According to his comic book backstory he was born in 19th century Canada—Northern Alberta to be exact—and served in the First Canadian Parachute Battalion before being recruited by Team X, a CIA black ops group. When movie fans first encountered the character, however, little was known about him.
At the beginning of the original X-Men movie he was suffering from memory loss and couldn’t remember how he became a superhero with retractable bone claws, made of the near indestructible metal alloy adamantium bonded to his skeleton and a healing ability that allows him to quickly recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin.
This weekend The Wolverine continues the story, although star Hugh Jackman is quick to point out that it is not a sequel.
“With an all-new cast and setting it in Japan, it’s going to give us a whole new visual aesthetic,” he told Total Film.
With this film, Hugh Jackman emerges as the first actor to play a comic book hero in more than four consecutive films since Christopher Reeve as Superman.
Jackman has played the character six times now on screen—with another ensemble X-Men movie called Days of Future Past on the way for 2014—bringing with him a mixture of physicality and the character’s trademark visual look.
Firstly, Wolverine wouldn’t be Wolverine without his claws, although it took Jackman some time to get used to having giant metal extensions shooting out of his knuckles.
“I’ve got scars on one leg, punctures straight through the cheek, on my forehead,” he says. “I’m a bit clumsy. I’m lucky I didn’t tell them that when I auditioned.”
Secondly are Wolverine’s trademarked muttonchops and Elvis hair. “Weirdly, it looks okay on film and on that character. But imagine it in real life. It looks ridiculous, so ridiculous. You can wear a baseball cap with it… but really, there’s no way to style it. And then there’s the hair as well, which of course, looks ridiculous both in character and out of character.”
Finally, there’s his muscular, ripped body, the result of hours in the gym and a restricted food regimen, consisting of steamed chicken and vegetables. “It’s called the 16-8 diet. Between ten in the morning and six o’clock at night… I eat 5,000 calories. And then I eat nothing.”
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