Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

After years of hemming, hawing, scratching and clawing (don't forget the har har-ing), Marvel finally decided to make a film around one of its most beloved characters. Wolverine has been the scrappy Canadian with the checkered past for countless years now, operating in relative obscurity in the mainstream when compared to Spider-Man, Batman and Superman. Gavin Hood's (or should I say Hugh Jackman's) X-Men Origins: Wolverine has officially hit theaters, and it's solid, but not spectacular. Majors spoilers ahead, so read on at your own risk. As far as origin stories go, this one was alright. The writers and Gavin Hood realized that there was a perfectly good origin story to base the movie on, so why change that. Sure, there were slight differences in the written origin and the movie origin, but the idea was still there. So that's good. From the base origin, we're treated to a pretty awesome montage showing Logan and Victor (admitted to be his brother) fighting alongside one another in every war from the Civil War to the two World Wars to the Vietnam War. The montage is especially telling because it shows the two of them growing further apart as brothers. Victor is showing more of sociopathic nature, while Logan is showing more of his compassionate nature. From here, the two of them are recruited by William Stryker for the Weapon X program, however it's not the incarnation that you first think of. This group of mutants are essentially set on getting adamantium from sources around the world for an endgame that only Stryker is aware of at first. Logan doesn't like the direction of the group and leaves, eventually followed by everyone except for Victor, Zero and Stryker. This shows his tendency to just up and leave, and it was quite cute when he left this group the remaining members formed an X. Fast forward six years. Logan is living his peaceful life in the Canadian mountains, axe in hand and cigar in mouth. Stryker warns him that the mutants in his team are being picked off one by one, however he doesn't let on that it's Sabretooth hunting them. Minor note, but they never refer to Victor as Sabretooth in the film. They make a big deal about naming Logan Wolverine (and rightfully so I suppose), but there is not point to identify Victor with Sabretooth. So you have an origins story, and Wolverine's main nemesis is Sabretooth. His problem as a character is that he's a straight brawler with little capacity for sound and reasoned methods. When the two of them get together, it's literally a brawl. And this is on display countless times during the film. I liked this. Hood did an excellent job capturing the rivalry between the two bitter enemies. All that being said, you need an antagonist to carry Logan through the movie. Cue Deadpool, a la Stryker. Deadpool was portrayed masterfully by Ryan Reynolds. Let me rephrase that. For the five minutes you actually see him, he's awesome (more on that in a second). After the first assault by Stryker's new team, that's all you hear of him. Other than that, Victor makes a passing mention that he's been killed. Stryker decides for some reason that Deadpool is Weapon XI, the true rival to Wolverine. Wolverine was essential to Stryker because he proved that the adamantium-bonding process can be survived, as long as the experimentee had the requisite healing ability to withstand the pain (and eventual death). Deadpool has some semblance of the healing ability, making him the likely candidate for Styker's master plan. A plan that got plain ridiculous. See, Deadpool in this film didn't just have his regenerative healing ability. Stryker was collecting mutants to extract their powers to imbue Deadpool with. This includes Cyclops, White Queen, Quicksilver and Toad among others. So the end fight features Deadpool with all these abilities and a single, katana-like blade that protracts from his knuckles, similar to Wolverine. Adamantium no less. And somehow Stryker has programmed Deadpool to control him with basic terminal commands such as "engage" and "decapitate." Deadpool has had all of these abilities at some point in his illustrious mutant career, but not all at once. If I were a hardcore Deadpool fan I would be livid with this portrayal of the Merc with the Mouth. Even as a fan of comics in general I felt that this was pretty atrocious. Wolverine is getting it handed to him until Sabretooth inexplicably comes to help. I understand a mutual respect thing here, but Wolverine was so close to completely decapitating Sabretooth five minutes earlier. Sabretooth decides that his brother's love is more important than watching him die, helping him to defeat Deadpool. Which is done by decapitating him and sending the head and body plummeting down into the smoke stack they were fighting atop of. For the most part, the movie was not awful. The source material was clearly kept intact (for the most part), and there wasn't any excessive perversions of anything (with the exception of Deadpool). Gambit and Blob were well played and Gambit almost stole the show based on screen time (just didn't see enough of him). He was pretty badass with the cards and his fighting staff, although I don't remember him having the agility of Spider-Man. Blob was smaller at first, and then got much bigger. This they explained as being because he just ate too much, rather than him using his innate power to enlarge his body. Including these two mutants seemed almost as a test run to see if people would really care to see them in their own films, but I'm not complaining because I thought they were well placed. I think the movie could've been a lot better, but as it was it wasn't awful by any means. I've definitely seen worse comic book films. The trademark Wolverine pieces were there, including the "snkkt," "bub," cigar and lumberjack garb. Stryker could be considered his true arch-nemesis, because he is the reason that Wolverine became who he was and lost his memory. Speaking of that, shooting Wolverine with an adamantium bullet to the brain isn't really a plausible way to wipe his memory. Sorry guys, but you should have come up with something a little more realistic. Despite that, the origin was really his origin, with the plot being moved by Wolverine's quest to discover answers. Another problem is Hugh Jackman. As good as he is as Wolverine, he did so much press for this film that you kind of lose Wolverine in him. In the X-Men series, it really felt like Wolverine was playing Wolverine. Here, it feels sort of like it's Jackman playing Wolverine. That may sound weird, but it makes sense. Jackman kind of became bigger than the character, which sort of hindered the suspended disbelief of the movie. Sure he showed the rage well, but this Wolverine just sort of felt different than the other Wolverines that we've read or seen on screen. I also have to comment on the rumored multiple endings. Supposedly, there are two endings. Both follow Stryker walking because he was coaxed into doing so because of the temptress, and military police apprehend him for killing the general. After that, the first possible ending is Wolverine at a bar drinking. He then says in Japanese that he's trying to remember, no doubt a nod to the inevitable sequel that will most likely focus on his time in Japan. This isn't the ending I got, so I'm just going on what I've heard from others. The ending I got was the Deadpool one. After the credits, the camera pans down to Deadpool's hand reaching for his head, at which point the head says "shh." I first saw this ending and tried to figure out how he could get air through his mouth to say that, but that's neither her nor there. Speculation is that Weapon XI wasn't really Deadpool modified but a clone. Which would be awesome if that were the case. See, if they're trying to make a Deadpool spinoff then you can't have the character having all those powers, and the easiest way to write them out is to simply make what Wolverine and Sabretooth fought a clone of Deadpool. I really hope that's what they're going for, because it's pretty ridiculous that they would give him all those powers and expect to make a movie featuring him. Marvel is all about continuity these days. The movie will do exceptionally well in theaters, I have no doubt of that. Not as good as Iron Man, but at the very least Marvel will green light some of their other heroes for film. I'm not really sure much more could've been done that would have really made this movie that much better. Sure, they could have not made Deadpool this sort of super-mutant with his mouth sewn shut (his words were one of the best parts of the character). And the adamantium bullet thing could have been rewritten. In fact, the entire last 20-30 minutes would probably have served the film better if they were so outlandish. But as it stands, the film was a decent and respectable take on the Canuck. I'd say a sequel really hinges on the financial success of the movie, so stay tuned. Overall score: 70 out of 100


  1. I wonder if Hugh (Huge) Jackman will be able to be anything but Wolverine now that so much of his career has been consumed by this role

  2. I've thought that myself personally. I think he will most definitely be considered as Wolverine first from here on out. This is his fourth film as Wolverine, with the supposed fifth in Japan at some point down the line.


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