Following the success of the X-Men trilogy, lead actor Hugh Jackman who had gone from a veritable nobody to an A-List star was given his own spin-off film. X-Men Origins: Wolverine directed by Gavin Hood of Tsotsi fame, was a moderate success taking $373m from a budget of $150m. Its success was probably harmed by a pirate copy of the film being distributed on the internet before post-production had been completed. Early reports from those who had seen the film were not positive, potentially causing a dip in box office receipts.
After a harrowing childhood experience James Howlett and half-brother Victor Creed experience warfare together inWorld War II, Korea and Vietnam. In 1973, an adult Creed (Liev Schrieber) is accused of assaulting a woman and Logan (Hugh Jackman) defends him. After being shot by a firing squad, the two remain alive and a taken to join a secret operation called Weapon X. Given codenames of Wolverine and Sabertooth, the two men are retrained and sent on covert missions.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a retread of the characters’ origin story touched upon in X-Men 2 focusing on events leading up to the adamantium endoskeleton being fused and giving Logan his metallic claws. It made sense from a character point of view, because it allows the use of other characters from the Marvel Universe and remains Wolverine’s most iconic storyline.
Sadly the direction and design does not give the story enough credibility. Characters leap around, obviously on wires and the whole film feels more like a poor Cirque du Soleil. The actually narrative is all over the shop too, with no emotional pathos outside of the opening scenes and pacing that has moments of pointless action drowning out any real attempts at characterisation.
This is not to say that there aren’t moments of fun to be had in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but most of these rely on the strong chemistry between Jackman and Schrieber and they’re time together is limited. The rest of the supporting cast are disappointing and notably for fans of the comic books, one of the more popular characters is completely botched.
Fans have waited for the appearance of Cajun thief and all-round ladies man Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) since the very first film, but having been removed for being too similar to Wolverine, when he is introduced it’s in a subpar supporting role, despite what looked on paper to be perfect casting. The same can be said of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) whose early scenes show the character at his wise-cracking best, but he is promptly removed and almost forgotten before being wasted in one final humiliation that leaves him unable to speak. Why have Reynolds if he can’t speak?
It’s missteps and poor decision-making that cost X-Men Origins: Wolverine from fulfilling its potential. It should have been a blistering, adventurous and fun instalment in the film story of one of the most popular comic book characters. It is instead a rather tedious, mundane and silly affair, with a messy script and some over-the-top (not in a good way) action scenes.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)