It’s fascinating to think just how differently the complexion of modern superhero cinema would look if John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II hadn’t fallen behind schedule.
The genre boom that we’re still living through 20 years later can be traced right back to Bryan Singer’s X-Men, and Hugh Jackman’s stint as Wolverine is arguably one of the two most iconic marriages of actor and comic book character in history alongside Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, even if the unknown Australian only stepped into the role when Dougray Scott was forced to drop out due to his commitments to the Tom Cruise action sequel.
He may have retired the claws and mutton chops four years ago following Logan, but you can guarantee Jackman is going to be fielding Wolverine questions for the rest of his life. Fittingly, while on the promotional trail for his latest movie Reminiscence, the 52 year-old did a little reminiscing of his own when asked if there was a single moment or experience from the seventeen-year tenure as the mutant he’d love to relive or experience again.
“Yeah, I’ll tell you one of the moments I’d like to relive around Logan. It was the first time I saw X-Men in a cinema with audiences. And I did it because Tom Rothman, who was one of the execs at the time at Fox, said if you want to understand this movie, you have to go and see it with an audience in Times Square at 10 pm on a Friday night. And I was like, ‘Alright’. So I just walked in, sat up in the back, I watched the movie, and it was like, ‘Woah’.
We don’t watch movies like that in Australia. There’s no yelling and screaming and cheering, no ‘Yo Wolverine!’ and booing. That was awesome. I would love to go and relive that moment because I was super nervous, it was my first movie and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d love to go back and just really enjoy that.”
X-Men had already been shooting for two weeks by the time Jackman first showed up on set, and big budget comic book adaptations were far from a sure thing at the time, with the lingering stench of Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin still hovering in the background.
Suffice to say, it worked out pretty magnificently for all parties in the end, with X-Men rocketing Jackman’s Wolverine to international superstardom, as well as launching Fox’s biggest cash cow that would go on to earn in excess of $6 billion at the box office over the course of another twelve installments covering sequels, reboots, spinoffs and almost everything in between.