Reviewed by John Hussey
With the first three (mixed-bag) films supposedly coming to a firm conclusion (although they were sly enough to leave things open enough for future projects) 20th Century Fox decided that they didn’t want their X-Men franchise to simply die. Instead they relied on the potential idea of spin-off films. This started with a project following their most successful character, Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman). I guess by this point I was still sort of in limbo as to my opinions towards Jackman’s portrayal. It’s not what I would call a definitive Wolverine interpretation, but it’s not exactly abominable either.
Regardless of my opinions, Jackman was brought back to tell his infamous origin story, something that was left quite vague within X-Men 2. You would think that this film is set up for success right? I mean, how can you go wrong with writing a story set around one of the most iconic Marvel characters? Well 20th Century Fox certainly managed to fuck it up and it makes me wonder what the hell goes through their tiny little minds. With somebody as iconic as Wolverine you really don’t won’t to piss off the fans, which this film did quite a lot.
Now, X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t what I would call a bad film because it is actually entertaining throughout. But the problem lies with it being a typical popcorn flick, similar to the previous three films within the franchise. It’s devoid of any real intention to create a genuine X-Men adaption and instead decides to dissect the comic-books to the point where they’re none-recognisable. There’s so many bad creative decisions made within this film that it’s almost unbearable to comprehend. That and the constant continuity problems throughout makes this spin-off a guilty pleasure (at best) whilst the rest of your mind simply discards it as a complete mess and a waste of your time and effort.
To be honest, in some ways this film was a nice breath of fresh air compared to the previous film, X-Men: The Last Stand, which threw so many wild ideas into your face in order to make a huge statement in an attempt to shock us. “This is the last chapter and it’s going to be fucking hard-core!! Death and carnage everything!! All out Mutant warfare!!” I suppose it was nice to get away from all that bollocks and enjoy a story about Wolverine where he’s a different kind of character. Here we see him as he was before his memory wipe, thus understanding his character a lot more personally.
But, problems quickly start to develop and so these neat ideas about development get brushed to one side to allow madness to take control. I can’t exactly comment too much on what they got right in the adaption process but X-Men Origins: Wolverine seemed very unfaithful and completely disregarding the comic-books’ continuity. Then again, it somehow managed to disregard its own continuity (which is an achievement in itself).
One of the first problems lied with making Sabretooth (now referred by his actual name Victor Creed) Logan’s half-brother, and thus granting the villain a load of development which makes no fucking sense. Bare in mind this is supposed to be set before the events of X-Men but Sabretooth’s sudden character revamp goes against what was already established. How come Sabretooth never mentioned he was Logan’s brother in the future? How come they had zero chemistry or conflict onscreen? And don’t come back with, “They hadn’t written X-Men Origins: Wolverine yet!” Basically this added element made no sense and just fucks over the already existing films, or makes me hate the first film more because of the clear lack of identity and cool shit.
It’s established that Logan and Sabretooth go on the run in 1845 and eventually fight through every single major conflict, from the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and finally ending up in the Vietnam conflict. Though this introductory montage does feel rather strange, it does add a lot to Logan’s character. We get an idea about his suffering to contain the wild animal within, which is almost reflected by his half-brother Victor as he gradually becomes more animalistic. This is where the groundwork for their conflict begins as Logan starts to realise that Victor has become the very beast he has been trying to contain.
Enter Colonel William Stryker. The prequel/spin-off tries its best to try and link up the past with the future, granting the closure for fans as to how Logan became Wolverine. We have the exciting aspect of Logan joining the X-Force, including members Agent Zero, John Wraith, Fred Dukes, and Chris Bradley, but this is very short-lived. What could’ve clearly carried the film is dropped within about five minutes, which is a massive shame because there was so much potential here.
Also there’s the disappointing element of Ryan Reynolds‘ being completely dicked over. After years of trying to establish Deadpool on the big-screen his goal is abruptly ended. We get to see a couple of neat scenes as he portrays Deadpool’s alter-ego, Wade Wilson. Reynolds gives his best shot at focusing his energy to bring this badass, cocky bastard to life, whilst adding in the expected humour, but it feels like he’s watered down by the lack of focus and the fact that the film wasn’t at all bothered about performing accurate adapting. And as quickly as he came he is quickly forgotten, merely mentioned by name a few times throughout the rest of the film. What the fuck?!
It’s by this point (and bare in mind we aren’t very far into the film) that I felt that X-Men Origins: Wolverine doesn’t know what it wants to fucking do with itself as it constantly changes its tone, setting, genre, and focus. What started off as a period piece quickly turned into a war film, followed shortly by Logan being turned into a special agent, before the film took a nose-dive and became a romance set in Canada where Logan lives out his days as a lumberjack. Part of me just wishes that the film picked a trajectory and just stayed on course, instead of pissing around in order to cram as much shit into one feature as humanly possible.
Then of course it isn’t long before Victor begins to hunt down the retired X-Force, starting with Chris. Stryker conveniently tries to warn Logan about the deaths of his teammates (which also includes Wade, which means the infamous Deadpool has been assassinated off-screen – What the fuck!) but he pays no attention to his former employer, citing that he’s now Canadian and didn’t care about the affairs of the American government.
This leads to Logan becoming pissed at Victor after the love of his life, Kayla Silverfox, and a fight breaks out. But because Logan has grown soft over his six years of retirement Victor gains the upper hand and tosses Logan around like a ragdoll. Stryker then gives Logan a means of justice by offering to make him indestructible. And the dots begin to come together as we witness how Logan becomes Wolverine. Though the downside of this prequel/spin-off is we already know that Stryker is a villain because of the events of X-Men 2, so its fairly obvious that he’s merely using Logan as part of his twisted experiments on Mutants.
Then again, it was already indicated earlier on in the film that Stryker was a nut-job due to his over obsession to claim the alimantium in the first place, resulting in Logan walking away from the X-Force. There’s no air of mystery, nor is there any dramatic revelations because we either already know, or the film had already made things way too bloody obvious. Upon being grafted with his new body Logan goes on the run, but then the action is once again delayed for another slow scene in which Logan encounters an old couple who take him in for the night.
Tragically a running pattern occurs as everyone around Logan begins to die one by one as Stryker pursues him. Zero is sent in to kill him but despite his supposed perfect accuracy he is unable to take Logan down and ultimately is killed after an over-the-top action sequence, in which Logan takes out a helicopter (accompanied with the clichéd “walk away from the flames” pose). Logan then turns to his old friend John in order to get some answers, ultimately encountering Fred who is now “Blob”, but not the Blob you’d expect. Instead Fred is a brick shithouse because of an eating disorder (oh Hollywood, you really do hate comic-book fans don’t you).
Upon getting the information required Logan pays Gambit a visit. Now, to me this should’ve been a brilliant moment. A highlight of the film but instead felt very rushed and wasted. In fact, that seems to be the theme within this prequel/spin-off. So many elements and characters are thrown into the mix for no good reason and the filmmakers wonder why everything turned into a cluster-fuck of bad decisions. This film was the equilvent of selecting the best ingredients from around the world and then sticking them into a blender. The intent, it would seem, is obviously to create a hybrid meal but instead you end up with a bad taste in your mouth because the idea wasn’t thought through.
We have a couple of cool moments with Gambit before he is brushed over (like everything else in this film). Frank receives an off-screen death and then Victor kills John after he declares that his teleportation attacks are “too predictable”. It’s revealed that Gambit had escaped Stryker’s twisted facility, in which locks up Mutants for experimentation (which linked into the creation of the X-Force who were brought together to locate and capture their fellow kind). It becomes rather dark, linking back to Stryker’s sinister schemes within X-Men 2, brought on by his son’s mutation. To make him appear even more crazy the film decides to have him kill a government official (which seemed rather pointless and lazy if you ask me).
Things escalate for the third act as Logan is confronted with a major revelation. It turns out that Kayla isn’t dead, and was in fact a double-agent in order to keep him under Stryker’s watchful eye (although it was made slightly deeper by the fact that Stryker blackmailed her through her sister, who is being held prisoner at the facility). For a split second Logan opts to walk away from the battle because he no longer has a reasoning to fight Stryker. This moment helped to define the fact that Logan isn’t the traditional hero. The entire film depicted his actions being caused by vengeance, rather than a quest to actually help people, making him a more unique protagonist.
But alas, despite all the betrayal he just underwent Logan still returns for Kayla when her life is put in danger once again by Victor. In this moment Logan becomes the hero and you start to feel sad for his character because you know all of his development and transformation is soon to be undone. For the first time during the film Logan is acting as the hero and wants to save others. This had been hinted throughout the film during his more subtle moments, such as his romance with Kayla, and his encounter with the old couple. There were many indications that Logan had a good heart and wanted to finally turn himself around, walking away from the animal and become something greater.
And then comes the biggest middle-finger to comic-book fans in the history of filmmaking (besides the 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four). I’m talking of course about Deadpool! Holy shit! WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY FUCKING THINKING!! It’s an utter disgrace. It really is. I don’t get how Hollywood is allowed time and time again to get things so fucking wrong, to the point where the fans are shat over through a large industrial fan by a greedy (and quite frankly) pathetic producer.
How the hell did they look at the comics and then come to the conclusion that the “Merc with a Mouth” was in fact a silent killer that has his mouth sown shut and is grafted with multiple Mutant abilities. Essentially he’s become a fucking lab-rat experiment that is utilised as a weapon. Here’s the sad part. Deadpool isn’t his title because that’s the name he chose. It’s a fucking codename. He’s also referred to as Weapon XI. Sigh!
Honestly at times like this you just wish that the fuck-wits that come up with this shit get what they rightfully deserve, a fucking bullet at the back of the head. Put the fuckers down like a rapid animal. I mean don’t get me wrong, like with most of the film it acts as good entertainment, with the final fight between Logan and Deadpool proving actually quite good.
But the implications make it unbearable because you know one of the greatest comic-book characters has been well and truly fucked up main-street. It’s actually a miracle in itself that Reynolds managed to bring this iconic character back after the shit 20th Century Fox pulled here. In fact, poor Reynolds barely features at all throughout the entire film. He gets his shot as Wade near the beginning (which was a clear indication that he was the right man for the job) and then he’s absent until his “grand” entrance at the end, to which 95% of his remaining screen-time is played by a stunt-double.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine then tries to fix itself after it essentially pissed venomous piss all over its audience by bringing things to a conclusion. And here we meet even more downfalls. In order to connect things into X-Men we have not-so subtle connections which feel incredibly forced, as well as completely breaking continuity. We have a random appearance from Cyclops as a kid, who is randomly sought out by Stryker because he wants his ability to be attached to Weapon XI (to which Deadpool randomly uses in his fight against Logan, because everybody knows that Deadpool has laser fucking eyes!).
This is then followed by the Mutant prisoners being found by Professor X. This surprise appearance by Patrick Stewart is completely awkward (if slightly impressive) because it just makes no fucking sense other than to connect certain dots which didn’t need to be there. Also, this is Professor X before his accident, which becomes rather odd when in the next film, X-Men: First Class, we see him crippled by Magneto in his younger years. So, yeah, explain that one without backing yourself into a corner. This film is just one massive cluster-fuck of problems, to the point where the other films begin to erase it from existence because it makes no fucking sense.
I have to give the scene in which Logan loses his memory credit because that was actually a little heart-warming. In a desperate attempt to get Kayla to safety (after she’s wounded in battle) Logan is attacked. Enraged he tries taking Stryker down once and for all but is ultimately shot in the head by a alimantium bullet, which causes him to lose his memory. It’s a tragic conclusion really because everything Logan has endured, all the progression he had made, heck, all the friends and loved-ones he made and lost in his long existence have all been erased. It’s quite devastating watching Logan look down upon Kayla no longer knowing who she is, despite the fact moments prior he was willing to die for her.
Overall, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is certainly a mixed-bag but it’s strangely still not as bad, and bland, as X-Men. It definitely goes down in history as being a massive fucking train-wreck, and being the greatest insult to comic-book fans, but it still surprisingly has a watchable factor to it. But, I think the negatives definitely outweigh the good, making this entire prequel/spin-off a massive fucking joke and a complete waste of fucking time. Thank God that this film didn’t entirely destroy the already existing sinking ship that the X-Men film franchise resided on and that some good ideas managed to escape via the lifeboats.