The X-Men franchise continued to fumble with the first Wolverine solo film.
The first two X-Men films are fantastic. They have deep meaning to them and brought the superhero films into the real world in a way that would be replicated for the next 20 years. But after some changes before X-Men: The Last Stand, the entire franchise seemed to struggle. Last Stand was a mess on every level, and the studio decided to move forward with solo features, the first of which was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, putting the ruthless Canadian mutant front and center wasn’t enough.
Wolverine has always been the poster child for the X-Men ever since his debut in the 1970’s. The films have never shied away from making him the leading man, and much of the success of the entire franchise rests on Hugh Jackman’s shoulders. There are plenty of great things about the franchise overall, but it’s Jackman’s portrayal of Logan that truly sells everything. He’s everything you could want in a superhero and a lead, and for that reason, having him in the film just makes things better.
The problem is, you can’t just have him there and expect the film to be good. You have to actually build a good story around him. You could put any beloved character on screen and people will go to see it at first, but if the story doesn’t mean anything, no one will care. That’s one of the main problems with Origins. The film acts as if all it needs is Wolverine to survive, but that’s not enough. The first X-Men films succeeded not just because they were led by Wolverine but because they were excellent films. They were layered and full of great moments for general movie-going audiences and comic fans alike.
Origins does well at first, and the montage over the opening credits showing Wolverine and Sabertooth fighting through various wars together is one of the coolest scenes in any superhero film even to date. The film still works for the most part as it builds up its revenge plot after Logan’s girlfriend is killed, but the moment they put the adamantium on Logan’s bones and fully turn him into the Wolverine we all know and love, the film becomes a mess. It’s just a hodgepodge of action sequences thrown together until the story finds some sort of conclusion.
Stryker constantly wanting to kill Logan when he knows he’s just made him unkillable makes no sense whatsoever. The twist reveal that Logan’s girlfriend was working with Stryker takes away any motivation for Logan to do anything. The relentless retreading of his girlfriend’s story about the wolverine fable to remind us fifteen times why he chose that name is annoying. Nearly every choice a character makes past Logan getting the adamantium on his bones makes zero sense.
Then the film ends with the most disappointing, dumbest climax possible: with a bastardization of Deadpool in the worst way possible and the conflict between Logan and Victor just disappearing because “Deadpool” shows up. It’s intensely infuriating, disappointing, and just unfair. The film could have been so much more and could have still retained its original elements if they had focused more on the source material or the aspects of the X-Men franchise that had been played out before.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is without a doubt the biggest disappointment in the entire series. Hugh Jackman is great in it despite everything else being horrible. Leiv Schreiber was perfection as Sabretooth, and it’s disappointing that he was never able to reprise the character. The biggest highlight to the film is the fact that it forced Fox to reassess their X-Men plans, and instead of creating an X-Men Origins: Magneto film, they turned back the clock to the ‘60s and gave us a full on restart–one that would revitalize the franchise in a big way.
Keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler as we continue to dive into the X-men Franchise ahead of Dark Phoenix. Be sure to check out Dark Phoenix when it hits theaters on June 7th, and read our reviews of the first three X-Men films at the links below.