It’s not often that my eight-year-old son and my seventy-something-year-old mother are both jealous of me over the same interview, but that pretty much sums up the preposterously broad appeal of Hugh Jackman.
“The Wolverine” marks the sixth time that he has played the character, and he’ll do it again next summer for “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” and at this point, I’d say he owns the character in terms of public perception. What makes “The Wolverine” work is the way it builds off of even the less successful films in the series to explore the sadness and pain that drive the character at this point.
I stopped in New York for approximately 24 hours on my way back from London, and within an hour of me getting to my hotel, I was sitting across from Jackman, jet-lagged and punchy and not entirely sure what was going on. Even so, as soon as you start talking to the guy, he’s so engaged and enthusiastic that you want to respond in kind.
It’s very smart of Jackman to take control of where the character is headed, because if he wants to keep playing the part, he obviously needed to make a major course correction. I’m still confused about what the point of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was, and it’s obvious that no one on that film had a clear idea of why they needed to tell that story. Here, they’re working from one of the most famous storylines in the history of the comic, and they’ve got Mark Bomback and Scott Frank writing it, and that amount of brain power managed to come up with something that felt like a new chapter in this character’s story and not just more of the same for no good reason. I even think the use of Famke Janssen as Jean Grey here makes the ending of “The Last Stand” count in a way that the film itself never managed.
I have no idea how much longer Jackman’s going to be willing to subject himself to the extreme physical demands of playing this role, but it’s obvious that he is still determined to do the best possible job every time he plays the part, and that’s one of the reasons it’s still worth watching him work.
“The Wolverine” will appear in theaters July 26, 2013. And when it does, make sure you stay for the credits. Seeeeeeeeriously.