From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

X-Men Origins: Wolverine — The Greatest Story Never Told?

As previously mentioned, I was not a huge fan of the Origins graphic novel, and apparently neither was the screenwriter. The movie uses the flavor of the comic (1800’s Alberta, young Jimmy kills a guy after guy kills his father, finds out guy may have been his real father, goes on the run) but without even the limited emotional depth the graphic story offered. I would not have had the movie replicate that entire plot, but a little more complexity could have been gained by adhering to it a bit more.

There is something gained in giving Logan a brother who shares his mutation and gives in to his dark impulses so the hero doesn’t have to. But it’s questionable why that brother had to be Sabertooth. He’s not called that in the movie (that I remember), though anyone who reads the comics or saw any of the X-Men cartoons knows that Victor Creed is Sabertooth’s supposed real name. He also has Sabertooth’s powers and bad manicure. The problem my mind kept trying to resolve was that, in the first movie, Sabertooth gave no hint that he recognized Wolverine or had any special connection to him. Also, he was about 20 years younger in the first movie and decidedly blond. I personally would not have given up having Mr. Schreiber in this movie for anything. Still, it creates an increasingly annoying continuity goof that most of the core audience won’t appreciate.

X-Men Origins suffers from a lot of internal logical inconsistencies, too. (spoiler alert – highlight to read) Why didn’t Stryker give Agent Zero the adamantium bullets since he clearly anticipated having problems and thus had them made? Why didn’t Logan actually check for wounds on Kayla instead of accepting that a bloody shirt meant that she’d been slashed? (Also, did he just leave her body in the woods to rot?) Why did they pause the preparations for the adamantium bath to make him some new dog tags? Why did will.i.am attempt to fight Victor himself knowing that he was a super bad-ass? Backup is everyone’s friend. Why didn’t Logan simply tell Gambit that he needed help taking down the evil people that had captured him instead of acting like a mysterious agent of those same people? Why did Remy take him to the island himself instead of just saying “It’s on Three-Mile Island, good luck!”? Was Col. Stryker a surgeon in some past life that allowed him to shoot Logan in a way that would exactly wipe out his memories but allow him to retain motor function plus the ability to read and understand English? I could go on.

And then we come to Kayla Silverfox, Logan’s girlfriend. That epitaph should be enough to signal anyone at all familiar with X-Men media that she was fated to die. Wolverine cannot catch a break in this regard, be it in print, in animation, or on celluloid. If he loves a woman, she is going to die. She usually has to die in order to contribute to his emotional growth or character arc. In X-Men Origins she “dies” in order to drive Logan to Stryker, who promises a way to get his revenge.

This plot is as old as the hills, so it bothers me that Logan didn’t see through it.

It also bothers me that, once again, a female character’s only purpose is to sacrifice herself for a man’s plot and angst. Even when (spoiler alert) it’s revealed at the end that she didn’t really die and it was all staged to get Logan to agree to the adamantium thing, that doesn’t make it all okay. And if anyone in the audience was in any doubt that she would be dead for real by the conclusion, they have not watched enough opera or read enough X-Men. It’s not okay to use female characters in this way, but it’s no more than I expected from the people who brought us X-Men 3: Watch Out For Rampant Female Sexuality, It Will Destroy Everything.

There’s a lot to pick apart in this movie. And if I know the Internet, it will be for a long time. If that kind of thing is likely to bother you, don’t spend your money to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Maybe wait until it’s on TV. If you’re just in it for the mutant fights and hot men, by all means, go and enjoy.

X-Men Origins: WolverineTitle: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Rating: PG-13
Director: Gavin Hood
Screenplay: David Benioff, Skip Woods
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, will.i.am, Lynn Collins, Daniel Henney, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Reynolds

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