X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Fox’s first attempt at giving us origin movies for the most popular “X-Men” characters. Well, I say “first,” but considering its mediocre reception, it was also its only attempt. But was it doomed from the get-go, or is there some merit to the film?
While the “X-Men” comics took their time before fully revealing Wolverine’s past, this film jumps right into it. Murder, mutation, then off to fight in every single war before joining Weapon X. And that’s all within the first few minutes. From there, we get a blend of good action and mediocre writing throughout pretty much the entire movie, until it comes to a frustrating ending.
So let’s take a look at some of the good and the bad.
The good: Hugh Jackman. Was there ever a person better suited for playing Wolverine? I think not. His performance as everyone’s favorite Canadian mutant berserker never fails to get just the right balance of snark, anger, and even heart, no matter what the script is. He makes it work every time.
In fact, the casting is solid for the most part. Liev Schreiber is a great Sabertooth, Taylor Kitsch makes a surprisingly good Gambit, and Ryan Reynolds gave us the precursor to his Deadpool as an early Wade Wilson. (But more on that later…)
Then we have plenty of comic book violence. Blowing up a helicopter? Absolutely. Wolverine and Blob in a boxing match? I’ll take it. Gambit pulling off fancy kinetic energy-boosted flips? Good fun. Even the final battle, with Wolverine and Sabertooth fighting back-to-back against a teleporting foe, is fun to watch if you can ignore the plot.
Which, unfortunately, brings us to the bad.
It feels like the film wanted to use several characters and action pieces without any idea of the how or why. They wanted to put Emma Frost in the film, so we have a girl named Emma who can turn to diamond and serves essentially no other purpose. They wanted Deadpool, so we have… a shirtless guy with his mouth sewn shut and swords coming out of his arms.
Yeah, that’s not Deadpool. Sewing his mouth shut pretty much serves the exact opposite purpose. Thank goodness Ryan Reynolds did it right later on. Overall, it includes characters without any idea of how to actually use them or what makes them compelling characters in the first place.
And as for the plot, it could barely be called one. Unfortunately we get your basic “girl gets killed, guy goes to avenge her” plot, which is the only motivation Logan needs to get his adamantine claws. Sure, there’s some plot twist about Weapon X collecting mutant DNA and everyone working to manipulate Logan, but it’s all just trying to stitch together a plot between the action scenes.
You’d think it would then go into the Weapon X program turning him into a killing machine, right? Because the movie has to end with him losing his memories, after all. Well, the reason he loses his memories is pretty poor too. It’s one of those plot points that the movie had to hit with no idea how to actually do it, so it ends up with William Stryker getting some adamantine bullets and literally stating “They won’t kill him, but his memories won’t recover.” So he gets a headshot, Logan forgets who he is and walks off into the sunset. Yes, that’s the big secret behind Wolverine’s amnesia.
Yet with all those problems, I still can’t say I hate this film. In fact, it’s a guilty pleasure. I mean, Wolverine blows up a helicopter, it’s hard to hate a film that gives us that. Ryan Reynolds was a joy to watch as a pre-Deadpool Wade Wilson, and there’s no shortage of fun fight scenes.
At least for the first half, that is. When we get to the last part, which includes an excuse for Deadpool so poor that both Deadpool movies joke about it, a waste of a perfectly good Emma Frost, and a lackluster reason for Logan’s amnesia, it’s okay to stop watching.
Up until then, though, it’s still a fun ride.