We hate to say it, but some day, Hugh Jackman has to hang up his claws and retire. Unlike Wolverine, the Marvel Comics character that the 47-year-old Australian actor famous, the latter continues to age, and despite packing muscle on top of, underneath, and in between muscle for each subsequent appearance in the X-Men franchise, there will come a day when he just can’t keep up with those superpowered X-kids anymore.
Jackman knows this. With a suspected small role in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse (at least going by the claws we saw in the latest trailer), he will have played Wolverine in nine films, and recently announced that his tenth turn as the character, the 2017 sequel to The Wolverine, will be his last.
But 20th Century Fox has no plans to surrender the X-Men property any time soon. With rumors that post-credit scenes in Apocalypse set the franchise up for years to come, the pointy boots of the property’s most recognizable character will be filled by someone eventually.
But who? Who has the acting chops, the physique, the animalistic rage, and perhaps most importantly, the youth, to play the X-Men’s breakout character?
Here are 14 Actors Who Could Replace Hugh Jackman As Wolverine.
14 Karl Urban
Urban is no stranger to sci-fi/fantasy/comic fare, with roles in the Star Trek film series, Lord of the Rings, and box-office-flop-turned-cult-classic Dredd. Though he’s a little tall for Wolvie at 6’1”, he has the right physicality for it, and the right scrappy, cigar-chomping demeanor to pull it off successfully.
He’s one of the older entries on the list at 43, meaning he probably wouldn’t get too many turns as the character before he has to turn over the adamantium to the next generation. But audiences might need a Hugh Jackman-esque actor as the next Wolverine to ease the transition and pave the way for a younger actor to redefine the character in the future. You could do worse than Karl Urban.
Though Urban is pretty married to the idea of playing Judge Dredd again in either a film or streaming TV series sequel to the 2012 film, there’s no confirmation such a thing will come to pass. In the meantime, he could look at the X-Men franchise to round out his resume.
13 Charlie Hunnam
Best known for playing the violent and rugged Jax Teller on the FX series Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam definitely has the goods to play Wolverine in the acting and physicality department.
Hunnam is one of those actors who is still looking for his big screen break. Yes, Pacific Rim fans, we know you’re nodding your head in disapproval over that last comment, but please be fair and remember that the film didn’t exactly set the domestic box office on fire. Wolverine could be the role that makes Hunnam a bankable box office star and a household name.
Like Urban, at 6’1”, Hunnam’s still a bit too tall for comic purists, but he’s only 36 years old, meaning that he could play the character longer. He’ll have to dye his hair and make a couple of other mild aesthetic changes to his overall look, but his roles thus far have shown that he’s rough-and-tumble enough to take the claws to the next level.
12 Toby Kebbell
If anyone needs a superhero film redemption, it’s Toby Kebbell. The English actor’s most high-profile role to date came in the widely despised 2015 Fantastic Four film. In it, he played Dr. Doom, and though he did his best with the material, it was a largely forgettable role at best.
Still, he’s a great actor with a lot of respectable performances on his resume, including an incredible mocap performance as main antagonist Koba in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That film alone is enough to show that Kebbell can do physically-demanding, animalistic roles, and he’s a pretty scruffy-looking guy t’boot.
He’s pretty tall at 6’2”, but he’s young (33) and ready for his big break in Hollywood. Forgive him for Fantastic Four, and Toby Kebbell could make a great Wolverine.
11 Anson Mount
Anson Mount is one of those actors you’ve definitely seen before even if you don’t recognize his name and can’t quite place him. He’s worked regularly in TV and film since the late 90s, with his most high-profile roles in AMC’s western Hell on Wheels and the 2014 video game The Evil Within.
It’s not just just fairly-known actors looking for box office breaks we want to consider for Wolverine. Remember that Hugh Jackman was an unknown when he was cast all the way back in 2000’s X-Men. Mount is a solid actor who plays “tortured” well, and he’s in the right physical shape to take on the character.
Yeah, he’s tall (6’2”) and a little older than most of the candidates on this list (43), but if you want to give a fresh actor a chance at the character, and one who can do rugged and grumpy, Anson Mount is as good a choice as any on this list.
10 Alex O’Loughlin
Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin is another actor you can’t quite place from that one thing you saw. He has been working consistently for over a decade, and has secured big roles in TV on shows like Hawaii Five-0, Moonlight and The Shield.
Another actor ready for a big screen break, O’Loughlin would bring some decent credentials to the X-Men film franchise. He does a lot of his own stunt work and has played a variety of roles, including villains, which means he has good range for a complex character like Wolverine.
He’s just over 6 feet and 39-years-old, but he has solid acting chops and the intimidation needed for a compelling performance as the X-Man. Though he might not be able to lead a big franchise on his own, his casting as Wolverine would work just fine if 20th Century Fox reboots Wolverine into more of a supporting character, with occasional flashes of badassery.
9 Luke Evans
Luke Evans has built his career on fantasy/action roles, appearing in The Hobbit trilogy, Dracula Untold, and Clash of the Titans. He has built a reputation as a very physical actor, and his portrayal of Dracula is proof of concept that he could take Wolverine into his first on-screen Berzerker rage.
He’s 6’0”, the shortest on the list so far (don’t worry, we’ll explore shorter actors too) and 37-years-old, so he has a bit of mileage in him if he wants to settle into a role like Wolverine for the next several years.
Still, if you think he’s a little too pretty, a little too old, and a little too tall to inherit one of comics’ most high-profile roles, we’ve got another possibility here that should prove that we’re at least willing to take a look at any and all possible actors to play Wolverine.
8 Iwan Rheon
If you watch Game of Thrones (who are we kidding, everyone watches Game of Thrones), then just seeing Iwan Rheon’s name and photo on this list sent a bit of a chill down your spine. Not since Joffrey Bieber has there been a more cruel, capricious, and hated character than Rheon’s Ramsay Bolton on the hit HBO show, and this is a show that’s known for characters you hate.
It might be hard to picture Rheon playing anyone else, but that’s sort of the reason we like him. He needs another high profile role so we can see what kind of range he’s capable of (besides, you know, psychotic). He’s in good shape and could easily pack on another 20 pounds to play Wolverine, and has an animal-like intensity unlike anyone else on TV.
Other perks include: He’s pretty short (5’8”, told you we were also considering shorter actors), and he’s 31-years-old, meaning that if he fits Wolverine well, he could redefine the role for years to come.
7 Jack O’Connell
Jack O’Connell starred in the Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken in 2014 and in Jodie Foster's Money Monster, which came out last week. Besides that (and a bunch of other smaller roles) he’s largely an unknown here in the states. Overseas, he has established a name for himself as an actor of incredible range, and his role as a violent teen imprisoned with his father in 2013’s Starred Up is considered his breakout.
Unbroken didn’t take the box office by storm and the critical response was mostly “meh,” so O’Connell is still poised to replicate his overseas success domestically.
He’s young (25), but he already looks pretty lived-in, and could probably maintain Wolverine’s agelessness for well over a decade, just like Jackman. He’s also around the right height (5’8”), and his roles to date show that he can handle physical acting. If he hit the gym and packed on a bit of weight, he’d be a serious contender for the role.
6 Tom Hardy
You know exactly who Tom Hardy is and what he can do. Arguably the most famous and successful actor on this list, Hardy’s resume is proof-positive that he can handle the range, intensity and physicality required to play a convincing Wolverine.
But just for fun, let’s go through the checklist. Is Tom Hardy physically intimidating? We submit The Dark Knight Rises and Bronson for your consideration. Can he play brooding, grumpy characters? See: Lawless and Mad Max: Fury Road. How tall is he? 5’9” (not bad). He. Would. Be. Great.
The only minor drawback is his age. At 38, he wouldn’t be able to play the character as long as we’d want (if you like the idea), but he’s not the oldest actor suggested on this list, so he’s definitely a contender for the role.
But Hardy’s career is firing on all cylinders and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down. It might be harder to get him on board than an unknown like …
5 Landon Liboiron
If you’re shaking your head at this point, it’s probably because you know this actor from that weird, short-lived, not-so-great Netflix show Hemlock Grove. Hear us out.
In it, he played Peter Rumancek, a nomadic, tortured and surly werewolf with a dark past. Playing Wolverine is like 10% refusing to settle down anywhere, 20% pain of any kind, 20% bitter sarcasm and 50% reflecting intensely on your dark past. If we can agree that those are the main requirements, then Landon Liboiron has already done it.
He’s 5’10” which is a good compromise on height (as long as Wolverine is shorter than Cyclops, everyone should be okay). The only major drawbacks are his physicality and his age. Though he can do animalistic rage, we don’t know if he can pack on the muscle mass needed for Wolverine. A thin, scrappy Wolverine? Yes. Someone in Hugh Jackman’s league? Better start taking that creatine, Landon.
He’s also 24, which is just maybe a tad too young for the role right now. With a few more projects under his belt and a bit more mileage, he could be a solid choice for Wolverine. Alternatively, they could remake X-Men Origins: Wolverine and stick closer to the source material, which would justify casting a younger James Howlett/Logan for the majority of the film.
4 Taron Egerton
If Jack O’Connell and Landon Liboiron are a bit on the young side, Taron Egerton might be a good compromise. At 26, the British actor is best known for his lead role in 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. He’s 5’10”, in great physical shape, and has shown that he can pull off some of Wolverine’s anti-hero qualities in his work so far.
Egerton, more than perhaps any other actor on this list, would have a great opportunity to grow into the role over the next several years. Starting off with an origin reboot, as we suggested with Liboiron, might be the way to go here as well, but Egerton is slightly ahead in age, meaning that he could hone and own the role into his mid-30s and keep going strong until he’s Jackman’s age.
Of course Egerton might be a tad on the soft side for Wolverine. What we really need is a viking ...
3 Clive Standen
Clive Standen is best known for his portrayal of Rollo on History’s critically-acclaimed period drama Vikings. Rollo is described by History as “impulsive, wild and compulsive,” a “fierce fighter” who is “intense and always unpredictable.” Sound like anyone who prefers dressing in yellow spandex we know?
Honestly, “played a viking” should be enough of a resume piece to play Wolverine, but that’s not all Standen is capable of. He used to work as a stuntman before transitioning into an acting career, and does most of his stunts in his current roles. He’s also proficient in Muay Thai and is built like a gorilla, meaning he could bring a level of intensity and physical prowess to the X-Men that hasn’t been explored to its fullest extent yet.
He’s 34, so he’s at a good age to take on the part -- a good mix of youth and experience. The only downside is that he’s a giant at 6’2”, but with his resume, do you think we could let him slide on the height requirement?
2 Travis Fimmel
No? 6’2” is too tall? What if we dropped two inches to 6’0”, but kept “played a viking” on the resume? Then we could consider another Vikings star, Travis Fimmel, for Wolverine.
Fimmel is 36 and also built like a freaking tank. All of the animal intensity and physicality of Standen applies to Fimmel as well, though he might need to rely on his stuntman just a tad more.
The only real downside of casting Fimmel is that he has openly stated that he doesn’t want to be famous and is only in show business for the money. Since Wolverine is one of the most recognizable roles in Hollywood, it’d be pretty hard to maintain his anonymity.
However, in another interview, he said that he will quit acting as soon as he has enough money to buy and sustain his own farm. Acknowledging that farming is a pretty tough gig, he has admitted that his dream job might be a longer-term proposition.
Unless of course he inks a multi-million deal for Wolverine. He could buy 10 farms in as many years with that kind of money and keep them running for centuries. Maybe the fame just might be worth it.
1 Michiel Huisman
Michiel Huisman achieved international fame when he replaced Ed Skrien as on HBO’s Game of Thrones in Season 4. He had played minor-to-supporting roles in various TV shows and films before then, but like everyone else on Thrones, his performance there is what made him a star.
More than most actors on this list, he’s completely ready for a big screen debut right now, and his first major role will be a make-or-break one. Why not give him a shot at Wolverine?
He has proven that he’s willing to do what it takes to get a part (he put on a ton of weight for GoT), he’s grungy but charming (the latter might not be important in comics, but in film it counts), and he’s 34, a good age for a new Wolverine with some longevity in him.
He’s a little tall at 6’0” but, come on, why are we stressing over the height so much? You know you don’t want Tom Cruise and Jason Statham isn’t as short as you think he is! Let’s make peace with a tall Wolverine, fans. What we really want at the end of the day is a good Wolverine anyway.
Did we miss anyone on this list? Let us know who you think would make the best replacement for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the comments.