X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2009
I continue on my trek through the X-Men movies in a possibly unorthodox manner moving on to what I believe would actually be the next chronological movie. Even though it starts well before First Class, the main portion of the movie takes place sometime before the X-Men trilogy but after First Class, the intention was probably to have it be around 1979 due to the finale being set in Three Mile Island, though it’s fairly vague in its time period, without any obvious 80’s or 90’s fashions. I have had it on bluray for a while now, though I haven’t watched it since I bought it over a couple years ago. I think this is generally the least liked X-Men film alongside the Last Stand. And while I could see a few general annoyances, I still enjoyed the movie a lot.
I’ll start off with one of the biggest problems this movie has to most X-Men fans, and that is the fact that this movie makes a large amount of changes to characters and their backstories. One of the biggest is making Sabretooth and Wolverine brothers, taking portions of the comic series Origin and changing it for the film’s purposes. They have been long time rivals and different sides of the same coin, but never actually related. The other one was is the massive changes to popular character Deadpool. He starts out great, but when he becomes Weapon XI they give him too many powers and seal his mouth off for no apparent reason, completely disregarding one of the things the character is known for. Now, I did say that these are both problems for most X-Men fans, personally they didn’t bother me a whole lot. It would have been nice if they had kept things the same, but I don’t begrudge their decision out of spite.
One of the most unique things that this movie does that almost no other superhero movie does is that it never shows a single hero in a costume. Not only that, but it rarely identifies anyone by a code name. Only Wolverine, Agent Zero, and Gambit are specifically called out by names other than their given ones, and even then, they’re used sparingly. It’s refreshing to avoid having the scene where the costume is revealed. It really helps sell the fact that it’s a world where one in a hundred people could be a mutant, they’re just another part of society, albeit a fairly well-hidden one. It doesn’t make them feel any less super either, all the characters are still easily identifiable by their looks and powers, I never for one minute missed the presence of a costume.
Similar to First Class, Wolverine brings together a couple well known mutants and many lesser known ones. I thought it did a nice job of setting up the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth in the beginning montage across the country’s wars, though I think it never fully sold Wolverine’s increasing distaste for violence, nor did I think having that character trait was necessary. I thought Stryker’s team had a a good mix of character personalities, even though most of their powers weren’t that impressive as far as mutants go. Both Agent Zero and Wade just seem like extraordinary soldiers, and I’m never really sure what Dukes’ power is. I did enjoy Will.i.am’s character even though I forget his name as what felt like a less monstrous, cowboy version of Nightcrawler. Gambit was another interesting choice, he is one of the more popular members of the X-Men that had yet to make it into any of the movies. He got my vote and came in a strong second place in my recent poll for favorite X-Men, and I thought he was played fairly well by recent box-office bomber Taylor Kitsch, even though he was never really given anything impressive to do besides being the butt of a couple jokes, and saving Wolverine near the end.
The plot of the movie really went all over the place, and not always to good places. I didn’t have too many problems with the main thread of the story. Essentially Stryker is manipulating all sorts of people to round up mutants with specific powers, though of course that’s not entirely revealed until closer to the end. Wolverine gets caught up in the whole mess and does his share of both unwittingly playing his part in the scheme and throwing a giant wrench into it. And throughout it all, he is given several chances to connect with people on a more personal level. He is shown kindness and love and yet it always ends in disaster. While I really liked the scenes where Wolverine is in complete non-action mode, they are really some of the best parts showing off his humanity, I unfortunately never did care for the over the top destruction of those moments. They always managed to cause him to give a giant scream of rage and become a big action sequence.
All of the fight scenes were very well done and well choreographed. The only thing I wasn’t entirely sold on was that I never really thought it looked right whenever Sabretooth would leap around like a beast. It looked too much like CGI and/or wirework and just plain not natural enough looking. And next to Robert Downey Jr., there hasn’t been another actor that’s been so perfectly cast in a superhero role as Hugh Jackman. For all the little things this movie gets wrong, for my money, Hugh Jackman makes them right. I think the only thing I would have preferred him to do a little differently would be to tone down the screaming. So unless you’re a fan of strict comic book continuity, I think you’ll generally enjoy this movie. Next up I’ll be watching the original X-Men trilogy that really kicked off this entire superhero movie craze. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.