Roadkill Revisited: X-Men Origins - Wolverine

In a new segment I like to call 'Roadkill Revisited', I ventured into the recent past and dug out the 2009 bore-fest-meets-desperate-money-grab of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Looking to reexamine the worthy yet greatly flawed superhero origin tale of one of the biggest superheroes in Hollywood -- nearly seven years after this abomination entered the lore of the steadily-growing X-Men film series -- I'm resurfacing this goldmine of cheesy theatrics and wasted star-power to give you some of the best and worst elements that came out of this forgetful prequel. Has the film gotten any better over the last seven years? Barely. But are there some redeeming qualities among the film's mushy retelling? Let's find out.

"Ooh! Shiny."
When I first heard that this coveted prequel depicting the origin of the clawed antihero Wolverine was set to release, I would say I was at a point in my life where any superhero film was a treasure to me. Following up countless other superhero flicks -- some better than others -- such as 2008's Iron Man and 2003's Daredevil (as well as a decent trilogy of X-Men films), this curious project looked like it was set to deliver one of the most unique origin tales in superhero cinema. With a vicious lead character, played fluently now by Hugh Jackman, and a motley crew of new mutants at their disposal, what in God's name happened to this movie? Ambitious in its premise -- offering up an action-packed origin set against an emotional epicenter -- X-Men Origins: Wolverine was ultimately reduced to nothing more than an overdone and over-saturated superhero flick with a half-baked love story shoved into the middle. Suffering from lacking character development, overly-mushy romantics with characters we had little emotional connection with in the first place, and a clichéd revenge tale played out to an underwhelming conclusion, looking back, there was far more wrong with this film than there was right. Nonetheless, I'll first run down the positives of this slacking Wolverine origin.

The Good: Kicking off the film well with a quick run-through of Logan aka Wolverine's cultured -- and violent -- past through nearly ever major war since the 1800s, one of the most memorable scenes in the film had to be its opening credits. Depicting the brotherly bond between Logan and Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), as well as their savage exploits during the battles, this brief montage offers up an intriguing peek inside the history of Wolverine. While it's all mostly over-washed to lead up to a 1970s Wolverine working alongside a crack team of mutant mercenaries, this minor peek into the famous mutant's lengthy lifetime ultimately still remains one of the small highlights of the film...even if we don't get to see a World War II-era Wolverine until 2013's The Wolverine. 

Among its poorly-produced computer animation and dry dialogue, another highlight of this film was its action sequences. From its stylized team take-down at the film's beginning to the explosive fight between Wolverine and his bike versus a helicopter, even in its muddled CGI action, the fight sequences were pretty gripping. From the hand-to-hand stab-fest between Logan and Victor Creed to Remy LeBeau aka Gambit's (Taylor Kitsch), while the action may be a bit commonplace and rudimentary at times, it was still awesome to see Wolverine kick some ass.

While the way they might interact in the film can come off a bit cliché or eye-rolling at times, there are a number of characters in the film that I heavily enjoyed. While they definitely weren't as fine-edged as I wanted them to be, the characters of Kitsch's Gambit, Schrieber's Victor Creed, and even will.i.am's teleporting John Wraith all stood out to me alongside Jackman's Logan. While Jackman delivered his typical rage-meets-sarcastic performance as Wolverine, slicing and dicing as he does, the included members of Kitsch, Schrieber, and will.i.am brought an ounce of something new to the film, ultimately keeping the film rolling in its bleak plot. As for Ryan Reynolds' Wade Wilson...well, that's another story.

The Bad: Trapped within a commonplace narrative and equipped with a crew of dry characters, X-Men Origins: Wolverine ultimately fell victim to a number of franchise-killing downfalls. While Wolverine as a character was never truly knocked out of his violent alignment in the X-Men film series, I can't say the same for his friends. Immediately tossing us a colorful cast of mutants and government scumbags alike, from Danny Huston's recurrent antagonist of William Stryker to Lynn Collins' forgetful love interest to Jackman's Logan, one of the many things this movie lacks is good character development. Easily typecasting its characters in typical action movie fashion, from the comic relief to the sinister villain pulling the strings behind the curtain, the film lacked the emotional involvement it needed to make me care about any of its characters. Even with the most unique of mutant abilities -- from shiny claws to magic playing cards -- not a single character allowed me to emotionally invest in their motivations, mainly because most of them were just there to trade punches.

Along with the lack of growth within the cast of this film, I can't go without pointing out another major flaw involving one particular cast member, a cast member doomed to life of crappy comic-book film entries -- up until just recently. Yeah, you know who I'm talking about, and if you don't, well you probably don't really care too much about comic books. Or cliché villains. First name, Dead, last name, Pool. Well, actually it's just one name. And his real name is Wade Wilson. Now, at my spry age of eleven when this film came out, I didn't give a damn who Deadpool was, nor did I know a thing about him. But after at least a good year of studying up on the character, and hearing all the bitching over how this film got him wrong, I gladly agree. Almost. Yes, while the end product of "Deadpool" in this film is a complete nightmare for any comic fan (as well as anyone questioning how his arms bend with a sword jabbed up inside them), the character of Wade Wilson -- played to his best ability by Ryan Reynolds -- at the time wasn't all that bad. Funny, sarcastic, a complete asshat -- just minus the meta-humor he deserved to be spitting -- the merc with the mouth we know and love just didn't meet the fate he deserved.


Now, before I go into a major rant on how Deadpool was so messed up in this film -- something nearly every fan noticed (or should have noticed) by now -- let me changed the subject to yet another bad aspect of this film. Aside from the bad CGI -- from Wolvey's claws to most of the action in the film -- another noticeable flaw in the film had to be its very run-of-the-mill revenge plot. While the story does begin on a decent note, throwing a tormented Logan into a murdering crew of crooks with their own ulterior motives, once we find Wolverine snuggling up with a bland love interest in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, things get a bit predictable. Bad guys come back to warn Logan. Evil sibling is out on a killing spree. Someone "dies". Logan hunts them down. While it was somewhat refreshing to see the X-Men staple character Wolverine show some heart and tussle with someone other than Magneto, the plot of the film ultimately dissolved into one that became too predictable for its own good.

The Verdict: Chock full of stereotypical characters, predictable plot points, and a sliver of something refreshing and new, looking back on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you could say it was the Fantastic Four of 2009. Yeah, the one from last year that nobody liked. Containing an ounce of potential wrapped up in a dreary plot with even drearier characters, Origins attempted to sell audience on a half-baked origin for a character the filmmakers didn't complete put all their effort into perfecting. Still the face of the X-Men franchise (until Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique gets her hand on the wheel), Wolverine's consistent charisma -- and fiery rage -- was just enough to sell me on this film all those years ago. So, is X-Men Origins worth another watch? I'd say yes (if there's nothing else on TV). Does the film even exist in the X-Men timeline anymore? No, not unless you want it to. But do you really?


Did you like this post? Is it a good or bad thing dredging up a bad movie and making it look somewhat better than it was? Let me know your thoughts on X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the comments below, and let me know what flawed film you'd like me to revisit next.            

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