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– by David Kozlowski

Wolverine / Logan / Jackman

There’s not much more to say regarding Jackman’s Wolverine, it set the standard for gravitas and commitment to the role in Marvel films. It’s fair to say that Jackman’s initial performance in Singer’s X-Men opened the doors for other top-notch actors to enter the field (RDJ, Sam Jackson, Josh Brolin, etc.) However, after seventeen years playing Wolverine, Jackman walked away with style; he also closed the book on Wolverine on film… or did he? Remember that Logan was outside of continuity, it was a classic “What If” storyline (Marvel has been publishing “What If” comics for decades). Meanwhile, Fox has been playing fast and loose with time, as X-Men First Class (2011) introduced a parallel narrative that did more to confuse their storytelling than align it.

Fox knows that no one can replace Jackman, but they also know that this character cannot be off-the-board for long, he’s just too iconic and too central to X-Men lore.

The obvious problem with such a character-defining portrayal: how do you follow it up? The easy answer is also the hardest: don’t do anything. Give the character a break for a few years, then bring him back with a new actor in a big, splashy return to the big screen. Build some anticipation, make it count!

Decision: RETIRE


Hulk / Banner / Ruffalo

Bruce Banner is not the only Hulk. That seems odd to say, particularly if you grew up with the CBS TV version in the 70s. In the comics there have been multiple characters cursed with this Gamma-irradiated beast — Red Hulk, Amadeus Cho, She-Hulk, Professor Hulk, Joe Fixit, Skaar, etc. Despite Hulk’s long-running successes in TV and comics, his stand-alone film iterations haven’t exactly caught on with the public — we’re now onto our third Hulk actor on film: Eric Bana, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo. Everyone fell in love with Ruffalo’s Banner and Hulk in The Avengers (2012), and there’s palpable excitement regarding his role in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok (a talking Hulk!)

Ruffalo is a contemporary of RDJ (that means he’s getting old), but given that his portrayal of Hulk is motion-captured it’s conceivable that Ruffalo could continue playing Banner for years and Hulk can just continue on as a CG character. However, at a certain point it’s going to be weird to see a balding or a greying Hulk. Marvel and Universal are also battling over the rights to Hulk, so it’s unlikely we’ll get another stand-alone Hulk any time soon.  Perhaps the best move for Marvel would be to continue using Hulk as a supporting character, but maybe introduce a red or female version of the character, to interject something new and fresh.

Decision: RECAST


ProfessorX / Xavier-Stewart / McAvoy

Fox must have a real love/hate relationship with Logan. If it wasn’t bad enough for Fox that Jackman ended his Wolverine role, this same film also marked the final entry in Patrick Stewart’s extraordinary Professor X/Charles Xavier portrayal. Making matters somewhat more confusing is the recent rise of James McAvoy, who played a younger version of Xavier in three — soon to be four — X-Men films (the ones with all the confusing time-travel stuff). Deciding where exactly the current X-Men timeline resides is a fair and open question, and it’s also anyone’s guess what happens after the next X-Men film. Fox is 1000% continuing with X-Men movies, but now Deadpool has thrown a wrench into things too (example: there are now two concurrent versions of Colossus in these films). Awkward! Oh, if you’re paying attention, you’ll recall that Stewart’s Professor X was also killed in X-Men: The Last Stand… but that didn’t take, obviously.

That leaves the current status of Wolverine (dead), and Professor X (twice dead, but still living), and the whole confusing X-Men overlapping/retconning/conflicting timeline stuff. Whew, this is not easy stuff to keep straight. It’s a reasonable bet that Fox reboots the whole damned thing after next year’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix film (in the comics, a whole bunch of characters are killed). However, much like Wolverine, Fox might be wise to let Professor X take a break for a while — Deadpool’s X-Force movie seems like the next logical chapter in this universe, and maybe it should be the only one for now, too.

Decision: RETIRE

You might notice that we didn’t discuss CG versions for any of the above characters. In X-Men: The Last Stand we saw digitally de-aged versions of Professor X and Magneto, while in Logan Jackman’s Wolverine faced-off against a very believable CG doppleganger. CG characters might very well be a viable fourth option for this debate, but let’s save that perilous trip into the uncanny valley for another day.

Where do you stand regarding the future of Marvel’s aging heroes? Let us know in the comments down below!

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  • Mad Barchetta

    I don’t have much of a disagreement with anything you said. It all makes pretty good sense. The concept of the the full-on CGI character is pretty interesting and close to happening, I would say. While I immediately knew Tarkin in Rogue One wasn’t real, my kids did not. I knew because…well, Cushing would have had to have been the best damn looking 104-year-old ever. They didn’t remember he was in the original. So it seems to make a difference in recognizing the CGI people.

    Meanwhile, “It’s a reasonable bet that Fox reboots the whole damned thing after next year’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix film (in the comics, a whole bunch of characters are killed).”
    What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?? Who died in the original Dark Phoenix comics, other than Jean Grey?

  • Kindofabigdeal

    Is this part of the pro DC/anti Marvel propaganda

    • Neither, we love both DC and Marvel here. Where’d you get the impression we were pushing an agenda?

  • Venomaide

    Wouldnt be a bad idea all CGI movie.

    • chaburchak

      I wouldn’t mind a CGI flick if the animation was of the Arkham Asylum quality…

    • The Tekken games and Arkham Asylum (as chaburchak mentioned below) had amazing cutscenes, I would pay to see an entire movie of this quality with Marvel or DC heroes!

  • randomironicname

    I think Wolverine needs to stay dormant for as long as they can, putting the most separation possible from Jackman’s. I would probably have to say the same about Iron Man/RDJ. I don’t see that character staying prominent without him so Stark could go away for a lengthy period and come back in as more of a secondary player.

    The Singer-verse is such a mess that I really hope they start it over quickly and I don’t see doing that without Prof.X. I would like to either see a true first class with the original 5 members. I don’t necessarily want a beginning origin story but something from the early days that can be built into a consistent decade of stories. (Introduce Wolvie in the 4th movie?)

    • Yeah, I liked the Singer movies, but man they are confusing. I agree with you that Wolverine should stay gone for 4-5 years, but then bring him back in a big way (probably requires a top-to-bottom franchise reboot).

  • Han’s Blaster

    Oi Dave……. bad ideas galore. Where to begin……

    RDJ is fine for now……. seeing him at the end of Homecoming was great and brought back memories of the first film. He is fine- you act like 50 plus is a death sentence. LMAO tell that to Tom Cruise, Sly Stallone, and Liam Neeson. If the story/script is good along with directing- no one cares mate.
    Same with CE. Chris is even younger. Recasting again would be more than lame and unnecessary. And HULK???? Are you for real about a recast? Hilarious. Thor Ragnarok will be awesome and just the
    fact that you mentioned a balding, greying Hulk being a concern is beyond ridiculous. I guess anyone over 40 is ready for a walker and bed pan then? Dave, I like your thoughts on the upcoming Marvel Punisher but in this area you couldn’t be more off base.

    • So you disagree?

      • samjacksonswig

        My belief is that whilst a shred of money can be made from any of the above characters, then the studios will continue to pump out movies regardless of if they have to recast or not. There will be no retirement of anyone so long as $$$$ are involved.

  • Luis Schneider

    I don’t have much of a disagreement with anything you said. It all makes pretty good sense. The concept of the the full-on CGI character is pretty interesting and close to happening, I would say. While I immediately knew Tarkin in Rogue One wasn’t real, my kids did not. I knew because…well, Cushing would have had to have been the best damn looking 104-year-old ever. They didn’t remember he was in the original. So it seems to make a difference in recognizing the CGI people.Meanwhile, “It’s a reasonable bet that Fox reboots the whole damned thing after next year’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix film (in the comics, a whole bunch of characters are killed).”What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?? Who died in the original Dark Phoenix comics, other than Jean Grey?

    • It’s been a while since I read Dark Phoenix, but I was pretty sure there were a couple character deaths… researching…

  • Mr Smart

    It’s literally making me hyperventilate, vomit and lose control of my bowels thinking about how white-male-centric the entirety of the bigoted MCU is. The movies have only been mild successes, if that, and the absolute unarguable reason is the lack of diversity.

    These mildly successful movies need to take a cue from the much more correct comics and rid itself of all heterosexual relationships, they are offensive, remove all masculine men (horrifying) and correctly depict most hu-individuals as homosexual, peaceful practitioners of glorious Islam, awoke hupeople of color, powerful strong womyn or effeminate subordinate men. Also, is there a reason at least 3/4 of the super beings are not teenaged? Ridiculous, MCU, utterly nonsensical.

    You are hereby ordered to recast Thor, Captain America, Iron ***, Hawkeye, Spider-***, Hulk, Vision and immediately replace them with the RIGHT identities as it is with the comics. Womyn, hubeings of color, teenagers, mixed race Latinos, Asians and synthoids that identify as femayle…

    … just like in the comics.

    Period.

    • KilliK’s mother

      I’m offended by your use of the word Latinos, which is male-centric. There must be a more gender neutral option, such as ‘Latinies’ or ‘Latiners’. Honestly, I expected better of you, Mr. Smart, although perhaps I shouldn’t since your name includes the gendered “Mr.”. I thought I knew you. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      • Mr Smart

        As I have said in the past, my use of the honorific “Mr” is and always has been ironic. However, you are correct about my distasteful language regarding what I shall now and forevermore correctly say Latinas.

    • samjacksonswig

      Yawn.

    • William Johnson

      Please tell me that was sarcasm.

  • WTFITBS

    When it comes to any of the X-Men characters, FOX should look at doing another hard reboot and recasting of the main X-Men cinematic universe after they wrap up the Dark Phoenix saga. Continuity is so jacked up that’s its beyond repair and each subsequent film requires you to just forget that something happened with some characters in order for the story to progress.

    I would like them to RETIRE all actors currently playing any X-Men characters, wait about seven years and then debut a new series of films that are based in current day events of the comics. after 17 years we still haven’t received a true straight up X-Men film with the right characters, outfits and a storyline from from the comics. They should just give it a shot for once to see how it turns out.

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.