I’ll admit that the X-Men movies are probably my least favorite superhero films (other than the dreadful first Hulk movie) because as they go along they stray farther and farther from the continuity established in the comic book. I think the Spider-Man movies and IRON MAN were successful because they at least stay true to the spirit of the characters, even if they do condense decades worth of storylines into a few hours.
Despite feeling that way about the X-Men movies, I had no doubt that I’d watch X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. I like the Wolverine character and have ever since he was introduced, and Hugh Jackman did a good job playing him in the other films. As it turns out, I actually liked WOLVERINE more than the other movies in the series, with a couple of reservations, however.
First of all – and this isn’t really the movie’s fault – I never cared for the idea of giving Wolverine an origin story. I really liked the way he was presented early on in the comics as a very enigmatic character with occasional hints that he was more than a hundred years old. That way he could have been anywhere, done anything. There were no real limits on his background. Then the folks at Marvel decided they had to give him not just one origin story, but two, one going back 150 years or so to his childhood, the other detailing how he came to have adamantium bonded to his skeleton. But I ask you, what’s the point of having a mysterious character if you then take all the mystery away from him? I suppose being an enigma eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns, but I didn’t feel like Wolverine had reached that point. Of course, the powers that be at Marvel didn’t come and ask me for my opinion, did they? But there it is for what it’s worth.
That said, the movie version does a pretty good job of being a faithful adaptation of those two origin stories, at least as I remember them. (It’s been a while since I read them.) It veers off from the comic book continuity as it goes along, bringing in characters and situations from much later, but the scripters make it all work pretty well. I don’t think WOLVERINE is a great film, but it’s a consistently entertaining special-effects-laden superhero movie with plenty of action, a little pathos, and a little humor. It must have worked, because it made me want to go read some comic books.
Now for my other quibble. You’d think that with the hundreds of names that appear in the opening and closing credits for this movie, there would have been some place to mention Len Wein, the writer who actually, you know, created the character of Wolverine. But unless I missed it, which is always possible, I didn’t see his name anywhere. I know, I know, that’s the comic book biz for you. But sometimes it bothers me, and this was one of those times.
THE PULP CALENDAR: December 4
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