Tuesday, 28 August 2012

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (3 Stars)

I bought this film a long time ago, February 2011, and I only just watched it. It's been lying near my computer for the last 18 months. That's unusual for me, and it might surprise my regular readers who know that I'm a big Marvel fan.

Let me explain. Yes, I'm a big Marvel fan. Yes, I'm a big X-Men fan. But for me the X-Men that I know and love are the original line-up: Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Marvel Girl. These were the members for the first 66 issues, from 1963 to 1970. After this the comic was cancelled for a few years, and the new group was introduced in Giant Sized X-Men #1 in 1975. Only Cyclops remained from the original team, although Marvel Girl and Angel returned later. I greatly enjoyed the stories of the new team as written by the new English author, Chris Claremont. But for me the new team had one weakness: Wolverine.

The X-Men were always young kids. Even though the ages were never explicitly stated (due to the Marvel habit of their characters hardly aging over the years) there is evidence that suggests Marvel Girl was 14 when she first joined the group. Iceman would have been slightly younger, while the rest of the group were a couple of years older. The new members in 1975 were all youngsters, probably in their late teens, except for Wolverine. Wolverine was older, seemingly in his 30's, although in later comics we found out that he's over a hundred years old.

My problem wasn't just his age though. The major problem for me is the type of power he had. Whereas the other mutants in the X-Men had powers to help them fight, Wolverine's powers were specifically geared for killing. He had razor sharp claws that could cut through flesh and bone. Wolverine wasn't like the squeaky clean heroes of the 1960's, he was an anti-hero, someone who would rather kill a villain than capture him. This sort of anti-hero slasher became popular in the independent comics of the 1980's and later. I don't know if Wolverine was the first ever hero of this type, but he was the most famous one and became a pattern used for new heroes. It probably says something about society that 1980's comic readers preferred Wolverine and those like him to the good guys of the 1960's.

So this is the reason I waited. I bought the DVD because I'm a completist, I need to have all the X-Men films. And yet it took me a long long time to bring myself to watch it. The film itself is okay. It's based on Wolverine stories that were written in 2001. Whether Chris Claremont ever intended things like this when he first developed the character 25 years earlier is doubtful. The film's screenplay is the same confusing mix of storylines written decades apart that we see in the other X-Men films, especially "X-Men: First Class". It alienated me that Cyclops met Wolverine before they both joined the X-Men. The film isn't too bad, and Hugh Jackman plays the title role admirably, but the story just doesn't excite me.

Click here to view the trailer.

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