Is playing Wolverine.
No seriously. It is. It’s his life’s work. And you know what? He’s really, really good at it.
Jackman has been, even through the awfulness of X-Men 3 and the unspeakable horror of Wolverine: Origins, the perfect Wolverine. But the material was definitely going sideways on him. X3 sucked, Origins blew chunks, and if it weren’t the stellar cameo bit in X-Men: First Class (can we please simplify the titles in this franchise?), I would have started thinking the people at Fox lost their grip on the character. But Jackman never gave up on the idea of getting Wolverine back on track. Even when he announced the intention of making another stand-alone Wolverine movie and everyone was like, “Eh, maybe not dude, that last one sh*t the bed”, he persisted and it turns out, he was right.
The first domestic trailer for The Wolverine (good title) has arrived and it doesn’t look horrible. It actually looks pretty good. It’s going to have a hard time topping Man of Steel (which is going to surprise people with how well it turned out) and Iron Man 3 (already my favorite movie of the year and a guaranteed monster hit), but it looks like Jackman and director James Mangold cracked the code on a standalone Wolverine story.
The Japanese/Samurai aesthetic is stylish and God, there are few things better looking than Hugh Jackman in a fight scene. You could use one fixed camera and no cutaways and Jackman would still find ways to make it visually dynamic. I think it’s the dance training from his musical theater past—he’s an athlete, sure, but he also knows how to move. One complaint about the Marvel franchises is that none of their superheroes are all that interesting to watch fight. Even the Black Widow—who benefits from the work of one of the best stuntwomen in the business, Heidi Moneymaker—is only good for short bursts of action. But Jackman? That guy can do the longest fight scenes you’ll ever see and it always looks amazing. He. Does. Not. Stop.
So what’s The Wolverine about? In non-geek terms, Wolverine is tired of being 1) indestructible and 2) ageless. So a Japanese dude offers him the chance to not be those things, which is an “I immediately regret this decision” moment if ever there was one. Nerds are melting down because the trailer shows a glimpse of Jean Grey, Wolverine’s star-crossed crush, but I don’t get why this counts as a spoiler. For one, there’s no context, so it could mean anything, and two, his frustrated love of Jean has been a major component of the Wolverine arc through all the X-Men movies—of course it would come up eventually.
After the professional high having scored his first Oscar nomination for Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman is looking to restore Wolverine to his former glory.