I’m not going to waste anyone’s time listing the cast, or the run time or even a plot synopsis for this review. If you are here at MovieGuys reading this review, you already know all about Wolverine. I’ve seen it now a couple of times, as I typically do for all the big time films I review. In a technical sense, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a big time film. Short and sweet: If you are just a casual fan of super heroes, the X-Men, and Wolverine, or if you are a fan of action movies with flashy F/X, you’ll really enjoy Wolverine. The story is told as well as you could expect from a film that suffers from trying to cram too many characters into the same movie. This movie was clearly made for casual fans and those who really liked the X-Men animated series, but knew next to nothing about the comics the show was based on. There is plenty of action, cool fight sequences, and lots of flashy F/X. A lot of people will come out of the theater with a smile on their face. I wasn’t one of them. No, the movie started out well and nearly had me going, only to fall flat on it’s face and end up being a mockery of the comic book characters that were “altered” for use in the film. I pride myself in knowing a lot about the comic characters that appeared in this film, and I can tell all you comic geeks out there that this film will piss you off beyond words. There were moments that I found hard to watch. Sure, within the context of the story they were crafting, nearly everything depicted in the movie made sense. But there were just too many changes for me to handle. If I knew nothing about the characters, or even if I knew a little bit about them, I probably would’ve loved the movie. This will end up being a very financially successful film. So ends the spoiler free part of this review. If you don’t want to know anything else about the plot or where this film went wrong, stop right here. The rest of this post will consist of my analysis of the biggest flaws in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I’d also like to ask that when commenting on this post, out of respect to those who have not seen the film yet and actually want to, please start your comment with a spoiler warning should you choose to address any spoiler-ish material.
***Major Spoilers Ahead***
The film started out well. The minor “tweaks” in Wolverine’s back story shown in the beginning of the film were acceptable, and the sequences were very well done. It was very reminiscent of the beginning of Watchmen, flashing sequences behind credits to quickly cover a large period of time that really didn’t need to be expanded upon. The team, whom I will reluctantly refer to as the “Weapon X” team, were assembled quickly, and no back story was offered for these characters. Generally, they were depicted quite nicely. I know a lot of you are going to say I’m biased, but I can honestly say that out of the secondary characters at work in the film (and there were a lot of them) Wade Wilson really stole the show. Ryan Reynolds was spot on in his portrayal of the man we affectionately call the Merc with the Mouth. His trademark wit and sarcasm are perfect, and he even manages to add in the slight twinge of insanity that true Deadpool fans know and love. His interactions with the rest of the “team” were exactly as I would have imagined they would be, as if lifted from the pages of the comics. The rest of the secondary characters were very impressive, as most of the actors gave convincing performances. The exception here is Gambit. They screwed him up big time. More on that later.
It is where Logan gets his adamantium skeleton that the film starts to fall apart. From there, it is a free fall into the ridiculous and outrageous. More and more characters were crammed into this film, and even though a lot of them were screwed up big time, the biggest flaw of the film was that it didn’t have the time to properly develop the characters that actually had a relationship with Wolverine. Many were just thrown in to appease fans, and while the actors did a fine job portraying them, the characters just weren’t given enough screen time to develop any sort of connection with the audience. Wade Wilson/Deadpool and John Wraith were two characters that easily could’ve been fan favorites if they just would’ve been given proper screen time to evolve and grow. Oh, and if the rumors about re shoots for the film including more Deadpool are true, than he really didn’t get much screen time to begin with, because that character isn’t in a very large part of the film. One has to wonder why Ryan Reynolds signed up for this. I’m sure he thought there would be franchise potential, and believe it or not I actually believe there still can be a Deadpool franchise without having to retell the back story. The character played a large part in the film, but just wasn’t on screen enough and was handled very poorly. All the internet buzz about Deadpool being Weapon XI were true, and yes that was “Deadpool” fighting Wolverine with a bunch of powers that the character doesn’t actually have. More on that later.
I don’t want to just bash the film though. There were some really great moments. The complex relationship between Logan and Creed was explored very well. The two of them fought… a LOT in this movie. We all know Hugh Jackman is a good Wolverine, but many people had doubts about Schreiber’s Sabretooth. I can honestly say that he did a damn good job. I loved watching him as Creed/Sabretooth. Schreiber really stepped it up and delivered a performance that nearly stole every scene he was in. The special effects and action sequences were also very well done. I was rather impressed with the fight scenes, however unbelievable they were, and I couldn’t take my eyes away.
The film really did a number on a lot of characters, yet still managed to set the studio up quite nicely with plenty of spin-off and related film properties to develop. By my count, Wolverine set up 3 potential mutant/X-Men/Weapon X related films: X-Men First Class, Gambit and Deadpool. Now, here is where I’m going to get really spoiler-ish on you, so you may want to turn away. We’ll start with X-Men First Class. There was an unexpected cameo at the end of the film of one very powerful telepath who welcomed all of the rescued mutants onto a helicopter to take them to safety. Some of the mutants that were either shown or seriously hinted at were Cyclops, Emma Frost, Iceman, and a very young Storm. It’s clear that they were added to test the waters for a potential new X-Men franchise. Bank on a film being made along those lines in some way. Gambit also played a role in the film, one that was larger than deserved if I do say so myself. Gambit’s most memorable scene is him playing a poker game with poker pro Daniel Negraneau. In all honesty, I never really understood why everyone loved Gambit so much. Maybe it was the accent, the dark and shadowy personae, or the rebel attitude, but Gambit was huge in the 90’s. He was stuck in Wolverine for two reasons: to appease fans that were pissed that he didn’t appear in one of the three X films, and to test waters for a spin-off. Now, based on audience reaction to the character during my second viewing of the film (the first was a private showing) I would say that audiences would pay to see Gambit in his own film. Taylor Kitsch was charismatic and had the Gambit look down. Not what everyone knows from the animated series or comics, but it was good enough for me. My issues with the character were that he was portrayed as a weak minded follower as opposed to a bad ass rebel. He seemed to appear out of nowhere, and disappear just as quickly. Also, and this is huge: HE DIDN’T HAVE A CAJUN ACCENT!!! Gambit is a Cajun, make no mistake about it, and Kitsch butchered the accent. He sounded more like a Texan who has nearly become acclimated to California enough to lose all traces of his accent. Very weak. I was massively disappointed.
Then there was Deadpool. I had such high hopes for this one. For the first half of the film, I was excited. It was like I was seeing Wade lifted from the comic pages and onto the big screen. Reynolds was superb, and I was stoked. But then they decided to hide the character until it was revealed that he was turned into Weapon XI, with absolutely no explanation as to how or why. We know from the beginning of the film that Wade was a bad ass who wouldn’t have agreed to something like that, so I would’ve liked an explanation. Was it a surprise? Would’ve been if not for the internet. Only a miniscule hint that Wilson still had screen time coming. Now, what they did with Weapon XI… Let’s just say I’m not happy. I get why they did it. It makes sense for the film. But it has absolutely nothing to do with anything from the comics. And Stryker even called him “Deadpool.” I get why and how they did that, but I still shuddered. I couldn’t stand to see him with his mouth sewn shut (so Stryker could finally get Wade to shut up) The final showdown with Wolverine could’ve been great if not for that.
Even with the powers he’s not supposed to have, allow Reynolds to wisecrack about Wolverine while they are fighting, and I’d love it. A sarcastic “bub” reference would’ve been nice. Anyway, big time spoiler here: “Deadpool” got his head chopped off and he and his severed head fell down a nuclear reactor (one I should note that wasn’t working). I truly believe they can still turn that “Deadpool” into a franchise carrying character and even fix the horrific mistakes made for the Wolverine film. Here’s my thoughts, and I’m trying to be as unbiased and totally realistic as I possibly can be: Wilson was shown to have a healing ability similar to if not stronger than Wolverine’s. In the comics, severing Wolverine’s head wouldn’t kill him, so why wouldn’t the healing ability in Deadpool allow him to slowly regrow a body and rise from the ashes so to speak? That would be an easy way to explain away the loss of adamantium swords from his wrists and the black lines, even the laser eyes. His new body is horribly disfigured, and lacking those last second add ons that weren’t done properly (the assistant did say he wasn’t ready) so they didn’t regenerate with the body. Wilson would snap from the sight of what is done to him, and in an act of showing his “new found” levels of insanity, he would cut his mouth open so he could do what he does best… talk shit about the things he’s killing. You could throw on the costume and give him the swords that he wielded and a couple of guns, and we have the merc with the mouth, easily explained away without stretching too much for audiences to believe. Now, do I think it will happen this way? No. My honest thought is that the true ‘Pool fanatics will lash out, and there will be enough negative attention that they would have to give it the “Ed Norton’s Hulk” treatment and quickly explain away his “condition.” Better yet, and what I’m really hoping for, is that they start with Wilson in a lab like facility being experimented on, and tortured by Francis/Ajax, so they can show his true origins and properly set the character up for a franchise. I honestly believe that the character is strong enough to carry his own franchise, and that people would pay to see a properly done Deadpool film. The most important part here, is to make sure you have Reynolds come back to play the character. I don’t care how bad they screwed up “Deadpool.” He WAS Wade Wilson, and no one could play the character better than him.
Kind of got sidetracked there. Just like the film did when it was trying so hard to please so many people. Where X-Men Origins: Wolverine went wrong, and where other films can learn from it’s mistakes, is that it tried too hard to be something that a wide array of movie goers would like instead of trying hard to be a good movie first. Cut out all that B.S. about the young mutants, and the Blob, and Gambit. Give us a film with real Weapon X characters. John Wraith, Agent Zero/Maverick, Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Deadpool. That’s it. They could’ve developed characters properly and allowed story lines to work themselves out without making them feel rushed. I was really disappointed in the movie. It was fun, but it wasn’t what I hoped for, and it wasn’t what it should’ve been. Next time FOX, try making a movie with a solid plot and strong characters. You’d be surprised at the results.