It's time for Fishing in the Discount Bin once again, where I blog about one of the many, many movies I own. I'm heading through the X-Men franchise right now, and we arrive at the first of the Wolverine solo films X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This is originally in my notes at June 29, 2014.
Once upon a time, not long ago, I'd spend a lot of time hanging out in the office of my college newspaper, with my best friend, who was the editor at the time. And he'd regale me with summaries of this comic he loved called "X-Men." It was hoped that, someday, the X-Men would make it to the big screen. "Actually, what I'd like to see," said my friend, "is an epic Wolverine movie that explains his origins once and for all, which ends with him joining the X-Men. And then the X-Men movie would be the sequel."
Actually, reflecting on that as I typed those words, that'd probably be a good way to make X-Men movies in the future, and rip off The Avengers. You have all these great solo adventures for X-Men characters, they all have a little post-credits stinger where Professor X shows up, a la Nick Fury, offering the mutant an invitation for "the special X-program" at his School for the Gifted. And then, every few years, we're treated to an X-Men film.
Anyway, my friend also told me in the early 2000s that, following the success of X-Men at the box office, Marvel felt it was finally time to tell Wolverine's origin in the comics. "We have to do it before Hollywood beats us to it," was the reasoning in the Marvel offices.
Sadly, we didn't get the Wolverine origin film first. We got it after the first trilogy of films had concluded. And you can tell that the studio really didn't know what to do after the original trilogy was done. There is an air of, "Uhh...now what?" hanging over the film. Doing a Wolverine solo film made the most sense, seeing as to how he's the most beloved character and all. And finally explaining his origin...well, as they knew in the Marvel offices, that's a story that Hollywood would eventually want to tell.
It's like I said last time...with the third film running down a checklist of all the cool stuff the fans wanted to see. With X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it's almost like they said, "Umm...what else was on that list?"
Wolverine's origin story? Check.
Deadpool? Why not?
Hey, wasn't there a scene for the first movie that we never filmed where Cyclops discovers his powers in high school? Toss that in.
It really does feel like the leftovers...the scraps that never got put into the other films that they tried to cobble a movie out of.
Maybe I'm being too harsh. When I first saw it in the theatre, I did a double-feature day and saw it right after I saw the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Star Trek has always been my first and biggest fandom, and I thought the 2009 reboot was fan-freakin-tastic. So seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine right after...it just paled in comparison.
But then, watching it again this afternoon, it still pales. You know they're trying hard, but everything just makes you go, "meh."
A few highlights, though. Liev Schreiber did pretty good as Sabertooth, I thought. While he may not have been able to pull off the physical size, he did pretty good at capturing the menace. Danny Houston as the young William Stryker is also good, if it is a bit of a stock character as the sinister military officer with a sinister agenda.
Did you know it had two separate post-credit stingers? Apparently the second one was quickly filmed and added when there was that huge scandal about the film getting leaked to the Internet. The first one - which I didn't see until the DVD - features Deadpool crawling out of the rubble of the final battle, which would have teed up the Deadpool solo film...which we're still waiting for. The second one - the one that was hurriedly filmed and that I saw in the theatre - has Wolverine doing shots in a bar in Japan, which was originally supposed to tee up The Wolverine.
I also find it notable in that it's the first superhero film I heard name-checked in the bonus features for another superhero film. On the running commentary for Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap's director Joe Johnston talked about how they wanted to make Steve Roger's transformation into Captain America different from Wolverine's transformation in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Whereas Wolverine's birth was meant to look all dark and clandestine, Johnston set out to make Cap's birth like "the moon landing." Just something that caught my ear.
It's just...with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it feels like they ran out of ideas. So you can understand why they went with a reboot for the next film.