Have you ever heard of a movie called Erskineville Kings? How about Paperback Hero? No?
What about TV... Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, Blue Heelers, Correlli? Still no?
You are not alone. It is doubtful that anyone outside of Australia has heard of (certainly not seen) any of Hugh Jackman's work before X-Men. That movie and that role launched his career. It didn't necessarily pave the way to awards, but it certainly put him in the spotlight, and for good reason. Brian Singer's vision for a superhero franchise gripped the hearts of moviegoers and comic book readers alike. While it was a bit reserved in the flair of costumes, it was very true to the characters and group dynamics that the X-Men comics are known for. It was passionate and, for its time, had innovative action sequences. He built numerous character stories that intertwined, developed the two communities of warring mutants, and presented a world saturated by superheroes to a film audience that had otherwise never been formally introduced. And he did it all that without a single origin story! Okay, they go back a little with Charles and Eric, but not much. In the center of it all was this guy called Logan.
Before the Avengers Initiative was ever a legend amongst movie and comic book geeks… before Christopher Nolan redefined the Caped Crusader… before Robert Downey Jr suited up… before Tobey McGuire tried on his first red and blue spandex bodysuit… there was the Wolverine. Think about it. The only other superhero films of that time were the Joel Schumacher Batman movies. Gross! But then the X-Men came in and brought some much needed dignity to the genre. And the fan favorite was the anti-hero, Wolverine.
It was a stepping stone that he could have used and walked away from. That wasn't the case, he just kept coming back. Some of the sequels have been great and well received... others, not so much. Still he is running with this character. Every time he comes back, he has put even more time into the acting, the energy, and the workout of the character. He looks better every time.
While some of the movies have been lousy (i.e. Last Stand, Origins), Hugh Jackman's performance as Wolverine has consistently been the best element throughout. He puts his heart into every role he takes on, and Wolverine is no different. He has become a thread that has run through every X-Men movie that has been made over the last 14 years... and there are still more to come. Take a look below at how much he has done with the character!
X-Men 2 (2003)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
X-Men: First Class (2011) (minor, uncredited role)
The Wolverine (2013)
X-Men: Days Of Futures Past (2014)
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Untitled Wolverine Film (2017)
I'm guessing he will also make an appearance in the Deadpool movie.
He also has done voice work for two X-Men games.
They couldn't even make X-Men: First Class without putting him in it. Sure, the movie would have been fine without him, but it was a nod to the others as well as a clear indicator that the new X-Men cast is still in the same universe. Not bad for a guy that is almost a foot too tall for his role. I don't know how many more times he is going to play the character, and he may not either, but it will eventually come to an end... and I feel like it is going to be soon.
Either way, I said all that to say this: Thank you. Hugh Jackman will likely never read this, but that does not diminish the sentiment, nor does it lessen my sincerity. As fans we can all share in the legacy that he has created. This is just as much for my fellow film nerds as it is for the man himself. So, here it goes...
For all the hard work and dedication making the X-Men franchise the best it could be, for coming back even after some movies weren't well received, for believing a character can transcend a film reel, for not giving up on the fans even when they might have given up on you, for spending what will eventually be almost two decades suiting up on the big screen... from myself and a host of adoring geeks, fans, and film lovers...