I’ve never been a huge fan of Marvel comics. Let me start with that. As a kid growing up in Breese, Illinois I would take my meager earnings to the local soda shop (at least it was an old soda shop turned into a sort of convenience store without the gasoline in my mind) and buy the latest issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-heroes or The New Teen Titans, Batman, anything that had to do with that universe. Marvel Comics never did it for me. Being the obsessive, compulsive I’ve always been, though, I studied the history of the Marvel heroes as much as I did the DC heroes. By age 10 I could tell you the secret identify of all the major heroes in both universes. Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner were all names as familiar to me as Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Diana Prince, Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, and Hal Jordan.
Then the Hollywood brain trusts started learning that Summer Blockbuster movies could be made, earning millions if not billions of dollars, from old comic heroes. Richard Donner’s Superman was the first example of this. Batman was the next franchise to be cashed in on. Marvel Comics eventually entered the cinemania and brought audiences Spiderman, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and Iron Man. The Spiderman franchise has produced three blockbuster movies with more to follow, even if the lead actor doesn’t. You don’t stop the train for actors to get on or get off, you slow down and then full steam ahead with the new guy or gal. The X-Men franchise has given us three movies. Fantastic Four gave us two, The Hulk gave us two, and Iron Man is on it’s way to finishing its second. Rumors have an Avengers movie to be made along with a handful or others, but do the movies start just getting the comic book geek or can they produce true Hollywood gold?
I wasn’t overly ready for X-Men Origins: Wolverine when I went to see it. The character of Wolverine was strong enough to carry a full-length film. That wasn’t why I was hesitant. The first three X-Men movies impressed me for their dedication to the original material. I mean they weren’t reminiscent of the first issues of X-Men but they did capture the heart and spirit of the X-Men, in my opinion. So, it wasn’t prejudice over not liking the previous films, they were fine. It wasn’t the cast of the film, they all sounded like great choices and, I hate to admit it, I have a strange love/hate thing going with Hugh Jackman. So that wasn’t it. The real reason is because I don’t want to like Marvel Comics or their characters, but I can’t help myself.
The opening sequence, for those of you who have not seen it, gave enough material that several movies could be made. Those moments establish the relationship between Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) and James “Logan” Howlett (Hugh Jackman). Spoiler Alert: They fight side by side, brothers, in the wars of our nation; the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam until Victor begins to enjoy the killing too much for James’s liking. Spoiler Alert Finished. Hugh Jackman plays the character of Howlett/Logan with an ease that makes it almost sickening. He knows this character inside and out. As Logan tires of the fighting, wanting just to go home you want to be able to help him do it. But when pushed beyond the limits of normal, you enjoy watching him take town two military vehicles and a helicopter because they deserved it for pushing him too much.
Hugh Jackman’s character of Logan is the precursor to the one we met in the original X-Men movie. This movie really does give us his origin, who he really was and how he got to the point where he joins Charles Xavier (played again in a surprise cameo by original Xavier actor Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame). Liev Schreiber’s portrayal of Victor Creed is nothing short of phenomenal. Victor is angry from the beginning of the film. A confusing relationship between two fathers, one mother and a brotherly relationship that never is fully explained, Victor wants to run and protect his brother. Eventually, the fighting gets to be his comfort. The fighting is all Victor knows. It makes him feel safe. Through the entire movie, you get the feeling that Victor truly loves his little brother, and toward the climax of the movie there is a great line delivered that sums up their relationship as he save his little brother’s life.
Some people who have only read about the movie complained to me about the inclusion of the Scott Summers character, however, when I finally did see the movie, I think they did a great job with it. Another mutant captured by the evil Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston), he never did see his champion. A much younger Scott Summers (played by Tim Pocock in this film but originally played by James Marsden)and the others were saved by Logan. In the X-Men mythology Scott “Cyclops” Summers hates Logan since both share a love for Jean Grey (played in the movies by the super hot Famke Janssen). The movies kept that plot thread and here we learn that if it wasn’t for Logan, Scott would never had a chance to grow up, join the Xavier School, or the X-Men, and would’ve never met Jean Grey. Scott owes Logan, yet neither know it. It was a great part of the story.
My wife doesn’t always like the comic book hero movies. We went to watch this together and she came out happy. It had great effects. Wonderful fight scenes. The inclusion of the Deadpool character of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) was awesome. He was a great character for this movie. Dominic Monaghan played Bolt, Kevin Durand played The Blob, Taylor Kitsch played Gambit, and Daniel Henney played Agent Zero, the team members that Victor and Logan work with for some of the film. The actors filled their roles admirably and the movie worked for me. I hate myself for admitting it but it did work for me. I recommend to anyone who is a fan of great action, tender love story, comic book heroes, or just plain fun movies to go see X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The only thing now is that I want to know what character the next X-Men Origins will cover, rumor tells me Magneto.