DOOM DELUISE: Several years ago, after the abysmal X-Men 3, Fox funded a Wolverine standalone movie, which took place prior to the events of the X-Men movies, that everybody pretty much agreed was stupid.
Somehow, though, at the same time, everybody agreed that Hugh Jackman is still a pretty great Wolverine.
Flash-forward a few years, and we have The Wolverine, another new Wolverine standalone, still starring Hugh Jackman, which takes place AFTER the events of the X-Men movies, which is still, in my opinion at least, a stupid movie.
The main difference between the two is that this is a bad Wolverine movie, whereas that last one was a bad Wolverine movie that included idiotic depictions of fan-favorite characters like Gambit and Deadpool.
But, far be it for me to be the only person with an opinion around here. Jim, how would you compare this movie to the first Wolverine movie, and how do you think this one does on its own?
JIM DOOM: Well, I remember the first Wolverine movie being awful, but not long ago, I went back and re-read my review at the time and realized I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I remembered I did.
That said, I think this new one was much better, and this one could have almost been — dare I say — a GOOD movie, if they had made one somewhat minor change.
And that would be to eliminate that stupid Viper lady.
She was just so jarringly out of place.
I realize we’re talking about mutants and adamantium skeletons and giant robots and whatnot, but what always struck me about Wolverine is that his best stories are so firmly rooted in reality.
And this movie almost had that!
But that Viper lady was so out of place. I can’t think of anything she contributed that couldn’t have easily been replaced with something more reality-based.
I absolutely agree, though — one of the first Wolverine’s major flaws was the unnecessary inclusion and misuse of so many well-known characters. Thankfully, this didn’t have that.
DOOM DELUISE: I agree with your assessment of the Viper lady. She’s more commonly referred to as Lady Hydra in this day-and-age, and part of me wonders if she’s included in this movie, even though her presence is jarring and out of place, just to make sure she doesn’t appear in any future Captain America movies. If that’s the case, I’d say, “Hey, Fox, just let ’em have her.”
JIM DOOM: Yeah, no kidding.
Yuck. Before she appeared, though, I remember catching myself and thinking “Whoa, this might end up being a good movie!”
DOOM DELUISE: Ok, with that opening assessment out of the way, what knowledge did you have, going in, of the story on which this is based, “Wolverine,” the 1982 limited series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller?
JIM DOOM: I own that book and I have read that book several times. The original series was one of the first comic stories I ever read. I also don’t remember anything about it.
DOOM DELUISE: Maybe we can just cut that part out. I haven’t read it.
JIM DOOM: Actually I think that’s relevant. Shows our perspective isn’t based on any comics purism.
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, that’s a good point. A friend of mine was complaining on Facebook because the old man dons the Silver Samurai suit in the movie, which, evidently, that character’s son is the one who dresses up in the suit in the comics, and my only reaction was, “Oh, ok.”
Those sorts of changes normally don’t bother me at all, unless it’s done for a stupid reason, like in this.
I’m more bothered by the fact that this movie, along with so many other superhero movies, speaks its own sort of language, a language that’s only spoken by superhero movies. Like, it’s all this sort of lazy shorthand that superhero movie creators use.
For instance: Instead of having the Silver Samurai be a man in combat armor, it instead borrows the “language” of the first Iron Man movie and presents a rich bald man in a giant robotic suit of armor, with a hatch that opens over his head when he wants to say something menacing.
JIM DOOM: I’m not following. How is that not also a man in combat armor?
DOOM DELUISE: Poor phrasing. By combat armor, I mean like samurai gear, yet he’s still operating under his own strength. It’s not a giant robotic machine.
They’re similar, but one is just a man wearing protective layering, while the other is a man in a mechanical construct that operates off its own source of power.
JIM DOOM: I guess I see the distinction, but considering the antagonist was a near-death man looking to artificially extend his life, he’d need an exosuit.
If it were the able-bodied son in an Iron-Man-wannabe suit, I think I’d agree more. But it was a villain whose body just wouldn’t support a simple suit of armor in old-school Silver Samurai style.
DOOM DELUISE: Right, and I’m saying, in this case, I can see the point of so-called “comic purists” who don’t like that it wasn’t the son in samurai gear, because the change seems to have been made seemingly to force the difference in the armor and make the final fight more along the lines of the final fight in Iron Man 1, since audiences are already familiar with that scenario.
It’s a shorthand way to trigger positive memories from a different superhero movie without actually earning the audience’s positivity.
JIM DOOM: Oh, ok. I actually liked the twist of it being the old man, because it really undermined all the work that had been done to build up Mariko.
DOOM DELUISE: But it’s kind of like how, in the Silver Surfer movie, the final fight was just a massive CGI cloud fighting the Fantastic Four, which we’d already seen a few times, rather than taking the steps to introduce a character like Galactus.
It’s shorthand for something the audience is already familiar with.
JIM DOOM: Wait, when else have we seen a giant cloud fighting a team? Or was that a joke?
DOOM DELUISE: Not at all.
We’ve seen it a few times. Just off the top of my head, there’s the Sandman cloud at the end of Spider-Man 3, the Dr. Doom cloud at the end of the first Fantastic Four, the Magneto-powered energy cloud at the end of the first X-Men, the Dr. Octopus magnetic cloud at the end of Spider-Man 2…
I mean, they’re not all the same, but it’s a shorthand idea that all speaks to the same idea, which people who watch superhero movies understand without even thinking, because they’ve seen variations of it before.
It makes viewing easier, nearly subconscious.
JIM DOOM: I guess I’d feel more inclined to agree if there weren’t a reason to put the old man in a big exosuit. But I thought they gave enough storyline justification for me to buy it.
DOOM DELUISE: It’s not an important point. I just thought the storyline justification was put in so that that final fight could involve the bad guy in a giant exo-suit of armor, cuz it’s easier than giving the audience something it hasn’t seen before.
JIM DOOM: What did you think of the sidekick girl?
DOOM DELUISE: I was a little surprised that she didn’t eventually become the love interest. I thought she was fine, though a bit too cartoonish, in the anime style, for me to believe her as an actual person.
Like, she just looks like a cartoon.
JIM DOOM: She annoyed the heck out of me.
But since she was written to be an outcast, I eventually became okay with it.
Our review is kind of feeling symbolic of this movie.
DOOM DELUISE: I was just thinking the same thing.
JIM DOOM: It seemed like it should be so easy to do it well, yet it’s feeling slightly underwhelming. Like we just can’t figure out how to bring it together.
Why isn’t it just a no-brainer to make an awesome movie where Wolverine fights ninjas?
There were some things I thought this movie did really well!
I was a huge fan of how it handled the parallels of World War II and the bomb and the rebuilding and beauty of Japan.
I think that’s another part of what made Viper so jarring. This movie seemed almost sophisticated in how it handled serious elements and themes almost effortlessly.
It didn’t try to draw attention to itself when serious things were happening.
It seemed so mature in that sense. And I mean mature in a complimentary way, not like dongs and boobs.
And then in the middle of all that, here’s a dumb lady who breathes fog, has a fork in her tongue, has fake skin, and puts robot scorpions inside of people?
How did that not jump out in the script stage?
DOOM DELUISE: Well, speaking of the script stage, if you recall, this was originally supposed to be written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. I wonder how much of what he started eventually made it to the screen and how much was changed after he left the project.
JIM DOOM: Oh man, I totally forgot about that! Was it ever revealed why he left the project?
DOOM DELUISE: Family issues. I think he was going through a divorce at the time.
JIM DOOM: Dammit, Mrs. Aronofsky!
Both Wolverine movies would have benefited so much by just simplifying.
Wolverine 1: Make it about Wolverine and Sabertooth. Get rid of everyone else.
Wolverine 2: Make it about Wolverine and his Japanese buddy. Get rid of that lady who is kind of like a snake.
These supporting characters and sideplots are distracting from, rather than advancing, the main story.
Wolverine is such a good character! He can make a simple plot awesome. And Hugh Jackman is so good at that character too. It’s just so unfortunate to waste him on subpar movies.
Imagine if Marvel took Wolverine movies as seriously as Warner took Batman movies.
Imagine if DC had someone as perfect for Batman as Hugh Jackman is for Wolverine, and treated Batman movies so carelessly.
Nevermind Batman & Robin, of course. Oh George.
DOOM DELUISE: It really is as simple as the question you already asked: “Why isn’t it just a no-brainer to make an awesome movie where Wolverine fights ninjas?”
The only two scenes where he actually fights a bunch of ninjas, he’s either experiencing pain for the first time and all disoriented and unable to fight, or he’s being shot through the back with arrows attached to ropes FOR SOME STUPID REASON, so he can’t stand up straight or fight properly.
It’s a complete squandering of the idea.
JIM DOOM: Imagine a Wolverine-versus-ninjas fight scene with as much care as that opening scene of X2 when Nightcrawler goes through the White House.
Or basically any Transporter fight scene.
Or basically any fight scene from any other action movie.
I mean, why didn’t he just cut those ropes?
DOOM DELUISE: He didn’t have anything to cut them with, I bet.
JIM DOOM: He should have brought some knives. Like, maybe 6 knives.
DOOM DELUISE: He’d probably have a hard time concealing that many knives.
JIM DOOM: It’s hard to find something with six pockets.
I like cargo shorts but my girlfriend makes fun of me for wearing them.
I didn’t get it until one time John Cena was wrestling in cargo shorts and she was like “Is that why you like cargo shorts? Because of John Cena?”
John Cena could have cut those ropes, because he wears cargo shorts and thus has six pockets — enough to stash six knives.
DOOM DELUISE: But is that why you wear cargo shorts?
JIM DOOM: I wonder what Japanese people think of this movie and how it portrays them. They’re either frail women or angry men, right?
DOOM DELUISE: Or soldiers who commit Harry Carey and nothing else.
JIM DOOM: They’re such simple folk!
Isn’t that basically the same characterization as Karate Kid II?
I wish this movie had “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera in it.
Or Wolverine could catch flies with the knives he hides in his pockets.
DOOM DELUISE: I wish this movie had Wolverine “honk” the Silver Samurai’s nose.
JIM DOOM: That would have been #1!
DOOM DELUISE: This movie’s not actually based on Japanese culture. It’s based off of Karate Kid II’s depiction of Japanese culture.
JIM DOOM: Yeah it really is. Were they even in Japan in KK2?
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, it takes place in Okinawa.
JIM DOOM: Oh how sweet would it have been if, during the final battle, Mariko started twirling one of those little spinny drum things?
DOOM DELUISE: I would’ve gotten chills.
JIM DOOM: Will you stay up all night sometime and splice in Wolverine 2 footage to the “Glory of Love” video (ed. note: youtube link)?
Or at least write a long blog post about how Wolverine 1 & 2 are the true Karate Kid 1 & 2 remakes?
DOOM DELUISE: What did you think of the fight on the bullet train? That was so hyped up, this movie may as well have been titled, “Wolverine and the Bullet Train.”
JIM DOOM: Oh I forgot about that fight scene.
DOOM DELUISE: Perfect answer.
JIM DOOM: I would totally go see a movie called “Wolverine & the Bullet Train.”
I liked that fight scene.
DOOM DELUISE: My biggest thing against this movie is that it takes place after X-Men 3. And it acknowledges that that movie happened.
JIM DOOM: You know, I thought X-Men 3 was a steaming turd that did a ton of damage to the franchise.
DOOM DELUISE: Same!
JIM DOOM: But I like that ol’ what’s his face is acknowledging that it happened and moving forward like “I am going to clean up this mess” rather than taking the easy route and pretending it didn’t happen.
I respect a man who takes on a challenge!
DOOM DELUISE: What a stupid challenge.
JIM DOOM: What’s his name anyway?
DOOM DELUISE: Bryan Singer?
JIM DOOM: Yeah that’s it.
DOOM DELUISE: Speaking of stupid, remember how Wolverine lost his powers in this movie?
Yet he could still take a shotgun blast to the chest.
And to think, people complain that Wolverine doesn’t have any weaknesses.
That shotgun blast totally made him look confused for a couple seconds! That’s something!
JIM DOOM: Ouch!
Let’s talk about the most important and interesting thing from this movie, and that is the credits scene.
DOOM DELUISE: Oh yeah! I almost forgot about that.
JIM DOOM: I am so excited for Days of Future Past, but then I think of things like Wolverine 1, First Class and Wolverine 2, and I think “What is the dumbest thing about each of these? The apparent obligation to throw in disposable and embarrassingly lame mutants in the supporting cast.”
And it makes me wonder, is Days of Future Past going to suffer from the same flaws? Or might it actually be as perfect as it’s shaping up to be?
DOOM DELUISE: Well, I have a few things to say about that. #1. I think it’s unfortunate that they’re building off of X-Men 3 (again). #2. If Professor X can bring himself back to life, why can’t he fix his legs?
JIM DOOM: I’m really looking forward to it!
I re-read Days of Future Past a few weeks ago and I had forgotten what a total letdown of a story it is. That is one story that really doesn’t hold up outside of its place in time.
I’m sure it was fascinating and shocking at the time, and a super compelling story, but this movie looks like they took that story, replaced Kitty Pryde with their most successful solo character, and found a way to tie the awesome X-Men First Class to their resurrected old franchise, so I’m excited about it from a storyline perspective and a utilitarian perspective too!
DOOM DELUISE: I’m getting there. I’m still skeptical, and I have been ever since they started making announcements, since they’re bringing in all sorts of elements from X3, but after seeing the new trailer, I’m excited. I think they could potentially make a really great movie here.
Anyway, to wrap this up, how about a closing statement on The Wolverine?
JIM DOOM: Wolverine 2 is better than Wolverine 1, but it still falls short. To me, its lasting value is in the credits scene, in the way it advances the X-Men universe. Pretty sad though that that’s what matters from this — a scene that could’ve just as easily been a YouTube clip.
Take Viper out of this, though, and you have a different — and much better — movie.
DOOM DELUISE: I agree that it’s better than the first Wolverine, but that’s a pretty hollow statement. I think it suffers from having a weak supporting cast, sure, but there’s just something missing from it.
I wasn’t annoyed with it the whole way through like I was with the first movie, but there’s not much to like. It alternates between being corny stupid and just flat-out stupid, which is unfortunate for fans who were just looking for a fun slice-and-dice Wolverine vs. Ninjas movie.