Post-Mortem: X-men Origins

As everyone knows I’m in a kind of mourning phase for Wolverine, I’ve currently re-watched X1 and X2 and have just finished origins.

It’s generally panned as a pretty bad installment of the franchise, which is a damn shame, as Wolverine’s origin story needed to be told AND I can still remember the huge hype around this movie when it came out, Jackman was this massive (literally) star and super-hero movies as a whole were really coming into the popular phase they still remain in.

Thus Origins kinda sits as one of my biggest movie disappointments, certainly not the worst movie not by any means, but the biggest let-down, along with the likes of Elysium and Avengers 2 (Ouch sorry had to throw those in there)

Anyway catharsis for me comes in the form of over-analyzing and ‘fixing’ stories…

For a first point – I actually think the first part of the movie is pretty good, aside from some poor stylistics choices (such as Wolverine being told by Sabre that he “can’t just walk away” and then literally just walking away). Wolverine’s birth is depicted, alongside his relationship with Sabre-Tooth is established, they also do a good job depicting a bloody run through history, where Wolverine is shown to start growing a conscience and concern about Sabre’s blood thirstiness.

The basic character beats go along the lines of:

  • Wolverine grows a conscience and walks away from a life of violence
  • He gets a lady, but after refusing an offer to return to the squad his lady his killed by Sabre-Tooth
  • He fights Sabre but loses
  • Embittered he agrees to the weapon X program in order to gain the awesomeness to defeat Sabre-Tooth

Ironically somewhat like Wolverine’s life the movie steadily falls of the rails once he get adamantiumized.

I’m not 100% up to play on the comics, but I believe the reason for Wolverine breaking out and destroying the facility was that the process of erasing his memories sent him into a berseker rage. In this movie he ‘hears’ Striker say to erase his memories, resulting in him breaking out, slashing the compound to bits and so forth.

Now this is a relatively minor bug-bear but its a crucial moment in the film so deserved more attention. Wolverine’s goal at that point was to co-operate with the procedure so that would git gud enough to kill Sabre. Yes hearing that Striker wanted his memory erased would be enough to make him struggle out of his tank, but it seems a little much for him to then trash the place immediately and escape, vowing to kill Striker after Sabre-Tooth (alright throughout the film he is referred to as Victor, but I’ve started saying Sabre)

It’s also rather alarming how quickly Striker decides to try and kill Wolverine, he’s just spent huge cascades of money on the project, knows that he is neigh invincible and still has other ways of manipulation available (i.e. both Logan’s not-dead girlfriend and Sabre himself) instead he tries hard to kill Wolverine and escapes to continue his Deadpool project.

In my humble opinion it would have made for better drama to have had Striker plan a little more carefully, and perhaps reveal Silverfox as this would confuse Wolverine causing him to despair about the relationship but perhaps forgive Sabre-tooth, leaving him vulnerable to his ‘brother’ convincing him to return to the program. It would make more sense as Striker has shown himself to be in general a master manipulator.

The big problem with this section of the movie is that the character beats just end really, we see Wolverine get progressively more annoyed as he realizes that Striker and Sabre have been in league, mostly though we just see Wolverine looking for Striker through encounters with various mutants (Cue terrible Gambit). Wolverine is supposed to have a ‘berserker rage’ not be a Jason Bourne type gathering intel before finding the bad-guy.

The final climax becomes a mess of character development and ridiculous action. Wolverine confronts Striker (easily I might add, where are his guards and whatnot) who then chooses to reveal the not-dead girlfriend. This ‘saddens’ Wolverine who decides to leave the facility and stand around outside for a bit.

I think this was the low point for me, antics of Gambit aside. We’re supposed to be seeing a tense confrontation with a character who has embraced his animal side and heĀ walks outside for a while??

The beats from there are something like:

  • Sabre confronts Striker about letting Wolverine go (he’s right outside dude)
  • Silverfox alerts Sabre to Striker being manipulative (you don’t say)
  • Sabre attacks Silverfox
  • This makes Wolverine return (after whipping his shirt off) and fight VICTOR
  • Wolverine wins and we see a battle of his character between Sabre who tells him to kill him and embrace the animal and Silverfox who tells him no to

That final beat isn’t too bad in the sense that character conflict is the central tension. The problem is that a. Wolverine isn’t really that berserk, and he has just found out that the reason he wanted to kill Sabre has gone.

This probably would have been waaaay too controversial for the film but it would have been way more tense if Wolverine attacked his not-dead girlfriend while Sabre encouraged him and she tried to talk sense (although she does have mind-trick powers so its a little unfair)

Wolverine unsurprisingly does not kill Sabre, the plot rushes on with various complete illogics (like Wolverine deciding to climb a massive chimney stack to escape Deadpool, even though he can’t get away or fight him either form up there) somehow guards show up after the children are rescued (always the children in X-men films) and why on earth does Gambit show up again?

The strangest thing about X-men Origins is it really is a full embrace of CGI enhanced mutant powers, its the super-hero film we all thought we wanted after more toned down comic-book films but realized we didn’t. Its hard to believe just how contrasted this film is with Logan which in many respects make the whole saga an brilliant achievement (it would have awful if Logan was more of the same)

 

 

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