The legacy of the original series of X-Men films is very complicated. They were released even before Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and the current boom of superhero success can quite easily be tracked back to them. Even some of the stars, like Patrick Stewart, are still reprising their roles in new films. But hovering over all that is director Bryan Singer, who in recent years has been accused by multiple men of sexual misconduct. Singer has denied these claims.
Arguably the biggest legacy, though, is Hugh Jackman. Singer cast the then-unknown actor as the most important and popular character, Wolverine, and he not only became an instant star, he stuck with the role for decades. He’s even going to reprise it in 2024's Deadpool 3. Now though, Jackman has addressed one aspect of the Singer controversy, and while the statements aren’t particularly good, that he addressed them at all, and with such consideration, is commendable.
Speaking to The Guardian about his recent movie, The Son, Jackman was asked if he witnessed any of Singer’s toxic on-set behavior. Here’s how he responded, with the Guardian’s notations of delivery: “‘This was my first movie in America, you gotta understand; it was all so new to me,’ the actor claimed. ‘I think it’s fair to say that …’ He pauses. ‘There are some stories, you know … I think there are some ways of being on set that would not happen now. And I think that things have changed for the better.’” He then added “There’s way less tolerance for disrespectful, marginalizing, bullying, any oppressive behavior. There’s zero tolerance for it now and people will speak out, and I think that’s great.”
Jackman here seems to be saying that “Year 2000 Hugh Jackman,” an actor who had barely been in anything, didn’t know exactly how or if he should address these “stories.” Which obviously isn’t a great excuse, but it does make sense. “Year 2023 Hugh Jackman” has considerably more pull, clout, and experience. It also speaks to the power dynamic that’s weaved through all of the Singer accusations—that he’d used his influence to manipulate those around him.
Stepping back a bit, Jackman did have positives to say about the films and experience beyond the director. When asked if any of the allegations against Singer have tainted their legacy, he responded as follows. “You know, that’s a really, really complicated question,” Jackman said. “There’s a lot of things at stake there. X-Men was the turning point, I believe, in terms of comic-book movies and I think there’s a lot to be proud of. And there’s certainly questions to be asked and I think they should be asked. But I guess I don’t know how to elegantly answer that. I think it’s complex and ultimately I look back with pride at what we’ve achieved and what momentum that started.”
Jackman will reprise his role as Wolverine in Deadpool 3, which is set for release November 8, 2024.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.