Anthony Stokes on what The Wolverine got right….
The Wolverine has been released to mild critical and commercial success. It’s certainly not setting the world on fire, but the general consensus seems to be “I’m glad I saw it” and “it’s okay”. As easy as it is to be cynical – and as much as I don’t like average movies – I want to be positive here and outline what I feel the movie has done correctly…
It Isn’t X-Men Origins: Wolverine
It Powered Down Wolverine
I’ve been saying for years the reason that Wolverine, Superman and the Hulk have been so hard to translate to the screen is because they’re invincible. Now, before you hunch over and furiously type “anybody who reads comic books knows Wolverine isn’t invincible” – I’ve read the comics, but that’s irrelevant here because we’re taking about the movie universe. The reason Wolverine and Hulk worked in X-Men and The Avengers is because there are other characters who can be hurt, meaning there’s tension. By making Wolverine more vulnerable, it means that the action scenes are actually interesting. It also adds a new dynamic to the character and gives Hugh Jackman more to do than scowl.
No Mutant Bingo
X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and to a significantly lesser extent X-Men: First Class had a habit of just throwing characters from the comics on screen. Which wouldn’t be a problem, had they given them any personality or characterization other than their powers, leaving anybody who doesn’t read the comics feeling cold, and those who do read the comics feeling unsatisfied. The Wolverine only brings in mutants that are essential to the story and manages to make them interesting.
It Stands On Its Own
The Wolverine takes the Iron Man 3 route of referencing and pulling in elements from previous installments only when necessary. This is great and it adds a distinctive feel. The Wolverine doesn’t feel like an X-Men movie, which is definitely a good thing, and it’s breathed some new life into the franchise.
It Got the Spirit of the Comic Right
Now I rarely feel bad for people who complain that a comic book movie is different from the comics. For me, it’s the movies the deviate from comics which are the best. X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t the worst comic book movie ever made, but wow did it miss the mark on every level as an adaptation. I almost want to start a charity for those Deadpool fans who were wronged by Fox. The Wolverine is easily Hugh Jackman’s best performance as Logan and he really captured the psyche of the character. To me, this was a pretty good interpretation of the classic Chris Claremont 1982 miniseries.
Now, while The Wolverine does a lot right, it doesn’t have that wow factor. Its biggest problem is that nothing stands out as great, but overall it’s a solid movie. There’s a charm in a big budget movie talking a smaller more intimate approach, even if its not as deep or engaging as it could’ve been. Fox has basically righted its wrongs with the X-Men franchise, in my mind anyway. The very best thing about The Wolverine is Hugh Jackman. While Robert Downey Jr. is the star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hugh Jackman is the designated driver of the X-Men universe. Even at the lowest points in the X-Men franchise Hugh Jackman has been the one consistent thing that’s good. I applaud the man for not forgetting why he’s a name and sticking with series through thick and thin. I’m glad Wolverine will be the protagonist in X-Men: Days of Future Past and I hope he plays the role until he’s no longer physically able.
Anthony Stokes is a blogger and independent filmmaker.