Published Apr 30, 2009Despite being billed as an origin story, X-Men Origins: Wolverine doesn't pay particular focus to the early life of everybody's favourite adamantium skeleton-ed mutant. Instead, we get a glimpse into the clawed immortal's early life in an opening credit montage. Skipping past the first 80 or so years of Wolverine's life, the film acts as more of a precursor to the events depicted in the X-Men movies than a true standalone story.
After a brief introduction to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) during his childhood in late 1800s Canada, the story skips forward to the Vietnam War where he and fellow mutant Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) are recruited into a secret government organization staffed by mutants and led by William Stryker (Danny Huston).
Wolverine becomes disenfranchised with Stryker's tactics and leaves the group, retreating to rural Canada to live out his life in peace. Years later he is once again drawn in to Stryker's twisted world, where he must grow stronger in order to defeat the dangerously violent Sabretooth. The only way Wolverine can assure his victory over the like-powered mutant is by having Stryker painfully bond his skeleton with indestructible adamantum.
Hardcore comic purists will no doubt find fault with the abridged version of Wolverine's story, as well as the more notable omissions and alterations to the comic canon, but the end result is entertaining and consistent with the film versions of the Marvel universe. Melodramatic moments and expected comic book morality rear their ugly heads on a few occasions but while the film stumbles it never falls.
An all-too-brief appearance by heretofore unseen fan favourite Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), a younger incarnation of Cyclops (Tim Pocock) and a cameo by a digitally de-aged Professor X (Patrick Stewart) help tie the film to the X-Men universe while still keeping it separate from the main series.
The Wolverine character has a long and complex history, of which this film is only a variation on a chapter. While fans would of course like to see a multi-part, epic serialization of Wolverine's story, including his childhood and, more interestingly, his time in WWII with Captain America, which would help tie together the two Marvel movie properties, Hollywood budgets make such things impractical.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine makes the most out of the limitations imposed by big-budget movie-making and does a decent job within those limits. It doesn't reach the comic movie heights of X2 but, more importantly, it doesn't replicate the dismal failings of X-Men: The Last Stand. (Fox)