At this point, Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine longer than any motion picture actor has continuously played any superhero character.  So far, at least as far as the big screen is concerned, Jackman is Wolverine.  Period.

He's currently hard at work shooting "The Wolverine," the sixth film in which he'll play the character, and Fox finally released an official still of him on-set in the movie, which James Mangold is directing.  I'm at Fantastic Fest in Austin this week, so of course in a setting where I'm surrounded by film geeks of all stripes, I asked around to see what people thought of the image.

Even now, this many years after he first played the character, I'm amazed how some people still get worked up about how different Jackman is from the typical renderings of the character in the comics.  He's taller, he's leaner, and honestly, he doesn't really look like him.  But Jackman's made the character his with the choices he's made, and he's absolutely willing to transform himself each time he returns to play the part, getting crazy ripped each time.

I look at this first image of him, and it really looks like the emphasis is on Wolverine as a weapon, practically carved out of bone and muscle.  This might be the most shredded Jackman's ever gotten, and he wears it well.  I haven't read the final draft of the film they're making, but the early drafts by Christopher McQuarrie were great, and Mangold seems like a pretty smart writer to me, so I'm hoping his last round of revisions with Mark Bomback just helped to hone the story even more.  There's something appropriate about his Bruce Lee-looking build here with the storyline that they're pursuing, based loosely on the work that Frank Miller and Chris Claremont did with the character in the '70s.

Here's the full-sized image that Fox released today:


Obviously at this point in the process, we're not going to get any major spoilers about the film, but at least we can see how the training and preparation has paid off for Jackman, who looks ready to do some serious damage.

"The Wolverine" is set to slash its way into theaters July 26, 2013.