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Everyone’s favorite surly, adamantium-boned mutant is saddling up for one last ride in Logan.
After 17 years and nine appearances on film, Hugh Jackman has announced that he will no longer wield the claws of Wolverine. Naturally, the announcement has sparked intense conversation over who could possibly take up the role and whether or not Jackman truly is done for good as the gruff-talking, ass-kicking mutant.
Few comic book creators are more closely tied to Wolverine than Chris Claremont, who helped elevate the character to the X-Men superstar that he is today, thanks to now-legendary work such as the 1982 Wolverine limited series (with artist Frank Miller) that sent Logan to Japan, as well as his years on Uncanny X-Men from 1976-91, which saw such classic storylines as Days of Future Past and the Dark Phoenix Saga.
Heat Vision caught up Chris Claremont to gather his thoughts on Wolverine’s latest big screen adventure, the possibility of a Wolverine/Deadpool crossover film and the rumors that he originally wanted the late Bob Hoskins to play the role.
First things first, have you seen Logan?
Yes. In a way it was very much the Logan film I’ve been waiting for. It was what I’d actually hoped The Wolverine should’ve been. The thing that I found most gratifying and impressive, as both a general audience member and somebody who’s been intimately involved with the X-Men for far longer than I care to think about, is that this is the first time in pretty much nine films that I’ve actually seen Hugh and Patrick Stewart having the time onscreen, and the script, and the moments to simply speak to each other as people. Yes, there are superhero tropes running through it, but the thing that I found most gratifying is that it ultimately registered as a film about character. This dying man taking care of his best friend and mentor who is dying, and then you have to figure out, “Wait a minute, which character are we thinking of in those terms?” The relationship between Logan and Charlie is at bedrock here, and for the first time in a whole bunch of movies, both actors have a chance to actually relate as people, and to me, I found it wonderful. I was thinking, “About bloody time. Finally, those are the characters I spent 20 years writing.” I will say there is only one caveat as far as Logan goes: I got to the end and went, “OK, what happens next?” To me, as an audience member, damn. If you can get to the end of the third act of a trilogy and your reaction is “what the hell happens next,” someone did their job incredibly.
Would you say this is your favorite Wolverine film appearance?
I would put it up there with Days of Future Past only because Days is mine and John Byrne’s story. [Logan] was a totally different direction, but I finally got to see the richness of the characters that I spent my professional career shaping brought to life onscreen. What I think I like most about it is that it actually chose to take some time to develop the relationships for the audience in terms of Xavier and Logan, but also between them and X-23. It built to a very heartbreakingly satisfying conclusion.
With Jackman announcing that he is hanging up the claws as Wolverine, is there anyone that you can think of that would take his place in the role?
Well, what I keep thinking of deep down inside is, “Oh, come on. Come on. Sean Connery said he was stepping away from the role [of James Bond] and he came back. Just one more. Just one more.” In terms of me, since they’ve established X-23 as the next iteration, it would be fun to play with her as a character if you’re going to do it from a film perspective. For me, as a creator, the field is wide open to introduce a whole new generation of characters who exist in the comic universe and can now be brought to life in the film universe for the 2020s, as opposed to the 2000s.
Wolverine is a character that has been around for decades, with many different iterations, and who means many different things to many different people. What’s it like to see him evolve?
To me, it’s like falling in love with the film version of him as much as I did with the short guy from the comic books. It is very hard for me to think of Logan without thinking of Hugh Jackman and I have no idea who out there could take over from him if they moved ahead. It’s like thinking of anyone other than Harrison Ford playing Han Solo or Indiana Jones. The actor is so bound up with the character in this instance, that I don’t really want to think about it that way. Maybe in five years, or 10 years, they could come up with somebody new and it would be brilliant, but for me Hugh is Logan. As much in his own way that Patrick Stewart is Charlie. Yes, I acknowledge James McAvoy, yes I acknowledge Michael Fassbender, but to me it’s Stewart and Ian McKellan. They’re the guys. But, if you gotta go, this is the way to do it.
You’ve said that your first choice to play Logan/Wolverine was Bob Hoskins.
Well, that’s a perception of the medium in 1988. At the same time, when I was looking at the pairing of Ororo [X-Men’s Storm] and Logan, to me it seemed perfectly rational to have Angela Bassett and Bob Hoskins, because the image I had of Hoskins was from the films he made in England where they emphasized, in terms of his character, the harshness, the Cockney, the brutality of him. There was a film he did called Lassiter with Tom Selleck, and if you look at the two of them together, Tom Selleck is this 6-foot-plus powerful, handsome, glorious leading man and Hoskins is this little cop. In one scene, Selleck comes to the door of [Hoskin’s] house and Hoskins takes one look at him and hauls off and shoves Selleck back down the drive, yelling “You come to my house?” and just repeating it over and over as he shoves Selleck back down the path and through the fence out onto the street. And the expression on Selleck’s face is “Holy Shit!” and I thought, bingo. That is Logan. That instant rage. But like I said, this is the world of 1988. Cut ahead 12 years to when we’re sitting down, when [producer] Lauren Shuler Donner was putting together Wolverine and we were talking about it, and the actor who was originally chosen for the role got injured on the set of Mission: Impossible II, Dougray Scott, and she had Hugh Jackman on her list. He had just won the Olivier award for Oklahoma!, which is the totally opposite end of the spectrum, and, again, you look at him and you think, too tall, too handsome, too this, too that. And he walked out into the audition and just nailed it and they put him on a plane to Vancouver within 24 hours to start shooting X-Men. The rightness of that decision has been proved ever since.
Was there anyone you found miscast in any of the X-Men films?
Surprisingly, no. That’s the thing I found most exceptionally wonderful about the entire run of the Fox films and TV shows from the beginning. Lauren has a remarkable knack for choosing the right person for the right role. It’s always just clicked. It never would have occurred to me in Days of Future Past to cast Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, and yet as soon as he got onscreen I couldn’t think of anyone else. That, to me, is the key. It would crack me up to do a modern day X-Men just to see Kelsey Grammer for real, instead of just walking through the closing scene, as the Beast. Who’d have thought of that? But you see it and, wham, it’s so right. The same with Ellen Page. Perfect. That’s the sort of thing that makes a film click.
There’s been a lot of talk about a Deadpool/Wolverine film. Is that something you have interest in seeing?
I think it would offer up a whole lot more interesting twists and turns than with Deadpool and Colossus. I think the biggest challenge would be to discover who would be on top, because Deadpool is such a distinctive characterization and visual presentation, especially with everything that Ryan Reynolds brings to the equation. And yet, if you’re going to put Logan up against him with Hugh Jackman in the role, it would sort of be like a Sean Connery-in-his-prime, Daniel Craig team up. Who do you really want to root for? Who’s going to be boss? On the other hand, it would be fun if you use that whole circumstance to perhaps tie up some characterization leftovers from Logan. There might be some leftover relationship problems, it could be fun. Again, the challenge would be how you get them to play nice with each other and who their adversary would be.
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