I finally saw the Wolverine movie for the first time last night. I realize I’m several months behind the times here, which is very odd for me since I normally try and see superhero movies the first weekend they come out, but after the initial negative hype I heard about the movie and the ridiculous previews, I decided to hold off until it was released on Net Flix. Here’s my initial take: Not as bad as people said it was, not as good as it should have been.
My main issue with the movie was they didn’t take the time to develop the characters, and every time you thought you were starting to get into some more serious character development the subject in question always died. Take for example John Wraith, as excellently portrayed by Will.I.am. John Wraith has always been one of my favorite sub-characters in the Wolverine story line and just as I thought he was about to get some time in the spotlight he gets killed by Sabertooth! The fight didn’t even make sense! Why would a guy whose only mutant power is teleporting think to get into a fist fight with Sabertooth? Teleporting or not, he’s going to get his ass kicked! In the comics Wraith was always portrayed as the brains behind the outfit, but in the movie he comes off as a guy too stupid to know that you should probably not get into a fist fight with a guy bigger than you and who has claws. (Interesting side note: Will.I.am wanted to be in the movie but only if he could play a character that could teleport. He is aware that starring in the movie doesn’t actually give you mutant powers right? If he wanted to get in on the special effects you think he would have picked a character that could fly, at least that way you get to be hoisted up in a harness!)
My second major negative point was how they tried to tie the storyline into the X Men movies. Why not tell the Wolverine story independently? Trying to connect the two movies results in too many awkward transitions and too much use of deus ex machina. Just keep them separate and let the viewer make the connection, especially since there’s almost 10 years between when Wolverine ends and the first X-Men starts. A great example of not trying to connect an origin story to present day events is ‘Eight Mile,’ which ends with Eminem simply going back to work after winning the big rap battle. Imagine how bad that movie would have been if Eminem had walked out of the club and there was a record producer waiting with a $10 million contract! Origin stories need to stop forcing the connection between the origin and the present day; just let the viewers make the connection for themselves. In superhero movies this is even more important because when you try and force a connection between the past and the present you end up introducing too many characters. The easiest way to ruin a superhero movie is to try and put in as many characters as possible. Too many spices ruins the soup and every unnecessary character you add takes away from the development of a necessary character. Just pick a small handful that are relevant to the plot and focus on them. Don’t try and cram every possible character into a single movie. In the case of Wolverine I wouldn’t have put in Gambit (who served no purpose even though I loved seeing him finally make it into a movie) or Cyclops (no purpose) or Xavier (no purpose).
That said, there were some good parts. I liked how the movie stayed true to the comics in terms of Silver Fox not really being killed by Sabertooth. Big plus there as that was always one of the main questions driving the origin storyline (see Wolverine #60-68 for the best telling of that story line) There also weren’t too many ‘groaner’ moments, although the scene with Wolverine using his claws to spin the bike looked pretty fake (note to Hollywood: Stop trying to add gimmicky effects to motorcycle scenes – they never work out and detract from an otherwise great action sequence. e.g. that stupid bike flip off the wall at the end of the motorcycle scene in dark knight) For the most part the one liners were decent too, although I do think the, ‘I’m the best at what I do,’ fell flat. Finally, I liked how the ending tried to capture the complex nature of Logan’s past although I think the whole adamantium bullet thing was a pretty cheap way of inducing memory loss.
In the end, I’m glad I finally saw the movie but it greatly benefited from me having low expectations. All in all the movie seemed more like a bunch of decent fight scenes connected together than an actual story. I applaud the attempt to stay true to the main parts of the Wolverine story lines but the attempt to connect Wolverine to X-Men simply resulted in to many unnecessary changes. There is rumor of a second one being made which will take place in Japan, which I’m assuming will be based off the 1982 4 issue run featuring Wolverine in Japan. This has some potential as that story line is one of the best Wolverine stories ever written and really shows off Wolverine’s character flaws in a way not normally portrayed. If done properly, it has a lot of potential.