Hugh Jackman returned as the mutant superhero Wolverine for the sixth time in "The Wolverine," which hit movie screens last week. Jackman has had more screen time with the character than most other well-known superhero portrayals; Christopher Reeve suited up four times as the Man of Steel, for instance, and other superhero actors, including Christian Bale and Tobey Maguire, have stopped at three.
But Jackman says this movie is finally getting around to exploring Wolverine's deeper character.
"Finally, in this movie, we get a chance to live with what haunts Wolverine," Jackman said at a Comic-Con International news conference promoting the film. "What it is like having that sort of immortality, being who he is. And knowing that his strengths bring destruction, pain and loneliness."
Wolverine's mutant healing factor means he can overcome nearly any injury or disease. But that comes at a price.
"Imagine being two or three hundred years old, and living with the fact everyone you know or love has passed," Jackman said.
The film is based on the comic book miniseries "Wolverine" from 1982.
That comic was the first-ever Wolverine solo comic book, which began in the Canadian Rockies before the action shifted to Japan. That's roughly the trajectory of the new film, written by Mark Bomback and Christopher McQuarrie.
The "Wolverine" miniseries paired longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont with noted artist Frank Miller for a story that looked more deeply into the man behind the claws than most that had gone before.
"The film is based on a famous comic book set in Japan," Jackman said at Comic-Con. "But as we made the film, we were constantly thinking about how this film would feel to the Japanese people. We wanted them to be proud of how we show their country and customs and culture."
The Claremont-Miller story is just part of the biggest Wolverine collection ever attempted by Marvel. The "Wolverine: Adamantium Collection," released in June, is an oversized, 720-page collection including some of the top Wolverine stories of the past several decades. The 16-pound book follows the transformation of young and sickly James Howlett into the hard-edge Wolverine.
Along with the original "Wolverine" miniseries, the book contains the entire "Origin" miniseries by Paul Jenkins and Andy Kubert.
"Wolverine is the Clint Eastwood of comic book characters, an enigmatic loner with a sin-riddled past that he's desperate to atone for, even if he won't outright admit it," said Axel Alonso, who is editor in chief of Marvel Entertainment, in a news release.
And Marvel plans another look at the Wolverine character in November, in a sequel to the best-selling "Origin."
Kieron Gillen and fan-favorite artist Adam Kubert will look at Wolverine's shadowy past in the miniseries "Origin II," featuring Wolverine returning to civilization.
"When we last saw Logan at the end of Origin, he was broken - barely straddling the line between man and animal," Gillen said. "But how did he transform himself from a wild recluse and into the groomed warrior he is today? That was always been a transformation I've wanted to explore."
Regardless of how "The Wolverine" performs at the box office, Jackman will don the claws for at least a seventh time - the X-Men sequel "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is filming. That movie is scheduled to open July 18.