Wolverine Penciled by John Byrne, Inked by Terry Austin, Colored by Glynis Wein, Lettered by Tom Orezchowski

Moreover, Superman and Batman succeeded in part because they didn’t treat the comic book lore as seriously as fans did. As wonderful as Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder are as Superman and Lois Lane, the real draw to Superman was its big budget special effects the involvement of Marlon Brando, and Gene Hackman, the latter of whom felt like he was in a different (comedy) movie opposite Ned Beatty and Valerie Perrine. Batman drew attention because it had Jack Nicholson and Tim Burton and a distinct aesthetic separate from the 1960s show. The weird jokes (i.e., cutaway gag to guy with ice cream cone during Zod’s attack in Superman II) and disregard for basic character traits (Batman kills a whole bunch of people) made superheroes palatable to a wider audience.

So when Jackman appears onscreen with a scowl and a stogie, his hair fashioned into the unlikely coif designed by Dave Cockrum, comic book fans couldn’t help but cheer. And when the movie stops to give us an insert shot of Wolverine’s claws actually breaking the skin when they pop, our minds were blown. It felt like the people making the movie cared about Wolverine, that they got him.

So happy were we that we really didn’t care that Hugh Jackman looked nothing like Wolverine. Chris Claremont and his various artistic collaborators established Wolvie as a runt, a short and unattractive man whose bestial nature regularly drove him into berserker rages, even against his friends. An extremely talented actor, Jackman can furrow his brow and show signs of nobility against the beast howling inside of him. But he can’t change the fact that he’s tall, handsome, and mostly hairless.

To be clear, this is not a complaint. X-Men served as a crucial link between late ’90s action movies like The Matrix and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which gave us not one, but two super-characters in brightly colored costumes. And a lot of that success came from Jackman’s soulful performance, who, along with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, reminded viewers that rich drama can be wrung from four-color characters.

But that was over two decades ago. We’re not in that place anymore, not when even your grandma knows who Groot is, not when Z-listers Mr. Immortal and Porcupine show up on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. With public perception shifting, there’s no need for Wolverine to be a certainly conflicted, but largely standard-issue good-hearted leading man. Viewers are ready for a feral scuzzball in bright yellow spandex.

Up until Reynolds’ announcement on social media, that’s exactly what we expected. Not long ago, shortsighted comic book fans were actively cheering for Disney to swallow up more of the pop culture landscape by buying 20th Century Fox precisely because the MCU could tap into the richness of the X-Men comics in a way that Fox had not.

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