Nine movies in 17 years.
When Hugh Jackman took on the iconic role of Wolverine in 2000's X-Men, he was a virtual unknown. More importantly, he was not Russell Crowe, the more popular choice for the role.
Despite all that, Jackman not only succeeded wildly in that film, he redefined Marvel Comics' most popular character at the time from a 5'3" feral runt into a sex symbol. For the most part, this is something everyone involved was fine with, and for the franchise, making Wolverine the centerpiece of all things X-Men mostly worked.
But as with all things, time and tide and age get in the way, and no longer is Wolverine, nor the X-Men for that matter, all that popular anymore.
These winds of overall change makes the decision of Jackman (and director James Mangold) to make Logan, his final film as the iconic character, into a clear end of not only his time as Wolverine, but an end for Wolverine as well.
The trailer itself is haunting as all hell, and makes something almost crystal clear: Wolverine is going to die. Probably. Likely. Maybe.
What Jackman and Mangold are doing here is not your standard superhero fare. This is an epilogue to a long, strange journey of a character that at this point, deserves the rest. For all the good films and the bad films, Jackman indelibly made his mark on Wolverine in a way that would make recasting pretty tough to pull off.
It's an interesting thought that these days, after multiple Batmen and Spider-Men, somehow it makes perfect sense that Wolverine can't be recast in the same way. It's also a testament to just how much audiences loved what Jackman brought to the role in a way that somehow transcends Sean Connery as James Bond or Christian Bale as Batman.
You could replace them, but you can't replace Jackman.
Sure, he could be replaced, but the fact is that of the entire X-Men film franchise, no one character, no one actor is as tied to or revered as Jackman. One could argue that he IS the heart of the X-Men, and to finally transition away from him means it's time to also retire Wolverine.
This is a good thing.
If we're being frank here, this first look at Logan, featuring a battled scarred and clearly tired Wolverine, caring for an elderly and frail Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) feels like an endcap for the entire X-Men franchise, and in many ways, it should be.
Blame it on Ike Perleman's crazy (and largely unconfirmed) edict that all non-Marvel Studios properties be de-emphasized in the comics, or blame it on general Mutant fatigue, but the time of Wolverine had to come to an end.
This was first evidenced in the well-recieved 2008 mini-series "Old Man Logan" (which Logan seems to take its inspiration from) depicting a much-older (hence the title) Wolverine from an alternate timeline who walked a path of pacifism in the wake of murdering the rest of the X-Men years prior. This version of Wolverine was a hollowed-out shell of a man wracked with guilt over being "the best there is at what he does", holding up a mirror to a character whose savage tendency towards violence was a selling point in the 80's and 90's.
Ironically enough, Marvel's newest "most popular character", Deadpool, is every bit as violent and sadistic as Wolverine, but with an approach more self-aware and tongue-in-cheek than the guy with the metal claws, it's easy not to hold it against him for basically being practically the same character in terms of powers.
The theme of winding down Wolverine came full-circle with the release of "The Death of Wolverine" in 2014. Now most superhero deaths, as we know, are often reversed, but two years after the final panel of the series showing Wolverine, drained of his healing factor, encased in a tomb of molten adamantium (the same stuff that made his bones famously unbreakable), he's stayed dead.
Of course, Marvel found a way to keep the idea of Wolverine alive in a number of ways, first by reforming his archnemesis Sabretooth into a good guy and placing him with the X-Men, making his clone X-23 wear a version of the famous costume, dubbing her the "All-New Wolverine" and finally bringing back a version of Logan (the alternate universe Old Man Logan) who is faced with living in a world where he never killed the X-Men, but also not being the man who is still dead.
This year's X-Men: Apocalypse was an atrocious film, and while it only featured a few moments of a shoehorned-in Wolverine from his savage Weapon X days, it offered nothing new for the characters, and if anything, laid a solid argument that the next X-film should be a complete reboot of characters, featuring newer Mutants post-Xavier era.
Logan looks like a grand, sobering, and heart-rending opportunity to finally let go of a character we've held on to maybe too long.
As we move into the time of Deadpool, and a lighter vision for all things Mutant, saying goodbye to Wolverine, as he says goodbye to us, is both fitting and has the potential to offer up the best X-Men film to date.