X-Men Origins: Wolverine
May 2, 2009

Wolverine movie poster

I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine today, and overall, I enjoyed it. But then, I didn’t have very high expectations. As I jokingly Twittered, I got to see naked Hugh butt, so my time was well-spent.

I was a bit surprised that it was so much a straightforward action movie, without much of the humor and characterization that makes a film more attractive outside the core young male target audience. The action set pieces were well-done, but after a while, they almost became boring because there wasn’t enough other stuff to balance it.

To talk about it in more depth requires spoilers, after the break.

For instance, the history of Logan and Victor is all about “and then they fought in this war”. Didn’t they ever do anything else? There have been peaceful times in the world, right? Hugh did look terrific as a WWII grunt, though. And with so much experience, why did they always stay regular soldiers? Didn’t want the job of leadership?

About 45 minutes or more into the movie, I suddenly realized that we hadn’t seen any major character who didn’t have some kind of superpower. (With Stryker (Danny Huston), I rationalized that although he didn’t have powers, he was so much an evil mastermind that he fit right in.) So there wasn’t much balance with the lives of “normal” people. It made the characters more remote.

Similarly, there were only three women with lines (and only one at a time) until very near the end. I took that as another sign it was intended as a boy’s movie. I missed the more meaty female roles from the X-Men movies proper.

My friends had to tell me to stop giggling during the supposedly serious bits, but some of them… when Stryker tries to tell Logan to come back, and he responds with something about “you wanted the animal, now you’ve got him” and vows to come after him, it was straight out of a Rambo-esque 80s action thriller. Plus, it amused me that there were a few too many loving shots of the claws slowly extending. Symbolism much?

Given mutations, how can you have similar abilities run in a family? And I really didn’t need to see the mid-1850s “James Howlett” origin — it looked even dumber on-screen than it did on paper.

I liked seeing Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), but his presence was too often plot convenient instead of logical.

I found myself wondering about the mutants I’d never heard of before. John Wraith? Bolt? Was the Blob’s origin similar in the comics? Although I really liked Daniel Henney’s portrayal, I thought Agent Zero was the same as Deadpool. (I’d also really like to see Ryan Reynolds return in that role.) Oh, and was the kid with multi-color eyes anyone special?

Wolverine’s leather jacket got its own origin story, which was pretty unnecessary, but since they made such a big deal out of it … how does he get it back at the end, when he’s forgotten it ever existed?

I thought Hugh Jackman did a very decent job bringing some subtlety to the points where he’s doing more than being grumpy (most of the character as written). Every time Liev Schreiber (Sabretooth) was on-screen, I hated him, which suggests he was also doing his job well.

Afterwards, I went home and watched the first X-Men movie again, and it’s hard buying Wolverine as a small-town Alaska brawler after seeing him take down a nuclear plant tower. The scale of the films, having to be bigger and better as each movie comes out, doesn’t match the chronological order of the events within.

20 Responses  
Thom writes:  


My biggest gripe about the film was his under use…and then how he got used later in the film.

Johanna writes:  

Um, what? You can’t put quotes in angle brackets because the system thinks you’re trying HTML.

Jake Forbes writes:  

This movie was very safe and tidy — on paper it must have seemed like a pretty sure thing. I couldn’t work up any ire for the film, but it definitely didn’t surprise me in either style or storytelling, and at the end of the day, why go to the movies if it’s just going through the motions? The first movie had great character moments that made up fr the mediocre action, and X-Men 2 had some truly invigorating sequences (like the Nightcrawler opening), and built on the report between the cast. This movie (and 3) are just aren’t any fun, even if they’re not outright bad.

Thom writes:  

Whoops! Sorry…I was responding to:
(I’d also really like to see Ryan Reynolds return in that role.)

Johnny writes:  

Oh, and was the kid with multi-color eyes anyone special?

If you’re talking about the kid in the ice, it’s Jason Stryker, who plays a big part of the plot of X-Men 2

Johanna writes:  

Thanks, Johnny, I’m rewatching that next. Jake, you make some good points, but I still enjoyed the experience. I won’t be watching the movie again, but I had a good time, and that’s all I was expecting.

Kris writes:  

John Wraith? – Obscure, exactly what was shown in the movie, almost. I think he might have made a comeback recently.

Bolt?- Haven’t seen the movie, but I know “Beak” was in it, and he’s just a random X-kiddo student

Blob’s origin similar in the comics?- In the comics, Blob is a circus strongman. The X-men try to recruit him, fail in classic Stan Lee fashion, he joins the brotherhood, goes away, and then eventually becomes part of Mystique’s brotherhood. In the comics, his mutant power has always been being really massive and unmovable.

I thought Agent Zero was the same as Deadpool. – Agent Zero is Maverick’s code name, I believe. Different character. Obscure 90’s guy, once again.

Johanna writes:  

I was surprised by Wraith because he seemed like a Nightcrawler knockoff. I guess it makes sense to have mutants with similar powers, but I prefer it when they’re different.

Beak wasn’t in the movie. That was either a mistake or a change in plans.

Thanks for the info on Blob. I kind of liked the movie version better.

Kris writes:  

Looks like I’m not nuts. The Marvel Database at one point listed Bolt as Beak. I remember looking at that picture and saying “Why did they call him Beak if he doesn’t fly?” In fact, someone only fixed it yesterday, and took him off the Beak disambiguation page.

vid writes:  

I share the opinion of many that this was an okay movie if you have low expectations. The story was pretty boring including the twists and too much time was spent on it. Most of the mutants not named Wolverine or Sabretooth were kind of pointless and could’ve easily been removed with little effect on the story.

According to the comics, the only characters who have any actual connection to Wolvie’s past are Agent Zero, John Wraith, Sabretooth & Silver Fox via Team X and Weapon X. Deadpool has an indirect connection being linked to Weapon X.

Would’ve liked to have seen more action but what we got was acceptable. Some of those scenes were nonsensical. Like gambit interrupting Wolvie & Sabretooth fight. Also Gambit climbing a building with two sticks? Or John Wraith thinking he can kill Sabretooth by simply punching him to death. Or how about Agent Zero not being given any adamantium bullets to kill Wolvie?

Even if you ignore any relation to the comic book. The movie does screw over Deadpool.

Thom writes:  

-Or how about Agent Zero not being given any adamantium bullets to kill Wolvie?

In fairness, the film seemed to suggest that they had not mastered that yet and had managed maybe one bullet. It did not appear they had enough to make a bunch of bullets to give out.

Rich Johnston writes:  

The war montage is very much an attempt to show the changing nature of James and Victor’s relationship, initially intertwined and backing each other up, then Victor breaking out and pursuing his own agenda without a care fo James, and James having to get him out of whatever situation he finds himself in.

Also, odds are, rising through the ranks is hard when after a few decades you haven’t aged. Better to stay a grunt and keep reenlisting as someone new.

The change in tone between the end of the movie and the start of X-Men is no larger than the change from super soldier to Monty Python lumberjack.

The leather jacket is a residual memory.. he does seem to keep a few of those, if only emerging in nightmares.

Manuel writes:  

You enjoy this movie while you have low expectations or if you simply want to have some fun watching action scenes, going with your friends or girlfriend -or boyfriend-, eating popcorn and leaving your ‘critic’ at home.

El Santo writes:  

Worst part about going to the movie was being the resident geek in our group and having to field all the X-Men related questions. I got into a (light-hearted) argument with a friend who thought Quicksilver was Storm’s son. Wife had to knock down my inner Sheldon. :)

Overall, it weren’t no Iron Man … but really, what is? Our group had fun, got us interested in watching the original X-Men movies again, and that’s all I can really ask for.

EssDee writes:  

This Beak thing has been bugging me. As soon as I heard he was added to the cast I was excited to see how they portrayed him in the movie. The only shot you get of Beak, as Beak, is when the doctors pull back the sheet at Weapon X and you see a pair of huge ‘bulbous’ eyes and a purple-ish colored nose region with no nose. As far as I could tell this was Beak. I can’t remember you said it, but I think it may have been Wraith and he says something along the lines of ‘I can only imagine what they’re doing to him over there’. This was after Wolverine paid him and Blob a visit and explained that Sabertooth was hunting down mutants and bringing them back to Striker for experimentation. Other small cameos I am pretty certain of were Nightcrawler (in a cage at Weapon X) and Banshee (redhead kid with metal plate across his mouth). I have only seen the movie once but am going to peeps it again to make sure of these things.

Johanna writes:  

That’s what I like the DVDs for — pointing out all those little bits of trivia.

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