While visiting the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past recently, IGN got this juicy soundbite out of one Hugh Jackman about his future as the
short and furry mutant, and his possibly being replaced; “Look, that’s inevitable, man. Anyone who thinks they’re indispensable in this business is fooling themselves. But I feel unbelievably blessed to have this part; Every day I walk on the set with the claws and the hair, I thank my lucky stars. I don’t take any of it for granted.”
Jackman is right, of course, it is inevitable that one day Wolverine will be recast. The part is bigger than he is, even if he did make the character a household name (and, yes, fanboys, he’s the one that did; no matter how popular the comics were in the eighties or the cartoon was in the nineties, your mom and dad and non-nerd siblings had no idea who Wolverine was until Hugh Jackman filled that wifebeater he wears). But at some point, he’ll get too old to play the part, especially as his character doesn’t really age. He’s lucky he’s looked more or less the same for this long.
Having said that, however, it’ll be a long while before it happens. Hugh Jackman is simply the face of this franchise, and Fox knows it. At age 45, Jackman is still in amazing shape, and can easily still play the part for the better part of the next decade. Also, playing Wolverine once every couple years allows Jackman to get his big franchise paycheck and then go and do smaller films and Broadway shows in between. It’s the perfect arrangement for him.
As to how many more times at bat there is going to be, who knows? I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Fox announces a very lucrative contract for Jackman to play the part of Wolverine for three or maybe even four more movies over the next decade, locking him in to their biggest franchise. Although X-Men: Days of Future Past is a swan song for the classic X-Men cast, expect the one exception to that rule to be Hugh Jackman. Aside from Days, Fox has an X-Force movie in development, and there have even been rumors of an X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover movie, plus talk of a third Wolverine solo movie. And Fox will want Hugh Jackman for all of them. So while a recast is indeed inevitable, I wouldn’t start worrying about it yet.