X-Men Origins: Wolverine

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Looking through the titles of the movies I've "reviewed," it's fairly easy to see that I like super-hero movies.  At that point in life when I realized that my comic book collection may be valuable, I found out that had I inserted them into airtight bags immediately after purchase, they would indeed have been worth something.  Pity the comic book with a yellowed page or dog-eared cover!  The comic book shop employee who "appraised" my collection for value (~$200) made me feel like I had despoiled precious artifacts entrusted to my care.  Well, forgive me for reading them, again and again and again.

So, I sold them to a kid who barely managed to scrape together $50, with the help of his brother.  The kid loved the stories, and I have no regrets.

I read (past tense) X-Men regularly, and the few comic books that were worth something were the first number of issues when the characters making up the X-Men team changed from "old" to "new," at which point Wolverine and others were introduced.  I never really cared for them, and I sold those first few introductory issues while in college, which paid for Polk Audio speakers that I continue to enjoy today.

That aside, the X-Men movies have been okay - nice action flicks with some good moments, but from the start, they focused attention on Wolverine, at the expense of the very formidable Cyclops, who was a mainstay throughout the X-Men series.  Why?  In the years since my reading comics, Wolverine has somehow risen to the "most popular super-hero" ranks, ahead of Spiderman, Superman, Batman and lesser heroes no less deserving of wider popularity.

My problem with Wolverine is that I didn't like him.  Aside from the origins story detailed in the new movie, his comic origin was one of a number of anti-establishment characters followingx-men-origins-wolverine the Vietnam War.  Well and good, but he was shaped at the opposite end of the spectrum, self-absorbed and angry.  

So, here we are at a movie dedicated to Wolverine, and I still don't like him.  Hugh Jackman, who plays the lead, continues to give the character his best shot.   The problem is that Wolverine is not a "good" enough hero to be considered virtuous, not comic enough to get away with it (ala Iron Man), and not bad enough to, as a friend put it, put the "bad" in "bad-ass" (which is the case in the comics).  

The only moral question in the movie lies within the subplot tension between Wolverine and his evil brother, which is left unresolved as neither avoidance nor confrontation concludes a movie-long conflict.  Wolverine is portrayed as a person who fights... why?  Because he can.  Mutations for claws and invincibility allow for that.  But what makes him the angry, caustic fighter that he is?  The only motivation we're given in the movie is the same that made Spiderman 3 so unsettling - a self-absorbed focus on vengeance.  But for Wolverine, it's not a departure from who he is; it's just his way.

For me, it was the other characters who made the movie more enjoyable - bad guy William Stryker,wolverine-gambit the space hopping Wraith, the Blob, and particularly  Gambit, a powerhouse card player, amongst other talents, who probably would have a more interesting lead subject.

It's not a bad movie by any means.  I was entertained, but it doesn't rank near the Spiderman series, Iron Man, or the latest Batman.  Neither does it lie with Catwoman, Elektra, or the dreck known as Daredevil (a character worthy of a remake with a plot and a capable lead actor). 

There's some solid action sequences here.  Hugh Jackman leaping from an explosion to catch an helicopter is far more believable than Tom Cruise in MI.  I mean really...Tom Cruise as an action hero?  Sometimes, the action series is good, even if non-sensible.  For example, why would moving to the top of a cooling tower seem a better place to have a fight than on the ground?  (Answer: it's an action movie).  There's often some good special effects (and occasionally, some bad ones), and the the throttle never lets up enough to beg the question "is this going to end soon?"  It's good, mindless entertainment.  When it's released on DVD/Blu-ray, it will probably be one of those movies that finds popularity on Netflix, but only die-hard fans would want to own it.

2 comments :

  1. As someone who only remembers the X-men as cartoons on Saturdays mornings and never read the comics, I actually really like Wolverine and I never liked Cyclops. I thought he was a self-pretentious jerk. But then again, I really think Hugh Jackman is hot, hot, hot and love his bad boy attitude and tomented history as Wolverine. (It's probably a girl thing!)

    I was disappointed we didn't get more than a hint at Gambit. He was one of my favorites on the cartoon. His abilities to turn playing cards into explosives, his doomed relationship with Rogue, and the accent (yeah, yeah, yeah girl thing again) made him one of my favorites to watch. I can only hope that we will be seeing more of him in up coming movies. As I do own the first 3 X-men movies, I will definitely be purchasing the movie to add to my collection.

    Perhaps, as you have the comic book history, you can confirm a theory myself and others have. Is Sabertooth from the first trilogy Wolverine's brother? It would make sense.

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