In case you are wondering and don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll state right off the bat: I loved Wolverine.
We live in an age where comic book movies are looked at differently than they were before. This is a post Dark Knight world where everyone seems to think that for a science-fiction/fantasy property to be good, we have to re-do everything to be serious with dark undertones. This just isn’t true, and I believe Wolverine helps to show this. Wolverine doesn’t take a lot of time to build up large sub-plots and underlying thematic tones. What it does is tell a story that’s straight and to the point, and a lot of people believe this to be cliche. I would argue that it’s just the opposite. We’re talking about Wolverine here, who is not only one of the most over-used and over-rated characters in comic books today, but he’s also not the most deep, and Hugh Jackman does such a fantastic job portraying Wolverine in this, the 4th X-Men film property, that he pretty much makes the character his own. This is what people need to accept with this film: this is not your comic book X-Men, and this is not your Christopher Nolan Batman. This is Hugh Jackman’s interpretation of Wolverine, and considering what a fan he is of the character, I would say he does the character a great amount of justice.
Let’s look at other aspects of the film: next to Hugh Jackman is Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed, and to say he does a great job is to put it lightly. Once again we have a thematic reinterpretation of the character, and it’s such a great job that by the end you’ll be saying “Tyler who?” (that is, assuming you can remember the name of the guy who played Sabretooth in the first X-Men film). Schreiber’s Victor is a psychopathic murderer who never takes the time to explain his actions and merely revels in blood. While there is no explanation as to how the Sabretooth from this movie connects to X-Men, it’s such an enjoyable performance that it doesn’t really matter. Along with Creed, the other members of Team X are will.i.am as John Wraith in what I consider a breakout role not only for the actor (who I somehow found highly likable despite his involvement in the Black Eyed Peas) but for the character, who has always been kind of a bit character in comics, let alone Wolverine’s origin; Daniel Henney as Agent Zero, who is almost as cold as Creed; Kevin Durand as Fred Dukes (The Blob) who, as small of a role as it is, is really well done considering how two-dimensional the Blob is; Dominic Monaghan as Bolt, a character who, like John Wraith, is not very well known outside of the comic book world yet portrayed very well for such a minor role; and Ryan Reynolds as fan-favorite Wade Wilson/Deadpool, who I will discuss later. We also have Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, who fans had demanded for years (although I have no idea why), and Lynn Collins as Silverfox, rounding off the main players in this story.
Now, while not everyone mentioned was originally part of Wolverine’s origin (such as the Blob and Gambit), the way they are written in to the film does justice for the characters. I mean, let’s be honest here: Marvel and it’s film properties have never been known for being groundbreaking films. What they are known for are creating entertaining action films featuring characters we have grown to love outside of the cinema, and Wolverine delivers on that ten-fold. The final climactic battle is pretty phenomenal in the final production, albeit a little short. It’s things like that that I pay to see in super hero movies, though. A lot of people are afraid to enjoy a movie that relies on it’s action sequences over anything else it offers, and that’s too bad. Furthermore, I have no idea how people can enjoy a movie like Transformers, which provides terrible acting and horribly shot fight sequences, and they can’t enjoy Wolverine (this is in reference to the average ratings the films have received on Rottentomatoes.com). At least in Wolverine you have a cast who love the characters they portray and are honestly trying their best, as well as a director who doesn’t know how to do action movies giving it a go.Continued below
So yes, Wolverine is not the greatest written movie ever (although most of the things referenced early in the film do pay off in the end). It’s not even the greatest acted movie ever. But we as comic book fans and movie goers need to really cut these film makers some slack because not only do the have to pander to our crowd who is EXTREMELY critical and will nit pick a film down to the most minor costume change (let’s not forget that before the original X-Men came out, people hated Jackman because he was too tall), they have to make the film accessible to people who do not read comic books or know anything about the characters beforehand. Wolverine does just that, and it does that well enough to create an enjoyable action flick. Would I pay to see Wolverine again? I would. I really enjoyed myself so much more than I thought I would because, after the disaster that was the Watchmen film and the hype surrounding it, I’ve learned to accept concessions in the film making process and look at things in a deeper way. It’s hard, but it’s possible.
Beyond this point are spoilers about the Deadpool character in the film, and my explanation for why I think it was a good idea for the changes they made. If you haven’t seen the movie, I can’t honestly recommend you read beyond this point. I can’t stop you, however.
Now, you have to keep that in mind – the character at the end of the movie is Deadpool, but he also isn’t. The original script of the film had the final Big Bad as Weapon XI, and he is consistently mentioned as such. In the comics, there is no Weapon XI as of yet (although it is hinted that Daken will be Weapon XI courtesy as everyone’s least favorite manipulator Romulus), and the film took cues from Grant Morrison in establishing that Weapon X meant Weapon 10. Also keep in mind that Weapon XI is played by a DIFFERENT ACTOR, Scott Adkins. He is only Deadpool in name. This is why there were re-shoots: so Wolverine could acknowledge that Weapon XI was what used to be Wade Wilson. Early on in the film, Wade was announced as being “gone,” and in the video game version of the film, Sabretooth says that Wilson is just plain dead. Since the studio really wants to give Ryan his own film as the merc with a mouth Deadpool, they decided to make the character have a bigger role in the film with the idea that they could make a spin-off film with the character for the fans. All that was done was done for you, and all you can do is whine about it? Way to take a cake and shove it in the face of the baker.Continued below
Let’s face it – Wade Wilson was portrayed spot on, to a degree. Deadpool didn’t actually become funny and insane and so incredibly great with weapons until after he underwent the treatment. But because WE wanted it, HE was given to US. We wanted Ryan Reynolds, we wanted Deadpool, and we got it. So what if at the end of the film, they refer to Weapon XI as “the Dead Pool,” considering all the mutant powers are pooled into him to make the ultimate killing machine? Marvel took the time to give us something we wanted, and in the context of the film it worked.
There is much talk of a spin-off film in which we see the normal Deadpool portrayed by Ryan Reynolds (presumedly losing his new powers at some point), so if you really want to see that, you need to support the current film. It did really good for it’s opening weekend, so I can pretty much guarantee you we will see X-Men Origins: Wolverine II somewhere down the line. But let’s be serious and take a break for a moment: as much as we all love Deadpool, how much do you think a movie based on him would work? It absolutely wouldn’t. Deadpool’s supporting cast of characters are so wide and varied that there is no way they would be able to pull off a Deadpool movie appropriately. What are you going to do, bring back Colin Farrel as Bullseye again? Cast Cable for some odd reason? No. No one wants to see that. So while I love Deadpool, I don’t think we need a spin-off. Give Deadpool a video game or something, and let’s just be happy that someone out there listened to the fans and gave Ryan the part.
There are no more spoilers after this point.
In closing, I would just like to point out that, as critical as we are of comic book films, comic book readers standards are way too high, and I’ll be the first to admit it. There never has, and there never will be, a perfect comic book adaptation. I mean this. Even the holy Dark Knight, who everyone and their mothers adore, is not a 100% accurate adaptation of the source material. These movies don’t have to be though, and I am slowly coming to terms with that myself. Sometimes, a simple action film starring characters we’ve grown up with and loved for years will suffice, and that’s precisely what Wolverine delivers. It’s not a reboot, it’s not just another prequel – it’s a film that acknowledges it’s main character as a brutal killer and gives him a human side and plenty of explosions. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more.