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Bringing a comic character to the silver screen, especially one as iconic as X-Men’s Wolverine, is daunting at best and absolutely terrifying at worst. While the 2000 introduction to Hugh Jackman’s now indelible portrayal of this four panel badass almost didn’t have his trademark hairstyle, it was thanks to the work of a young producer that worked on the film: Kevin Feige.
In his early Marvel moviemaking career, Kevin Feige was the voice of approval for keeping the classic comic look of Wolverine’s hair, which went through some changes per the story told below:
I believe it's taken on a life of its own in recent years. The very first day that he came out on set and his hair was... not Wolverine hair. In later movies, it almost didn't matter because Hugh Jackman was Wolverine. Just the same way in the first Thor movie, we wanted Chris Hemsworth to have that long blonde hair; by Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth is Thor so cut the hair; it doesn't matter.
Initially, according to Kevin Feige’s recent interview for THR’s Awards Chatter podcast, director Bryan Singer and fellow producer Avi Arad seemed to be afraid to give Jackman’s character the full Wolverine hair, because they seemed afraid it wouldn’t be taken seriously. That sort of decision-making process also had the series straying from the original yellow and blue uniforms the X-Men wore in the comics, relegating that look to jokes and deleted scenes sprinkled throughout the franchise. In time, they discovered that as far as the hair for Hugh Jackman was going, the look they were currently running with just didn’t work.
Eventually, the three collaborators would put their heads together, and then Wolverine’s hair was restored in X-Men. Though, as Kevin Feige said later on in the remarks he made above, the importance on the character’s memorable coif wasn’t as stressed once Hugh Jackman became synonymous with his character. In other words, once the public automatically associated Jackman with Wolverine, you could pretty much do anything with his hair and people wouldn’t question it.
While the hairstyling for Wolverine didn’t change all that much in later films, it was definitely wasn’t as defined as it was in that first film. For comparison, here’s what his hairstyle looked like in X-Men: Days of Future Past:
And for a bonus comparison, here’s what Wolverine looked like in director James Mangold’s gritty finale for the character, Logan:
The future of the X-Men franchise is still a matter for future discussions, as the Disney/Fox merger now lands that franchise firmly in the hands of Kevin Feige and his Marvel Studios purview. Though there’s one thing we could probably count on when it comes to that eventual reboot: Wolverine’s hair style will return whenever he’s rewritten in the new canon.