Doom and Doomer:
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

DOOM DeLUISE: So Wolverine came out on Friday, and I think it’s safe to say that most people had some serious reservations about it, considering all the negative reviews the bootleg had received. Now that you’ve had a few days to think about it, what’s your general reaction to the movie?

JIM DOOM: Well I think it’s worth stating that I had extremely low expectations for this, based on X-Men 3, the previews I’d seen, the reviews that I’d read and my attitude toward Wolverine’s origin. I thought X-Men 3 was terrible; the previews made this look like it was basically going to just be another X-Men superhero team movie when it’s supposed to be about Wolverine’s origin – which I’d consider more “black ops” oriented; the reviews I’d read criticized what they saw as excessive attempts to inject humor in the movie, which I hate; and I always thought one of the best things about Wolverine was the mystery surrounding his past.

So I was pleased based on these factors — I thought it was a lot better than X-Men 3, and I’d actually put it somewhere between X2, which I thought was great, and X-Men 1, which I thought was just good enough for what it needed to be as the first big superhero movie. It also was based on more of the black ops stuff than I feared it would be, even though they took a lot of liberties with the stuff I liked from the comics. I also wasn’t bothered at all by any of the attempts at humor — at least none that I can think of off the top of my head — and I laughed several times, even when I was supposed to.

I think overall, I just came away with a feeling of relief. It wasn’t the Wolverine movie I would’ve made, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

I realize I covered a lot of bases there, so I hopefully I didn’t get ahead of where you wanted to be.

DOOM DeLUISE: No, that’s fine. My expectations were about the same as yours, from what it sounds like. I debated whether or not to even go see this or just wait for the DVD. Overall, when I first left the theatre, I was not pleased with the final product. I thought there were several parts where I laughed when it was supposed to be a serious scene, like when Wolverine wakes up screaming from a bad dream, or when Silverfox tells the story of the moon and the trickster and the wolverine. That was just hard to sit through. But those are just a few examples.

Furthermore, I have this arbitrary rule where if a movie does a flashback to a scene from twenty minutes ago, I decide to automatically hate the movie, since I find that incredibly condescending and insulting to the audience.

But, after a few days, I’ve softened on my criticism, and the more I think about it, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been, and I found myself going easier on it. It’s a tough movie to hate, since it’s about Wolverine, and Sabretooth was awesome. So, no, I didn’t hate it. I just think it could’ve been way, way better.

JIM DOOM: In no way do I think it was a perfect movie. I usually try to distinguish my criticism of “What I would have done differently” from “What they chose to do but didn’t do well.” I could go on and on about what I would have done differently, but in terms of what they tried to do but didn’t do well, I’d put the multiple “Wolverine looks up to the sky and screams” shots right up toward the top. I also quickly tired of the multiple “Wolverine growls and runs at Sabretooth; Sabretooth growls and runs at Wolverine; Sabretooth starts hopping like a rabbit” sequences.

I also think it’s worth pointing out the logical flaw in faking Silver Fox’s death. Stryker had the power over her — she had to help him because he had her sister captive. So she had incentive to participate. But there was no reason whatsoever to fake her death. Stryker and Sabretooth were clearly cast as characters who would kill someone for convenience. There was no reason to keep her alive other than to dramatically enter the scene when Wolverine confronts Stryker. But they kind of painted themselves into that corner by changing so much about Silver Fox’s origin, because losing her — and then realizing so much of it was a lie — is an important part of Wolverine’s past, and I actually give them credit for trying to include that even if it created problems elsewhere in the plot.

But saying “Silver Fox” reminds me of another thing I actually really liked about the movie. There was very little use of superhero code names. I don’t think that Victor was ever called Sabretooth, was he? Wade Wilson was only referred to as Deadpool once. I don’t think Silver Fox was ever called Silver Fox. The Blob’s name was part of a joke (which I actually laughed at). I really liked that — it seemed to be a nod to the intelligence, or at least sophistication, of the audience. That’s not something you can usually take for granted in modern comic book adaptations.

DOOM DeLUISE: Good point. I also enjoyed that touch.

There were several logical flaws in the movie. Like, why did Sabretooth kill some of the mutants and then round up some of the other ones? What was the point of him killing Charlie? To convince Wolverine to agree to the adamantium treatment? Maybe. But then why did they immediately try to kill Wolverine after the treatment? Why didn’t they at least ASK him to join their crew?

JIM DOOM: I think they killed Charlie because he was lame and had no place in the tougher Weapon X. I assume Sabretooth got his DNA like he got Will.I.Am’s, so Charlie served his purpose. Sabretooth was obviously still useful as a soldier.

After the breakup of the gang, Stryker’s objective changed. And I think they tried to kill Wolverine after the treatment because he clearly wasn’t going to be cooperative and because they got his DNA.

DOOM DeLUISE: But if they were just taking their DNA, why didn’t they take Cyclops’ DNA and just let it be at that? Why’d they have to bring some of the people to their island? Couldn’t they have just taken all the DNA without having the prison?

JIM DOOM: Yes, and so I think the island was stupid. It was almost like someone forced them to include future generations of mutants and that was the best plot device they could come up with in order to do that. I think I would’ve liked the movie more without the contrived efforts to include Scott and Emma, though I thought they did a decent job of trying to show him learning to become a leader by stepping up when he was needed.

DOOM DeLUISE: Indeed. What are some of the things, specifically, that you thought they did well with this movie, other than the things you’ve already said? Which characters did you think they depicted particularly well?

JIM DOOM: Well, I’ve thought since X-Men 1 that Hugh Jackman was born to play Wolverine. And Liev Schreiber was fantastic as Sabretooth. I thought both of those guys nailed their parts. And I loved what I’d maybe describe as a guilty pleasure of Logan muttering “god dammit” and “Jesus Christ” and conveying his whole “I’m a century too old for this crap” attitude. I thought, comedically, that was played perfectly.

So in that context, the Blob joke still makes me laugh even thinking about it. It’s like God dammit, I’m trying to figure out this problem, and I have to deal with this idiot. As far as comedy relief in a semi-serious action movie goes, I’d put it 180 degrees from giant transforming robots hiding behind trees.

I also appreciated how they quite clearly tried to put this in the same world as the X-Men movies. I like Marvel’s efforts at building a cohesive universe with their movies. Because they obviously didn’t have to. X-Men 3 could very easily end the X-franchise, so this could’ve been treated as a reboot of sorts.

DOOM DeLUISE: I agree with you on that. I think the way they handled Deadpool was pretty cool, even though I don’t really like the concept of giving him so many powers in order to have this super mutant. And I also disliked how they sealed his mouth up to make him more of a badass. Reading Deadpool comics is fun because the guy’s so funny. So at the start of the movie, I was digging his comedic wise-cracking. Could’ve lived without the huge wire stunts that he did, but character-wise, he worked. Still, on the whole, I think they did a good job with him.

I’ve read a lot of nerds complaining about how they gave him powers he never had in the comic and didn’t have the right suit for him, but I didn’t mind that. I rarely care if they change things in the movies, because it’s their own take on the characters, and I’m okay with that.

JIM DOOM: I didn’t feel like he needed all the powers, but I actually really liked how they used the multi-powered soldier to justify the name “Deadpool.” I don’t know if that comes from the comics at all, since I’ve always kind of hated the character, but I loved it in the movie. I also didn’t care that he sealed his mouth because I thought it was a good nod to the beginning when he commented about him being the perfect soldier. That would’ve been better if Wolverine hadn’t spelled it out, though.

The big thing I didn’t like was that he had freaking swords embedded in his arms. That obviously wouldn’t work, considering he’d never be able to bend his elbows if his swords were sheathed. I don’t think it’s a huge deal to make him have to carry them, or just give him claws or whatever.

I thought that was unnecessarily dumb. But I guess if Wolverine can bend his wrists with his claws sheathed, Deadpool should be able to bend his elbows with 3-foot swords inside.

Hey — quick trivia question for you. What was the first movie in which Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman starred together?

DOOM DeLUISE: Kate and Leopold?

JIM DOOM: Dangit. I thought that would be harder.

DOOM DeLUISE: Oh, that was a joke. Which one played Kate?

JIM DOOM: Maybe because I’ve never seen Kate & Leopold, so I didn’t know that.

DOOM DeLUISE: I’ve never seen it, either. That was a complete shot in the dark. Didn’t know that at all.

JIM DOOM: So anyway, back to Wolverine. I was hoping that Sabretooth was going to get an adamantium bullet to the brain also to explain the apparent lobotomy that happened before X-Men 1.

DOOM DeLUISE: Did they ever refer to Sabretooth as Victor in X-Men 1? Maybe they’re just gonna pretend they’re complete different characters.

JIM DOOM: Or conversely, they never referred to Victor as Sabretooth in Wolverine. I guess that’s not necessarily conversely.

DOOM DeLUISE: Did you stay after the credits to see the final scene?

JIM DOOM: Yeah. When the lady took our tickets, she actually said “There’s a scene after the credits.” So I was expecting something a lot more substantial.

DOOM DeLUISE: I didn’t get that advice, so I left after the credits started rolling. The friends I went with didn’t even say anything to me about it afterward, even though I’d been standing outside waiting for quite some time. It wasn’t until the next day that I heard about it and looked it up on YouTube. I’m glad I didn’t have high hopes for that stupid thing.

JIM DOOM: So you want to know one of the things I liked best about that movie?


JIM DOOM: It’s a little inaccurate to say it’s about the movie, but let me preface the answer by saying that I’ve lost almost all admiration for the character of Wolverine. He’s ridiculously overexposed, and I feel like he’s lost almost all of the qualities that made him awesome to me as a kid — he’s hardly a loner, his past has been explained, and worst of all, he knows his past.

But I really liked him when I was a kid, and so cynical old Jim Doom just attributes that to Wolverine being a dumb character that kids would like because he has claws, is an anti-hero who appeals to anti-establishment pre-teens, and is fun to draw.

But this movie reminded me of why I actually liked Wolverine in the first place. I feel like I was kind of lucky, relatively speaking, to have gotten into comics when I did. I remember being introduced to Wolverine in books like the Japan miniseries, in Uncanny X-Men issues like the Mutant Massacre and Australia period, and then later in the Weapon X Barry Windsor Smith miniseries and its implications in Wolverine’s solo book during the Larry Hama / Marc Silvestri days and the X-Men issues with the old black ops Wolverine / Sabretooth / Maverick team.

And so this movie has reminded me that Wolverine used to be a pretty awesome character who starred in some great comics, and it’s made me pretty excited to go back and re-read a lot of those stories.

None of which is the Wolverine Origin miniseries, for the record.

DOOM DeLUISE: Yeah, I hear ya. That Wolverine Origin miniseries was dumb.

JIM DOOM: So anyway, while I feel like the movie had some definite problems, none of them were enough to make me dislike the movie. My experience was definitely aided by my extremely low expectations, but I think this needs to be judged in terms of how it worked as a part of the X-Men franchise. The filmmakers clearly set out to make a film that would fit in with the X-trilogy, and they did it. A mature attempt at making some kind of Dark Knight-esque version of a Wolverine movie wouldn’t have fit with the trilogy.

That said, there’s nothing about making a straightforward superhero movie that requires the overuse of the upward-facing scream; there was no need to place the film so close to the present that it could have a Scott Summers subplot. I also thought the inclusion of Gambit was a bit silly, particularly because he’s a rich character for future movies, but a modern-day X4 would have to put his character at least in his 40s, wouldn’t you think?

Point being, acknowledging what the filmmakers were intending explains some of the choices, but it doesn’t justify the worst ideas. The most important metric with which to judge this movie, in my opinion, is in how they handled Wolverine and Sabretooth. And on that measure, I find it pretty hard to complain.