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Hugh Jackman hangs up his claws, wows fans at ‘Logan’ premiere

Australian actor Hugh Jackman takes selfies with Taipei fans for the Twentieth Century Fox release of "Logan." Philstar.com/Scott Garceau  

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Hugh Jackman took to the red carpet outside Taipei’s 101 Tower where he wowed over a thousand Wolverine fans with a carpet walk that included hundreds of selfies, signed posters and fan art. It will probably be his last red carpet walk for a character he’s played in nine X-Men features, the latest one, "Logan," released in Manila on Wednesday. Jackman is hanging up his claws, but he was very happy to walk the talk the other night with Taipei fans (and Asian media, including Manila) for the Twentieth Century Fox release.

Jackman was supposed to be joined by co-star Sir Patrick Stewart, who was available for press sessions earlier in the day, but was feeling under the weather and couldn’t attend. Pity, because his name drew rousing applause from the crowds along the red carpet (even more than Jackman’s did). It turns out Jackman was last here for the first X-Men release almost 17 years ago, and promised he’d bring Stewart with him “next time” he came.

Still, the crowd got extra-pumped as Jackman took his time chatting with fans, taking selfies and tossing signed souvenirs into the crowd, showing why this Australian actor is so beloved, and why his iteration of the character Wolverine will be so missed.

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He received hand-painted cinema art by local artist Zhen-fa Yan featuring his X-Men character, and a pair of traditional puppets — Professor X and Wolverine, adorned in native costume — were presented to the actors the following day at a second presscon in Mandarin Oriental Taipei.

Manila fans will likely flock to the final Wolverine installment featuring Jackman starting on Wednesday. "Logan," directed by James Mangold, is — no exaggeration — thoroughly excellent, bringing not only our hero with the Adamantium claws into the real world of adult choices and consequences, but possibly raising the whole Marvel Universe game along with it.

As trailers reveal, it’s the future — 2029 to be exact — and mutants are practically extinct. Logan (Jackman) is looking after ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) south of the US border while moonlighting as a limo driver — anesthetizing himself with booze and licking his no-longer-healing wounds.

Along into the X-Men universe comes a new character, 12-year-old Laura (played by badass Spanish newcomer Dafne Keen) who’s otherwise known as X-23 — named after the laboratory experiment she and other children were part of in Mexico. Some bad hombres are hunting her, paramilitary types like Boyd Holbrook and cold-blooded scientist Richard E. Grant; it’s up to Logan to protect her, but he’s having enough trouble protecting himself from the ravages of age and time. 

This is a new, gritty phase for Marvel action heroes, after the big success of "Deadpool" last year. “It earns its R-rating,” says director Mangold. Wolverine cusses plenty, and heads roll left and right. But at heart, it’s a three-hander featuring Jackman, Stewart and Keen, and it’s likely to rip your heart out — and not just in the typically violent Wolverine way.

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