Although it’s hard to picture anyone besides Hugh Jackman as Wolverine now, back in the day, not everyone was too pleased about his casting in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the newly released book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Feige revealed how the discourse over casting Jackman as the X-Men hero taught him a lesson for picking actors for the MCU.
Jackman scored the role of Wolverine back in 2000 for Bryan Singer’s X-Men. The actor replaced Dougray Scott, who was shooting the spy movie, Mission Impossible 2 with Tom Cruise at the time. Wolverine would go on to be one of the biggest roles in Jackman’s career. However, due to his 6’2 height and looks that didn’t match the appearance of the original comic book character, there was some pushback from fans. But, despite some public discourse Jackman as Logan would go on to be impressively popular and a successful choice for the studio.
Feige recalled the controversies of casting Jackman for the part. In the book, he shared how the whole situation taught him that when casting a superhero movie, you don’t need an actor that looks exactly like the comics, but instead one who can embody the character’s essence.
“Who cares that he’s so tall?” Feige is quoted saying. “He embodies the spirit of Wolverine, and that was a big lesson that I always took from that. It doesn’t have to match the comic frame exactly. It has to match the spirit of it.”
At the end of the day, Feige’s decision to look at spirit instead of appearance seems to be the correct call. Jackman shined as Wolverine, and it is hard picturing anyone replacing him as the grumpy mutant. Feige’s casting method can also be seen in the newer titles of the MCU.
Looks, gender, and ethnicity specification have been mostly chucked out the window for the MCU’s casting, allowing it to find the best actors for its scripts and take needed steps towards more diversity in superhero films simultaneously. Ajak (Salma Hayek) and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) from the Eternals are among the new MCU characters fans can expect to see on the big screen.
Eternals is scheduled to hit theatres on November 5 in the US and UK. For more information on future MCU release dates, check out our guide to Marvel Phase 4.