The X-Men franchise has had three films focusing on Marvel’s popular comic book series, now with X-Men: Origins – Wolverine there is the first of several proposed spin-offs. While touched upon in X-Men 2, this movie expands the Canadian mutant’s back-story. Since Wolverine is among (if not the top) the most popular of The X-Men, it makes sense he would be the first to get a solo film.
The movie starts in Canada in the 1800s where young James Howlett manifests his bone claws for the first time. We then get a taste of Wolverine’s life through the years as he and his older brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) survive wars — (Civil, World and Vietnam) and more due to their healing factors which give them an elongated life. They eventually get recruited to a team of mercenaries containing other mutants which is known as Team X by William Stryker. The team include the teleporter John Wraith (will.i.am), mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) marksman Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) and more, the team does a lot of dirty work for the U.S. government. James gets tired of this life and eventually quits, but Victor feels betrayed and starts killing the members of the group to draw James out.
James is living in the Canadian mountains as a lumberjack (now known as Logan) with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) he’s warned by Stryker about Victor and ignores him, this leads to Victor killing Kayla and getting into a brawl with James. Logan can’t beat Victor but Stryker offers him a way to beat him, we then see the process which bound the adamantium to his bones making them unbreakable.
Stryker then orders his memory erased but Logan now going by the name Wolverine (based on an old story Kayla told him) hears this and breaks out before the memory wipe can happen. He then learns Stryker is killing other mutants to create the ultimate mutant and Victor is working for him, in fact Kayla’s death was orchestrated by Stryker because Wolverine’s healing factor made him the only mutant to have a possibility of surviving the bonding process.
Wolverine then starts hunting down Stryker and Victor, he comes across Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch) who fans will recognize as the popular mutant Gambit who is the only mutant to have escaped Stryker’s hidden lab. Wolverine and Remy team-up to get to the lab where they meet the ultimate mutant, find out Kayla is alive and was also working for Stryker because he’s holding her sister. They must fight the ultimate mutant that Wilson has been turned into and is now known as Deadpool, Wolverine must fight Victor and free all the other mutants that Stryker was using for testing. Got all that because it can be a bit confusing even for someone who has been reading comics for over 20 years and counts Wolverine as one of his favorite characters.
The movie suffers from throwing in too many plots, (as a comic fan I could identify a number of series and issues that the movie drew from and felt it was overkill) and some characters that made no sense being in this movie. I don’t want to sound like the comic book guy from The Simpsons and start pointing out all the little errors, but a few things should be mentioned. I really didn’t like that an adamantium bullet to the head caused Wolverine’s brain damage at the end of the film which gives him his legendary amnesia, (he has a healing factor that should fix that) there are a number of characters that shouldn’t be there either, but most glaring is Cyclops who appears as a teenager when this movie takes place at least 30 years before the events of the first X-Men movie, also Sabretooth doesn’t recognize Wolverine in X-Men and this film should have been used to set that plot point.
That said, I still enjoyed the film while not as good as X-Men 2, it is vastly superior to X-Men 3. Jackman was perfectly cast as Wolverine and now is the only actor I can see playing the adamantium-laced mutant. Liev Schreiber was great as the blood-thirsty psychotic Sabretooth, and Ryan Reynolds plays the babbling mercenary Deadpool to perfection, (so much so that he will get his own spin-off film) the only better incarnation of the character is in the Hulk VS Wolverine animated DVD.
There are two versions of the DVD (not including the blu-ray edition); the standard DVD and a two disc special edition. While the special edition has a bevy of extras, the standard DVD has one extra: “Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins” is a behind the scenes featurette which runs under 15 minutes. It covers why this story was chosen over the original story of Wolverine’s Samurai days in Japan which will be the plot of the sequel – studio interference as they said the full origin needs to get out of the way before tackling a new story. It also covers some of the special effects and has interviews with producers and star Hugh Jackman. The featurette is interesting, but for more extras including deleted scenes, an alternate memory erase sequence and interviews with Wolverine creator Len Wein and X-Men creator Stan Lee, you’ll want to pick up the special edition.
Hopefully now that the origin story has been told, we’ll have the “Wolverine in Japan” story, there are several storylines that can be adapted, but the best would be the 1982 Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. Only time will tell what the inspiration for Wolverine 2 will be.