X-Men: Days of Future Past- the latest in the long running series- will soon arrive in cinemas. Despite a couple of missteps, on the whole it has been a successful run for the comic book franchise- but it’s hard not to feel that an era is coming to an end. Hugh Jackman is without doubt the X-Men’s leading man; the Australian native has managed to rise above the negativity surrounding his height, good looks and musical background to become forever associated with Marvel’s most popular mutant.
Sadly however Hugh does not share the practically unaging nature of his character; though most of us would probably like to see him carry on, there will come a time when he must hang up the claws for good. So Fox have a big decision on their hands, they know that after one more Wolverine film and possibly another X-Men, they will have to replace their biggest and most bankable actor and character.
Talk of how they will do so has already begun; we have already seen one successful film without Jackman in a leading role and an actress from that movie is now one of the most high profile faces on the planet. Jennifer Lawrence joined the cast of X-Men First Class as a relative unknown, but thanks to The Huger Games and an Oscar win she is arguably the X-Men’s second biggest star. This has led some to ask if Mystique- Lawrence’s character- will take the place of Wolverine when Hugh Jackman finally departs.
We have yet to see a successful female led comic book movie and Jennifer Lawrence certainly has the star quality to pull the feat off- but is Mystique the right character to lead the X-Men franchise? Mystique as played by Rebecca Romijn was one of the most interesting elements of the original trilogy; her interactions with Wolverine in the first two films highlighted her eccentricities. Despite being an undoubtedly cool character, Mystique simply isn’t one you build a franchise around, it would be like Snake Eyes leading a G.I. Joe movie.
So if not Jennifer Lawrence, what will Fox do? Another train of thought is that the recent casting of Channing Tatum as Gambit, is a sign that he is being lined up as the long term replacement. This makes a little more sense as Gambit is a popular and heroic character, and Tatum’s recent turns in Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street has brought him a lot of good will. Perhaps Tatum is the way to go, he has the hype around him and will probably make more out of the role than Taylor Kitsch in the ill-fated Origins Wolverine.
The X-Men have the largest roster of any Marvel title, it has a vast range of characters that Fox can choose from, but will the film franchise really thrive without Wolverine in the long-term? Sooner or later we will probably get a new Wolverine.