist. If this was an X-Man who stumbled upon the bodies of his or her fallen allies, they could immediately assume it was part of the villain uprising, and they may be too traumatized to inspect the bodies and see the three claw marks. Or, perhaps, deep down, they know it’s Wolverine and want him to eventually confess what he did.
The writer of the comic, Mark Millar, gave the best substitute for Hawkeye’s role: a Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, with no ruby quartz visor to protect the world from the optic blasts his eyes generate, so he walks around with his eyes closed. Just like Hawkeye, he too could wield a sword and his personality could have changed a bit after years and years of surviving in this world. Seeing as many felt Cyclops, a prominent X-Men character, was underused in the previous films, this could be a fitting way to finally give moviegoers a cinematic version of Cyclops who’s badass and has a charismatic personality. Plus, the dynamic between those two is full of potential – there’s so much history there.
It was recently stated that Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, will have a role in Wolverine 3. Given the character’s age, this means a story with Wolverine taking place 50 years in the future couldn’t include Charles. So, if the studio does want to stick closely to the source material, this story could take place 10, or even 20, years in the future, and thanks to some practical and visual effects, Xavier can be appropriately aged. Or, he could be present in flashbacks as part of the slaughter itself, or someone who desperately tries to help Logan in the aftermath of it. The X-Men’s leader isn’t in the comic (though Emma Frost is…), but if the movie does go with “Old Man Logan”, it’s very unlikely to be a direct adaptation anyway, so just like with the villains, the inclusion of new characters is both understandable and expected.
The addition of an X-Men character who is close to Wolverine makes sense. No matter how big of a role Stewart plays or how he’s incorporated – could he be encountered during the journey? – the Professor could be there and simply want to help this clearly shattered version of a man he once knew. Xavier’s compassion knows no bounds, and even after Wolverine slaughtered all of the people he loved, he may still find the strength to want to help Logan. He could strive to make Wolverine feel less responsible for what happened to the X-Men – and that dynamic could generate a powerful and emotional scene in between all of the action and chaos.
“Old Man Logan” is loaded with character insight as it focuses on Wolverine while he’s at such a low point, but it’s also packed with popcorn entertainment. Wolverine popping his claws isn’t required for an exciting action sequence, and that’s something Millar and McNiven proved multiple times in the comic. From attempting to escape an overwhelming threat, to his teammate doing all of the fighting, there’s a great selection of thrilling action sequences to draw inspiration from. Then, when Wolverine finally does break and he pops his claws, it absolutely has the potential to be a moment that’s well worth the wait – if handled properly, of course.
Odds are the movie won’t be able to be as graphic as the comic is (unless perhaps the R-rated Deadpool is a huge success?), but with some clever camera work and editing, they can still get away with a satisfying amount of Wolverine’s excessively violent finale. Jackman is perfectly aware of the fact that fans want to see more berserker rage, after all.
Will Wolverine pull a lot of material from “Old Man Logan”, or will it just be a loose adaptation? The latter would be the easiest route for the studio to take – especially for the sake of continuity. But if this really is Jackman’s final performance as Logan, he deserves to go out with a bang, and Millar and McNiven’s “Old Man Logan” – which is often regarded as one of the best Wolverine stories around – can make his departure an amazing experience. A live-action version of that emotional, action-packed, and legitimately attention-grabbing world has the chance to be a phenomenal way for Jackman to end his time as Wolverine (while also teasing just how much potential exists within Fox’s X-Men cinematic universe).
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Would you like to see Jackman conclude his time as Wolverine in a movie that stays very true to “Old Man Logan”, or would you prefer a new story that draws only some inspiration from it?
Deadpool opens February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.