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Everyone who has seen Logan earlier this year knows it was a perfect swansong for Hugh Jackman in his most iconic role. It was a fantastic 17-year run that is unlikely to be repeated. Whilst it is debatable whether the role of Wolverine should be recast so soon, it will happen at some point: he is one of the most famous and popular members of the X-Men.
Wolverine would certainly be a sought after role and there would be a number of candidates – from established stars to emerging talent. For the sake of realism, no candidates should currently have a major role in a rival superhero property and all would have to be younger than Hugh Jackman. This rules out popular candidates like The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus, Rory McCann and Jackman’s suggested candidate Shah Rukh Khan because of their age and Iwan Rheon is currently attached to the Marvel series Inhumans. However, for the record, this scene from Game of Thrones shows what a McCann Wolverine could have been like.
Scott Eastwood is the youngest son of legendary actor/director Clint Eastwood and often cited as a potential actor to take over the Wolverine role. At 31-years of age Scott Eastwood would be the same age as Hugh Jackman when the Australian actor first played the role and Scott Eastwood is seen as an emerging actor in his own right. Besides appearing in some of his father’s films, Eastwood has had supporting roles in Fury and Suicide Squad and has roles in The Fate of the Furious and Pacific Rim: Uprising.
When Jackman played Wolverine he was compared to Clint Eastwood, especially in his gruff Western roles, so if Fox wants to continue in that mould then casting Clint’s son would be the way to go.
Scott Eastwood also shares Jackman’s good looks – Scott Eastwood has worked as a model and he could step into the role that Jackman has vacated.
Australian actor Joel Edgerton is a talented individual: as well as acting, he has written and directed films. Edgerton has had tremendous success in Hollywood as well as his homeland. Yet he is an actor who has focused on more dramatic roles and rarely ventures into action films. In the 2011 movie Warrior, Edgerton plays an MMA fighter who comes out of retirement to save his family home: a role he obviously had to physically prepare for and show off his fighting prowess. Edgerton also played the leader of the SEAL Team Six in Zero Dark Thirty – experience that would fit the role of Wolverine who has been a part of a secret team of mutants brainwashed to be soldiers. Edgerton could easily follow in Hugh Jackman’s footsteps to play Wolverine: his hair could easily be manipulated to look like the comic book character’s style.
From Pontypool in Wales, Luke Evans is one of those actors who has flirted with stardom, appearing in the Fast and Furious and The Hobbit series and was given a starring vehicle with 2014’s Dracula Untold. He has also earned a lot of praise for his roles in High-Rise and Beauty and the Beast.
At 37 Evans is just about the right age to play Wolverine, he has a muscular physique, making him a sex symbol and his long hair would fit the character. Evans’ previous experience in action roles would also come in handy when he unleashes the claws.
Evans has brought a certain intensity to his roles, which would fit Wolverine as he faces off against his many enemies or suffer flashbacks of his violent past.
If Evans is cast as Wolverine it would mark the second time he shared a role with Hugh Jackman: the first being Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Jackman played Gaston on the West End in London. They even performed together on The Jonathan Ross Show.
Born and raised in Liverpool, Stephen Graham is a prolific character actor, appearing in movies and TV shows on both sides of the Pond. His credits include This is England and its spin-off TV series, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the recent BBC hit Taboo. He is best known for playing Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire and this role could earn him the Wolverine mantle. Despite his short stature, Capone was an intimidating presence throughout the series, being violent and volatile, yet was also humorous at times and there were moments of tenderness when Capone was with his deaf son. Wolverine shares some of these characteristics and Graham would easily be able to do what’s required.
At 5’6 Graham is only three inches taller than the comic book character’s official stated height, he has a stocky frame and the actor has more of a rugged look than Hugh Jackman. Considering how iconic Jackman was in the role it might be best for the filmmakers and producers to go in a different direction in portraying the character to avoid direct comparisons and allow an actor to give their own interpretations.
There are some drawbacks with Graham: he lacks the star power that other candidates have and at 43 years of age (only five years younger than Jackman) makes him the oldest actor on this list. He would be a dark horse candidate.
Jake Gyllenhaal is another actor who has often been pitched as a potential replacement as Wolverine. It is would not be the first time he has been linked to playing a superhero. He was once considered to play Spider-Man in Spider-man 2 when it seemed Tobey Maguire was unable to play the role due to injury and auditioned to lead Batman Begins – losing out to Christian Bale.
At 36 Gyllenhaal has a surprisingly long and impressive filmography – working with talented directors like David Fincher, Denis Villeneuve, David Ayer and Duncan Jones which has shown he has a terrific range. For the film Southpaw, Gyllenhaal got into great shape to play a world champion boxer while giving dark turns in movies like Nightcrawler and Prisoners.
Gyllenhaal has flirted with action stardom before – playing Dastan in 2010’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time yet he has shied away from this type of fare. He would be perfectly capable of playing the character and it would give him a guaranteed paycheque so he can fund smaller projects.
Tom Hardy is often touted as a potential replacement for Wolverine and fan favorite for the role. There is certainly a case to be made for Hardy – he has the rugged looks of the character, a broad muscular frame and at 5’9, an average height, more fitting for the comic book character. Hardy has played hard, gruff characters, playing iconic characters like Max Rockatansky and Bane as well as starring in movies like Bronson and Warrior. He would have no problem playing Wolverine as a bad-ass or a brooding rogue who is willing to unleash his claws at any given opportunity. It would be great to see Hardy do Wolverine’s Berserker Rage.
Hardy has also shown he has no issue taking on an iconic role – starring in Mad Max: Fury Road: but this does lead to an issue – Hardy has already appeared in two major franchises and he turned down the role of Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad. Hardy would, however, command a high paycheque and his experience in two other popular franchises may make him hesitant to lead a third.
Toby Kebbell is another actor on the edge of stardom and because of his roles in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Warcraft he has been declared the heir to Andy Serkis. Yet outside of wearing skin tight suits, Kebbell has yet to pick the right roles since his breakout in RocknRolla. Yet he has the potential to be a star: he has the looks and fitness to be an action hero and clearly has the acting chops to play Wolverine. Kebbell stole the show in Warcraft as the noble orc chieftain Durotan who wants to make a deal with citizens of Azeroth – distrusting The Horde’s leader. The fantasy movie would have been much more interesting if it only focused on this character. At 34 years of age, Kebbell would be just the right act to play Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman was only 31 years old when he cast as Wolverine and partly why he played the role for so long. As he got older he grew into the role and looked more like the comic book character as he aged. If Fox wants to replicate this longevity then they would need to cast another young actor and Jack O’Connell would fit the bill.
O’Connell is only 26, 27 later this year, and he is already seen as a star in the making of movies like Starred Up, ’71 and Unbroken and he has the qualities to play the role. He has already played physical roles and has buffed up when he performed in Starred Up and 300: Rise of an Empire and played the athlete Louis Zamperini in Unbroken.
His performance in Starred Up serves as the best example of what O’Connell could be like as Wolverine. In Starred Up O’Connell stars as a young man bumped up to an adult prison because of his violent nature. O’Connell convinced both as the violent young man who explores with rage to being more calculating with his strikes.
Fans of Vikings will recognize Northern Irish actor Clive Standen as Rollo – the vicious warrior who lives in the shadow of his brother. There are numerous times in the History Channel show that Standen has fought topless with nothing but an axe and gets covered in his enemy’s blood: it would be easy to imagine Standen swapping the axe for a set of adamantium claws. Standen has proven he can do berserker rage and has the physique to play the comic book character and in season four of Vikings showed he can display animalistic lust when Rollo consummates his marriage to a French princess.
At 35-years-old Standen could have a long run as Wolverine and he can easily handle the action sequences. As well as starring in Vikings, Standen has also appeared in shows like Camelot, the BBC’s Robin Hood and Atlantis and is currently playing Bryan Mills in NBC’s Taken: showing that Standen has no issue taking on iconic roles.
Another emerging actor is Irishman Aidan Turner – best known for his roles in Being Human, The Hobbit Trilogy and currently leads the BBC’s Poldark. At 33 Turner has won a number of admirers in the UK and Ireland, being seen as a sex symbol because of the BBC roles, showing in Poldark he has rugged handsomeness and due to his character working the land he developed some nice muscles. In Being Human he played an 117-year-old vampire who fought in the First World War and also has to fight his bloodlust, sharing some character aspects with Wolverine.
Turner has already been considered as a candidate to play the next James Bond – we even proposed it – and the idea has gained more credence after leading the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for the BBC.