Hugh Jackman has made it official: the upcoming third Wolverine solo movie will be his last outing as the character.

Image provided by imdb/FOX

It’s not a total shock. By the time Wolverine 3 comes out in 2017, Jackman will have played the character in at least eight movies over a period of 17 years. The actor was in his early 30s when he first took on the role and will be much closer to 50 when he wraps.

Jackman’s Wolverine run is an impressive feat. The 2000 X-Men movie kickstarted the modern superhero cinema boom. Jackman has been the face of the franchise. Even after the semi-reboot of X-Men: First Class, Jackman still managed to turn up. In the past two years, he brought an older version of the character to The Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Fans have loved the actor in the role. And it made him a big star.

Jackman has never been a one-trick pony, though. He successfully diversified, almost from the start. He’s appeared in a variety of other movies across an array of genres. He earned an Oscar nomination for the musical Les Miserables. And he’s been a frequent presence on Broadway, where he won a Tony for The Boy from Oz. He’s demonstrated savvy career planning.

So Jackman will be fine once he hangs up Wolverine’s claws for the last time. But what about the X-Men movie franchise?

In many ways, Wolverine 3 and 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse will be an end of an era for the franchise. The latter film will introduce several new actors playing classic X-Men characters, in an ‘80s setting. It will also mark what filmmakers have acknowledged will be the swan song for several actors who debuted in First Class.

Will Jackman’s departure precipitate a full reboot for the X-Men movie franchise? It may well.

20th Century FOX holds the X-Men movie rights and they’ve mostly done well. But when compared to the success that Marvel Studios has had with its films, it almost feels like FOX has left money on the table. Petty, unseemly squabbles with Marvel haven’t helped the situation.

Without Jackman, FOX has to re-create its X-Men franchise. Making X-Men movies without the team’s most popular character isn’t a feasible long-range plan. A new Wolverine necessitates a fresh start for the whole franchise. FOX might be able to use some of the actors from Apocalypse, depending on fan reaction. But after Wolverine 3 a definitive break with the past movies is almost unavoidable.

It would be good for fans if FOX would follow Sony’s Spider-Man lead and collaborate with Marvel as a true partner. But absent that, FOX needs to find a replacement for Jackman around whom they can build a successful, modern franchise. As enjoyable as the forays to past decades have been in the First Class era, FOX needs a present day-set X-Men with all of its most valuable characters onboard.

That won’t be an easy project. But with Jackman departing, it’s imperative for FOX to carefully map out a plan for future X-Men success.

Originally published at on May 8, 2015.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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