X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the totally unnecessary origin of the best there is at what he does, but what he does best isn’t very nice. Since 20th Century Fox made it clear that they only ever cared about Wolverine, they finally just made a Wolverine movie. Despite his origin already being covered in X2 and Hugh Jackman practically being the star of all three movies. Wolverine has a very complicated history. He was created in 1974 by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita Sr. Although he initially appeared in The Incredible Hulk #180, it was his addition to the Giant-Size X-Men #1 that got him recognition. Hard to believe a short Canadian Mutant with retractable claws became such a complex icon.
After X-Men: The Last Stand killed the franchise, Fox pitched a new line of Origin films. X-Men Origins: Magneto would have been another one, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine was so panned that the idea fell apart. Director Gavin Hood’s unfamiliarity with the source material, the inclusion of any random Mutant they wanted, terrible CGI, and a sanitized PG-13 rating were to blame. Along with behind the scenes issues and leaked footage. But I was still excited to go see X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Although I was 13 at the time, I still didn’t understand how the rights to Marvel characters worked. So I confusingly thought it was part of the MCU…
X-Men Origins: Wolverine recounts every detail of Wolverine’s origin. By utilizing story elements from “Weapon X,” his 1982 solo comics, and the Origin storyline. The latter was ironically made in response to the original 2000 X-Men movie. Like the comics, the movie begins as far back as 19th Century Canada. A young James Howlett’s Mutant powers manifest when the man he thinks is his father is killed. One thing I never liked was giving Wolverine bone claws before he has Adamantium. I know the Origin comic introduced them, but they just don’t feel right. Another problem is lazily making Wolverine and Sabretooth brothers. Their rivalry is complicated, but they never had that relation in the comics. When they decide to run away together, it leads to what is easily the best sequence in the movie. As Victor Creed and Logan fight in the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. The transitions are seamless and it reveals Victor becoming more savage while Logan remains protective. Then it’s all downhill from there.
Even in a bad movie, Hugh Jackman perfectly understands Wolverine’s pain. His hair is slightly longer and this was the first time he got jacked. Although I feel sort of sorry for Tyler Mane, Liev Schreiber was an excellent replacement. He’s the better actor, but his more downplayed animal appearance and generic black coat aren’t as accurate as Mane. They’re both enlisted by Danny Huston as a younger Colonel William Stryker. They join a far more randomly assorted version of Team X. One made up of Logan, Victor, technopath Chris Bradley, teleporter John Wraith, gunslinger Agent Zero, the Blob, and Deadpool himself. Despite his large superhero filmography, Ryan Reynolds always wanted to play Deadpool. When his solo movie failed to materialize, he settled on playing a PG-13 Wade Wilson mercenary. He talks a lot and his duel katana skills are impressive, but all he wears is a red vest and tactical gear. Team X is sent to track down Adamantium in Africa, but they go too far and Logan leaves the team.
Years later in 1979, Logan is living happily as a lumberjack in Canada with his new love interest Kayla Silverfox. In the comics, Silver Fox is a Native American Mutant member of Team X. Lynn Collins’ Silverfox similarly has the power to manipulate others. The most unnecessary part of X-Men Origins: Wolverine are the explanations given to parts of his character. The name Wolverine came from a tale about the moon or something, his dog tags were branded by Stryker, and his ever important brown & orange jacket came from an old couple. After Victor starts killing former teammates including Kayla, Logan faces him only to get beat with his bone claws broken. That’s when Stryker finally begins the procedure to replace his bones with Adamantium.
Although it got worse as the franchise went on, the origin scene already rewrites a lot of what happened in X2. Instead of doctors with needles, painful looking drills are inserted into Logan’s skin. As he heals, Stryker recommends wiping his memory, but that only makes Wolverine angry. His resulting claws look awful in ultra shiny CGI. Which only get worse when he stays with a sweet farm couple and comically fumbles around in the bathroom. Zero assassinates the couple, leading to an overblown helicopter chase on a motorcycle with a green screen explosion in the background. Logan then meets up with Wraith (for some reason played by Will.i.am) to get answers. Instead he leads him to the now morbidly obese Blob. Kevin Durand fits the fat suit and it’s fun to see the Mutant brought to life, but there’s no reason for him to be in the movie.
Just like there’s no reason for a young Cyclops to be captured by Stryker. Even a young Storm nearly had a cameo. But it’s not as bad as how they waste Gambit. Another fan favorite X-Men that they threw in because he wasn’t used in the X-Men trilogy. Taylor Kitsch has a weak Cajun accent, a simple trench coat, bõ staff, and eyes that only turn red when he uses his exploding cards. Too bad we’ll never see that Gambit movie. After a brief rematch with Victor, Wolverine fights Gambit in an overly cheesy CGI duel. Gambit agrees to fly Logan to Stryker’s island where he’s secretly working on a Mutant with several powers combined. A betrayed Logan leaves when Kayla is revealed to have been under Stryker’s control, but he returns to face Victor when he attacks. What’s worse is Kayla did it for her sister Emma. A terribly inaccurate take on Emma Frost who simply has diamond skin. The rest of the Mutants are freed and Professor X makes an unexpected cameo. With an even more unconvincing CGI facelift on Patrick Stewart.
The climax is one of the worst in superhero movie history. When Deadpool is revealed to be a shirtless Weapon XI with a grab bag of powers, katana’s in his arms, and a freaking sewn mouth. Because everyone knows the Merc with a Mouth’s worst quality is talking. I’ve come to expect inaccurate costumes in X-Men movies, but Fox completely butchered Deadpool. Thankfully he was redeemed several years later. Wolverine and Sabretooth team up to fight Weapon XI on a nuclear tower. Where Wolverine finally chops its head off never to be seen again. Expect for a sneaky after credits scene that breaks the fourth wall. Victor leaves as well and Logan carries a wounded Kayla to safety. Until Stryker shoots him with Adamantium amnesia bullets.
Putting an end to one of the worst films in the franchise. Yet I still find enjoyment in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However sanitized they are, the berserk Wolverine action is still plenty of fun. Although the MA tie-in video game is way better. Plus I wasn’t hugely familiar with niche Mutants like Deadpool or Gambit at the time. So I only began to hate those terrible decisions later on. Ironically the problem with the solo outing is the opposite of the problem with the ensembles. This is a Wolverine movie disguised as an X-Men movie and vice versa. So despite the attention to detail that Wolverine has, X-Men Origins: Wolverine can’t seem to settle on an identity.