(2009) dir. Gavin Hood
What an un-great title for a movie: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You know, that would have been pretty lousy title for a comic book. All it indicates is branding and that this is a series of stories that go back to tell the “origin” of a superhero from the X-men team of characters from The X-Men comic books. In other words, it is a title that serves clarity and marketing over anything more artistic or interesting. Which is why suck a lousy title might yet be apt for such a film as this.
Really, what Marvel Comics and their film production side managed to do with successes around their Spider-Man and X-Men franchises was notable at the time. I’ve noted it before, that their biggest success with X-Men (2000) was casting Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, their most-beloved character from the comic books, going a step further than “just not screwing it up” and actually getting it pretty right. They carried this over into X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), though watering down the qualities, especially with the latter film, a sloppy piece of crap compared to the marginally above-average first two films. And it was only a matter of time before Jackman got a film all to himself (so to speak).
If anything, it’s a little surprising that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is actually an improvement on X-Men: The Last Stand, especially given the negative reviews that the film received. I mean, it’s not a great film, not even by comic book adaptation standards, but it does merit from the casting of Liev Schrieber as Jackman’s brother, the character of Sabretooth, a big step up from the version played by Tyler Mane in the first X-Men movie. Enough at least to give relative weight to the Biblical-esque love-hate relationship between the siblings.
For me, who left the X-Men comics behind in the 1980’s, a lot of the “origin” story was new, elaborated upon from earlier suggestions and mysteries in the comics over the years. And while much of the story is hokey as hell (or all of it for that matter), there is relative reward in understanding the “story” such as it is.
For me, this is the kind of entertainment that can’t hardly go wrong on DVD. If I’d paid to see this in the theater, I might well have felt differently overall, which is what I did with the X-Men: The Last Stand, unfortunately.
It’s all product, all marketing, all building more groundwork for sequels and spin-offs, for which this film already has several in the works. With comic books, at least in the old days, there was a series and you could follow it. Since I stopped collecting/reading these comics, though they did it before to an extent, there are so many fractured variations and products along these product lines that I wouldn’t even know where to start to find their tropes. I think they’ve splintered the main series jillions of times, offering various re-namings. Maybe in that case it justifies this “branding titling” “X-Men Origins:” if it’s so hard to know the full bore of the product line.
Hardly a pure thing in anyone’s version of filmmaking, adaptations of existing narratives from pre-existing forms, but still… They could attempt to aim a little higher.