How Hugh Jackman's Wife Almost Changed Wolverine Forever

It's wild to remember a time when making a superhero movie wasn't a safe bet. It's perhaps even more wild to think back to a time when certain comic fans were upset about Hugh Jackman's casting as Wolverine because the then-unknown Australian actor was too tall. It's true that the Wolverine of Marvel Comics isn't nearly as tall or as handsome as Jackman, but why shouldn't Wolvie get the Hollywood treatment?

These days it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role Jackman so fully embodied for nearly two decades. In fact, the recent news of his return to the part in the upcoming "Deadpool 3" caused quite a stir. While some fans were over the moon, others were nervous that reprising the role would cheapen Wolverine's swan song in 2017's "Logan."

Bringing Marvel's Marvelous Mutants to the big screen took decades. There were quite a few twists (Bob Hoskins) and turns (Glenn Danzig) in casting Wolverine before the movie finally came together to be helmed by Bryan Singer. Jackman wasn't even initially cast as Wolvie, but famously replaced Dougray Scott after filming had already begun.

Interestingly, comic fans weren't the only ones nervous about Jackman playing Wolverine back then. The actor's wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, also thought it was a bad idea. Why didn't she want Jackman taking on the role?

'This is ridiculous'

In a 2014 interview, Jackman told Vulture that he was only given three pages of the "X-Men" script to look at and based on that excerpt, his wife thought he should pass on the part. Jackman described the pages, saying:

"'Wolverine senses danger. His nostrils flare. And snikt!' — S-N-I-K-T! Which I didn't know was from the comic books! I was like, 'Snikt?' I wasn't sure it was spelled right! I was like, 'I don't know what this word is!' And then 'Claws come out of his hands.' My wife was reading it with me, and she goes, 'You got claws coming out of your hands? This is ridiculous.' And I was like, 'Babe! It's Bryan Singer! And Ian McKellen!' It's the only time in 18 years of marriage that she's ever been wrong! [Laughs.] Or that she'll admit to."

The film landscape was drastically different in 2000 and comics hadn't garnered much respect in terms of movie adaptions. The Richard Donner Superman movies and Tim Burton's Batman films were successful critically and commercially, but the franchises had been undone as the quality for both waned significantly with subsequent releases. 

As for Marvel Comics, it had made few attempts and only finally found some success previously adapting a character with "Blade" — way more important than it's given credit for being — in 1998. There was the odd indie comic hit as well, like "The Crow" or "The Mask," but comic adaptations were still considered a very risky proposition.


Fans may relish seeing Wolverine brandish his trademark adamantium appendages, but it makes perfect sense that Furness found the idea of a man with claws bursting out of his hands to be a little ridiculous, especially at that time. Thankfully, Jackman was able to look beyond the film's comic book trappings and consider the talent involved — though Singer is no longer a name most people want to be associated with.  

The X-Men didn't even appear in comic-accurate costumes in 2000, because the thought was that audiences weren't ready for such a thing. In fact, Wolvie's yellow spandex was relegated to a punchline in the film. Of course, comic book movies no longer need to be explained or disguised as they have completely dominated cinema. In fact, you could certainly argue that the more difficult sell these days is making a movie that isn't adapting superhero comics.

"X-Men" not only completely altered the lives of Furness and her husband, but also helped to usher in a new era of superhero films. No couple sees eye to eye on everything, and I'm sure we're all grateful that the actor disagreed with his wife on this particular issue. Suspension of disbelief is pretty important where superhero movies are concerned, but I bought Jackman as Wolverine from his very first scene. Fox's X-Men franchise has some soaring highs that are matched by its crushing lows, but the actor was consistently excellent. Whoever winds up wielding Wolverine's claws in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to have a hard time escaping Jackman's shadow.