Film Review: 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a movie that's kind of been forgotten about, except that, as a kind of botched origin story for Deadpool, it was made fun of hilariously in Deadpool 2. That legacy is something of a shame because it's not actually a bad movie, and Wolverine is an interesting, emotionally sympathetic character.
Hugh Jackman was chosen to play Wolverine originally in the year 2000 with the first X-Men movie, because they wanted Mel Gibson, but decided it would be too expensive. Hugh Jackman was considerably taller than the comic book character, but audiences still liked his portrayals of the character, so much that he became firmly cemented as Wolverine in the public mind.
The movie doesn't deal with Wolverine as a child, not much anyway. It mainly follows him as a fighter in a group of nearly-invincible mercenary badass mutants, who are pretty nearly immortal. The movie opens with a montage of them fighting through different historical wars, sort of similar to the opening sequence of The Watchmen.
Logan and the gang, including Ryan Reynolds as a character named Wade who resembles Deadpool but isn't called Deadpool, and doesn't wear a superhero costume, end up on a mission that involves threatening people to intimidate someone for information about a rock from a meteorite. When the information is withheld, the team kill lots of innocent people. This prompts Logan to quit the gang and move out to an undisclosed "middle of nowhere" kind of place, where he lives in a quiet, simple life as a lumberjack with a hot girlfriend. He hides his mutant abilities, and does not want to be involved in fighting again.
I won't get into spoilers but obviously, he's roped back into the "game". He agrees to be an experimental subject, which is how his skeleton becomes bonded with adamantium. But this is an X-Men movie so, betrayal and heartache ensue. He goes on a long and dangerous quest for revenge and meets some cool characters while searching for information.
The film culminates with an exciting mutant prison-break and Wolverine being forced to fight a weird experiment called Deadpool, but he's nothing like the Deadpool you'll come to have wet dreams about in the Deadpool movies. This Deadpool would be a lot less fun at parties, being physically incapable of talking. He's a deadly foe because he was an experiment in putting several mutant powers into one person, combining them. So in addition to his regeneration, he can make a sword retract from his arm, teleport, and shoot laser beams from his eyes.
Wolverine wins the fight, breaks a bunch of captive mutants free, and beats the bad guy, but ends up losing his memories when shot in the skull by an adamantium bullet. So the movie ends on a bittersweet note. The battle was won, but Wolverine might be irrevocably damaged.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Marvel Entertainment, The Donners' Company, & Seed Productions, Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Screenplay by David Benioff & Skip Woods, Comics by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, & John Romita Sr.
Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schreiber, Danny Houston, Will.i.am
1 hour, 47 minutes
BMI Film & TV Awards: Film Music, Scream Awards: Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Reynolds
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is commonly thought of as a bad film, but when I saw it expecting that, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, the final fight scene, taking place on top of a nuclear cooling tower on 3-Mile Island was a bit cheesy. And you could say that some aspects of the plot are confusing. But this movie had a few important things going for it.
First of all, I really liked the character of Kayla, Wolverine's girlfriend. She was revealed to be a Femme Fatale. She can hypnotize people she touches, and was only getting close to Wolverine originally to spy on him when he quit the X-Team. But the film doesn't treat her like a sex object or one-dimensional evil bitch, the way that the Femme Fatale character type is often portrayed. It makes her more human and sympathetic, by revealing that she did have feelings for Logan, and also that she only went along with the bad guys' orders because they held her sister captive. We're used to the one-dimensional superhero girlfriend acting as a damsel in distress or sideline cheerleader. We're also used to the one-dimensional Femme Fatale. Showing Kayla as more than either of these stereotypes and making her feel genuine and sympathetic was one of the best things the movie got right.
Similarly, Will.I.am played a character who could have just as easily been another cliché of the "black best friend". But his character, John Wraith, was more than that stereotype.
It doesn't feel like a comic book movie, instead feeling like a movie about badass mercenaries who incidentally happen to have super powers. This usually is a good thing, it makes the movie seem more grounded in reality. But it can also work against it, because it may have been not what X-Men comic book fans wanted.
The worst thing about this movie is that, while it's a pretty cool depiction of Wolverine, and a good exploration of his relationship with his brother, Victor, it's a lousy representation of Deadpool. Wade Wilson is a fellow mercenary with Wolverine in the beginning of the film. But he is transformed into Weapon XI by the same mad scientist who experimentally bonds Wolverine's body with adamantium. Weapon XI is an experiment in giving a mutant multiple superpowers, to see the limit the human body can take. Weapon XI has his mouth surgically shut. The effect is creepy, symbolizing Wade losing his humanity, the constantly-running mouth that had made him stand out as an individual. But comic book fans who like Deadpool won't get any joy from seeing him like this. He is a forced-silent monster to battle in the climax, lacking his costume and human personality. Luckily, we got better Deadpool movies later.
The movie is uneven, a mixture of good things and bad things. Sometimes it doesn't make sense, and sometimes it seems off. Some people have said that Wolverine's origin story is not necessary as its own film. Roger Ebert's opinion was that Wolverine was too invulnerable for us to care about. I disagree, because the film leads us to care about him emotionally, more than physically, and that's more important. But despite some of its flaws, the movie is exciting, capable of sustaining interest, building emotional intensity in every scene. It also has very interesting and likeable characters. It's an entertaining movie, don't let the bad reviews scare you off.
Confused about Wolverine's name being both Logan and James? I was. Here is a pretty good explanation.
- Why is Wolverine called Logan if his name is James? | IGN Boards
How come his dog tags already had Logan on them? Do they explain this?
Rating for X-Men Origins: Wolverine: 8/10
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© 2019 Rachael Lefler