To get one thing immediately out of the way, Hugh Jackman being cast as Wolverine is arguably the best casting choice ever made in the history of superhero films. The Australian actor truly embodies the X-Man character in every way except two - height and attractiveness. The actual character is only 5'3 and not a sight for sore eyes, but Jackman is 6'3 of pure manly goodness. It's easy to let those two differences slide. Audiences would much rather see a hunk kick butt for eighteen years worth of movies than someone who genuinely looks like the wild animal of the character's namesake.
But imagine, if only for a brief moment, what it would be like to see a different actor in the role. Considering Disney's recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox, it's likely that people will see a new Wolverine in the near future.
Who could play everyone's favorite furious hero? This list will take a look at actors who would do justice to the role, and those who would make audiences mercilessly beg for Hugh to return. Additionally, entries will include possible castings for the modern day and actors that may have played him back in 2000, had events transpired differently.
Here's 8 Actors Who Would Make a Better Wolverine Than Hugh Jackman (And 8 Who Wouldn't).
16 Better - Liev Schreiber
Liev Schreiber already has the looks to be a believable sibling of Wolverine, so it is not going too far to say he has the right physique for the part. What makes Schreiber a truly notable candidate, however, is the unique flare he brings to every project he works on - possibly a result of his atypical upbringing. The American actor was raised on New York City's Lower East Side in dilapidated apartment buildings by a counter-culture embracing single mother. Growing up in a bohemian lifestyle gives Liev a different perspective to his performances and characters that a typical Hollywood actor would be unable to replicate.
Another great example of what makes Schreiber such a great choice can be found in his directorial debut, Everything is Illuminated. The film is a true story of a writer who travels to Ukraine to find the woman who helped his Grandfather escape Europe in World War II. It's a somber film that deals with dark themes like The Holocaust, anti-semitism, and the loss of culture from war. Yet, through all this there are great comedic moments. Though none of them are light of heart, which can also be said about Wolverine's humor.
The only thing holding him back from playing Wolverine today would be his age, but eighteen years ago Schriber certainly could have wowed audiences in the same way Hugh did.
15 Worse - Glenn Danzig
There are surely many Punk and Metal fans who are very familiar with Danzig's work. In the late seventies his band, The Misfits, pioneered the horror punk sound and aesthetic that countless groups are still deriving influence from. After leaving The Misfits, he carved out his own unique sound in the Heavy Metal Genre. "Mother" being one of his more famous songs. Despite his success in uniting metal heads and punks, he would not have the same results when it came to bringing cinephiles and comic book readers together.
Many years prior to the first X-Men film, Glenn Danzig was actually offered the part when Carolco Pictures was planning their own film. However, nothing ever progressed passed the planning stages of this production, much to the benefit of Danzig's career and the integrity of the X-Men franchise. Danzig may be a great musician, but is he a great actor?
For one, Carolco's film would have had a shoe-string budget, which does not always spell doom for a movie but most certainly would have compromised the visual effects. Secondly, Danzig may have a golden voice but he is inexperienced as an actor save for a few cameo appearances on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Portlandia. The only way he was really appropriate for the role was in his short height and muscular physique.
14 Better - Russell Crowe
There may or may not be trend of Australians looking the part of Wolverine, it must be the rough living in the Outback. If it's anything like eating a meal at Outback Steakhouse, they're definitely tough enough to take on the role. However, being Wolverine is much more than looking mean. It takes a hidden, yet detectable, humanity and sensitivity to play the clawed hero. Russell Crowe has proven time and again that he has the sufficient chops to pull this off.
Crowe was offered the role by Bryan Singer in the late 90s, but turned him down. Instead, he suggested Hugh Jackman for the role.
Crowe is no stranger to playing the warrior, with roles like Maximus and Jor-El coming to mind. These two characters are infinitely more complex than the average action hero, each having unique goals that are rarely seen in big budget blockbusters. At the end of the day, all of these characters are beating and maiming people. But, why they are doing is more important than most people would believe. Anyone can give themselves a sculptured physique, but making an audience really care about the character and their objectives is the real challenge.
13 Worse - Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves has certainly proved himself as a leading man who is never afraid to take on unique projects, usually to the approval of critics and viewers alike. He was able to carry an entire action trilogy on his shoulders with The Matrix. As Neo, Reeves was the audiences guide to the strange world the Wachowskis presented throughout the three films. These days he is bringing grit back to Hollywood action with the action-packed John Wick. With all of this praise the previous sentences lapped upon him, what possible opposing argument could be made?
It's simple, Keanu just does not fit in the role. If producing a film is like putting together a massive puzzle, Reeves would be a mismatched piece. No matter how pristine of a piece he may be. The history of cinema is filled with examples of great actors being put into parts they were not appropriate for. Being miscast is not the actor's fault, a job is a still a job after all. So, despite his wishes to play the character, we don't see it working out.
None of this is meant to cast any judgment on Reeves character either, as everyone knows he's a highly courteous, generous, and good hearted human being. It would be nice to see him in some superhero movie some day, whether it be in the MCU or not.
12 Better - Viggo Mortensen
His output may have slowed down in recent years, but the nineties were a great time to be Viggo Mortensen. He started the millennium off right with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and followed that up with Hidalgo. However, he did not forget the independents either and took on acclaimed parts in David Chronenberg's A History of Violence and The Road, the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleak post apocalyptic novel. While Viggo may be too high in years to play the part now, there is no reason why he could not have made a fine Wolverine back when Bryan Singer was putting together the first X-Men film.
His performance as Aragorn demonstrates his ease at playing the hero, with his portrayal being considered a highlight of a highly venerated series.
His role as the diner owner with a dark past in A History of Violence shows that, much like Wolverine, he can throw down while still playing a complicated character. In The Road, he escorts a young child through a dangerous future similar to what the clawed hero does in Logan. The only difference between the two films being, his character in that movie is the child's father and he starts out the story wanting to protect him.
11 Worse - Gary Sinise
Movie studios sometimes do have great ideas that benefit a film or even save it from complete ruin. Gary Sinise as Logan was not one of those ideas. The idea does make sense from the studio's point of view, Sinise was coming off of a decade where he played in some of the 1990s most revered films. Starting with Forest Gump, the actor would then be in Apollo 13 and close out the millennium with The Green Mile. In between those big films were less relevant, but still quality, movies like The Quick and The Dead and Ransom. Despite these great performances giving Sinise positive recognition, none of them make a believable argument for him playing Wolverine, even though he was rumored for the role.
He was almost cast as Wolverine, I guess he didn't have... the claws. YEAAHHHHH.
Any actor who will play Wolverine has to be convincing as an action star and it is hard to imagine the former star of CSI: New York carrying an action movie. Perhaps if Wolverine's powers were playing bass in a cover band named after his character from Forest Gump, then there might have been a chance. But as it were, the studio was definitely not thinking about the actual quality of the film when they were vying for Sinise in the main role.
10 Better - Edward Norton
Edward Norton is a strange amalgam for an actor. On first look he appears lanky and dorky, but there is an intensity buried with in him that shines in his best work. It is part of the reason he made such an incredible Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk (though Marc Ruffalo is no slouch either). This same hidden darkness is why he would have been a great choice for Wolverine.
The two comic book heroes, Hulk and Wolverine, are polar opposites of sorts. Bruce Banner is socially awkward, but becomes a raging green beast once his anger spirals out of control. Wolverine constantly wears a mean face paired with a statuesque physique, but due to his long lifespan he is a man out of his time who is not always the best in social encounters. People who seem so different are often more similar than initially believed, so Ed Norton would have no trouble adapting to the role. Maybe as a trade Hugh Jackman can play The Hulk someday? We're sure Mark Ruffalo can be convinced to give him a turn for just one movie.
To clear up any possible confusion, this article is talking about Edward Norton the actor and not Ralph Cramden's buffoonish best friend on The Honeymooners.
9 Worse - Dougray Scott
People say everything happens for a reason. Whether one believes in fate or not, it cannot be denied that sometimes unforeseen circumstances work out for the best. While this saying may be comforting for some, it would perhaps not be best to lay this platitude on Dougray Scott. Considering how close he was to becoming one of the most beloved characters in comic book films. Dougray Scott had the role in his hands and was supposed to start filming after production on Mission Impossible II. Unfortunately, the John Woo directed spy film hit several snags leading to countless delays. This forced Scott to drop out of X-Men, presumably followed by Bryan Singer and the producers scrambling to find a new lead actor to a movie that already started filming.
I guess we should thank Mission Impossible for having multiple delays.
The rest, as they say, was history with Hugh Jackman being cast. It was ultimately for the best because Dougray Scott, while certainly talented, doesn't have the same charisma as Jackman. He's always a welcome addition to any movie, but carrying an entire franchise on his talent is a whole other challenge. We hope Dougray is not too sore about losing the role of a lifetime, since he still has an extremely accomplished career.
8 Better - Garrett Hedlund
Garrett Hedlund really has what it takes to sit among the A-listers, but the roles that come to him always seem to be in movies that under perform. 2010's Tron: Legacy was far from a flop, but failed to catapult Garrett into stardom. Five years later, he would play James Hook, Peter Pan's soon to be nemesis, in Pan which served as a prequel to the well known fairy tale. Hedlund delivered a stellar performance, ultimately stealing the show from the other stars, but the film itself failed to even recoup its budget at the box office.
Maybe his real big break could come in the form of a clawed mutant with anger management issues.
Naysayers will point out how the last two blockbusters Hedlund starred in did not rake in the dough like a proper blockbuster should, but none of that has anything to do with his acting chops. On top of his abilities as an actor, he's got a pretty face that would look phenomenal if they were framed by those iconic side burns. Let's hope Kevin Feige takes him into consideration when it really is time to cast a new Wolverine.
And for what it's worth, Garrett Hedlund would have made a fantastic Han Solo, but we're still rooting Alden Ehrenreich to do a great job.
7 Worse - Gerard Butler
When describing the character of Wolverine, rugged is a word that quickly comes to mind. Gerard Butler certainly has this kind of look with his many masculine features like the creases on his fore heard, the grey in the temples, the crowe's feet, and the all around macho demeanor. Despite his macho qualities, previous action movies he's starred in demonstrate that he may not be the best candidate for the adamantium infused super hero.
The best example would be one of his most famous roles - King Leonidas. On the positive side, Butler certainly had the dedication to mold his body into a chiseled muscular form for the part. On the other hand, his actual performance was far too melodramatic. Wolverine needs to be scary when his rage takes over, and the Scottish actor would not be able to pull this off.
This is not to say that Gerard Butler is not a talented actor. On the contrary, he has turned in solid performances in movies like Law Abiding Citizen, Machine Gun Preacher, and Olympus Has Fallen. He certainly has what it takes to become a part of the MCU, but he would be better served playing a different character.
6 Better - Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix has had a long, accomplished career mostly focused on hard hitting dramas that exist on the edge of the mainstream. Occasionally he'll dip his to into a-list territory with roles like Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and playing the villain in Gladiator. He's certainly a talent to be reckoned with, but none of these roles would be a convincing case for playing Wolverine. However, his recent performance in You Were Never Really Here showcases an entirely different aspect of the actor's abilities that prove his capability for the role.
While only an action movie by a certain stretch of the term, You Were Never Really Here is a movie about violence, crime, justice, and conspiracy. The hero is a wrapped up in mystery and by the end, not meaning to give too much away, no direct answers are given as to why Joaquin's character is who he is or why he makes the decisions he makes throughout the movie. He's got a dark past and has a menacing aura about him, but Joaquin's performance brings a sensitivity and humor to a character that could have easily been a cliched action anti-hero.
These characteristics that are showcased in You Were Never Really Here are exactly what a new Wolverine would need, and Joaquin Phoenix could surely deliver them in full effect.
5 Worse - Mark Wahlberg
This entry won't make the argument that musicians cannot be Wolverine, since Hugh Jackman is a supremely talented song and dance man himself, but Marky Mark is not exactly on the same level as the Australian actor when it comes to musical ability. Musical endeavors aside, there are many obvious reasons why Mark Wahlberg should never be let anywhere near the beloved comic book character.
Sorry Mark, we don't want you or the Funky Bunch for this role.
While Wahlberg has certainly had some incredible roles in movies like Boogie Nights, The Fighter, Pain & Gain, and The Departed. His action films often fail to do anything special except leave a blight on his career. Every time he tries to be tough in an action film, he always comes off whiny and irritable. The only time this was an advantage for the actor was in the 2010 action comedy The Other Guys. Wahlberg's character is a wannabe hard boiled cop who often tries to appear intimidating, but ends up being all bark and no bite. When not in a comedic setting, his tough guy attitude does not impress audiences.
Mark Wahlberg has already grabbed the ire of video game fans with his lackluster performance in 2008's Max Payne. It is in his best interest to stay away from Wolverine unless he wants to attract the same fury from comic books readers. .
4 Better - John Krasinski
Every once in a while there comes an actor who is familiar to audiences for a long time before the true extent of their talent is fully revealed. In the past there was Woody Harrelson on Cheers before Natural Born Killers, Tom Hanks' string of eighties comedies before wowing audiences in Forest Gump, and John Krasinski on The Office before becoming a movie star and director. His turn on the hit NBC comedy does not make a convincing case for him becoming Wolverine, but his part in 13 Hours and his directorial projects do make him seem like a good fit for the role.
Think about the endless supply of Wolverine and The Office memes the internet will come up with if he is eventually cast as the character. In 13 Hours, his first action movie, John shows his ability to be a convincing presence in this type of film while still bringing the drama. His writing and directing is also evidence that he understands characters and their relationships to the story. He would be able to contribute more than just a performance to the character of Wolverine. As long as he doesn't look into the camera with silly face every time another mutant says something funny or inappropriate, he should do a stellar job with the part.
3 Worse - Sam Worthington
Sam Worthington is one of those actors who is always just on the edge of stardom. He starred in one of the most successful movies ever made, Avatar, and has a few other big budget blockbusters under his belt. None of those films, unfortunately, have made him a house hold name even though many of the movies are well known themselves. Sam is a more than capable talent, but there is something about him that would make one skeptical regarding his ability to play everyone's favorite mutant.
Sam's got the look and surely would have no difficulties getting into shape, but his performances often lack any sort of humor. Sometimes this is exactly what a character needs, but Wolverine is an entirely different type of role. None of his humorous moments are intentional on the part of the character, and this makes him all the more difficult to portray. Maybe there is room for Sam in a superhero movie somewhere, but not as Wolverine. With the MCU's excellent track record on casting, they could surely find the right role for him.
Additionally, he would probably spend half of the movie rambling about the numbers, and that would just confuse audiences unless they were fans of Call of Duty: Black Ops.
2 Worse - Liam Hemsworth
As interesting as it would be to have two real life brothers costar together in a big superhero film, it would probably break audiences' suspension of disbelief when they think "wow, Thor and Wolverine sure look similar!". However, this is not the only reason why casting directors should stay away from the other Hemsworth brother if they end up recasting the iconic comic book hero.
Liam Hemsworth, while certainly a good looking actor, still has work to do with his acting ability. He's seven years younger than Chris Hemsworth so he still has time to work on his craft, but at the moment he is not ready to take on such a difficult character. Previous performances in The Expendables 2 and The Hunger Games trilogy are evidence him still a bit green. Additionally, he is still too fresh faced to be a believable Wolverine.
Sorry Liam, you need to have a beard to get on this ride.
This is not to say that he will forever be a bad choice for the character. Perhaps he will be ready in ten years or so when he has matured as an actor and developed a few wrinkles on his face. Some actors take many years to unlock their true potential, and this may also be the case with Liam Hemsworth.
1 Better - Dafne Keen
Ultimately this is what most people want in the future and is what's really the best for the franchise. As of 2018 Dafne Keen is thirteen years old, they should wait until she is an adult then bring her character, X-23, back into the fold. Her performance is Logan is more than enough proof that she is ready to lead a movie all on her own. In fact, most readers are probably tearing up a little bit now remembering the bond X-23, or Laura, and Wolverine formed throughout the course of that movie. Most full grown actors lack the ability to make audiences feel emotions on screen, and she did it before becoming a teenager.
This would be the most appropriate way to respect Hugh Jackman's performance.
Maybe, much like sports jersey numbers, character's should be retired once an actor has delivered such a stellar interpretation like Hugh has done. If X-23 continues in the role, it will be a permanent acknowledgement of Wolverine's contribution to the MCU (or X-Men films). If this doesn't happen and Wolverine is simply recast, viewers are bound to miss Hugh Jackman and clamor for his return. We're pretty sure Disney doesn't want an unhappy audience.
So there you have it! What actor do you want to see take on the role in the future? Let us know in the comments!