X-Men Origins: Wolverine, by Albert W. Vogt III

If you have seen Deadpool 2 (2018), and you are a veteran of Marvel films, you will have stuck around during the credits and noticed Wolverine/Logan/Jimmy Howlett (Hugh Jackman) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) looking on as Deadpool/Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) sidles up to the earlier cinematic version of himself and shoots him in the head. Before exiting stage right, Deadpool waves to Wolverine, apologizing for the interruption to a movie he was not technically in, claims that he is just there to clean up the timelines, and avers that he is a huge fan.  The suggestion in Deadpool 2 is that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is awful.  Ryan Reynolds was, indeed, in the latter as the wise-cracking “merc with a mouth” Wade Wilson, who is later turned into Weapon XI.  More on this later.  At any rate, I had heard similar tales of how bad this film is, and I thought I would take a look for myself.  The steak I consumed while watching it was excellent.

If you read Jimmy Howlett (Troye Sivan) in the first sentence of this review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and said, “Wait, what?” you would not be alone in this sentiment.  Remember this is an origin story, but everything we had heard about the iconic member of the team of mutant heroes known as the X-Men is that his name is Logan, codenamed Wolverine.  Whatever.  So, little Jimmy is sick in bed in his family home in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  There is a raucous heard from elsewhere in the house and his father, John (Peter O’Brien), and older half-brother Victor Creed (Michael-James Olsen), go to investigate.  Jimmy is left alone, told to stay put, but goes down anyway when he hears an even louder noise.  Standing over John’s dead body is Thomas Logan (Aaron Jeffrey), the estate’s grounds keeper.  Seeing this, an enraged Jimmy finds bony claws that emerge from his knuckles, which he uses to murder Thomas.  As the life goes out of John, it is revealed that he is Jimmy’s real father.  Distraught, Jimmy runs, followed by Victor, and when the older brother catches up, he says that they must stick together.  From there, we see them as older versions of Jimmy (who decided to switch to Logan at some unseen point) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) involved in a number of American wars because running away means joining the United States Army in every major conflict from the Civil War to Vietnam.  Did I mention they are apparently immortal?  They are immortal, and quickly heal from any and all wounds.  Victor develops a sadistic joy in killing, and during their time in Vietnam he savagely murders some villagers.  This causes his fellow soldiers to step in to try to subdue Victor, with Logan siding with his half-brother.  They are then arrested and put before a firing squad.  When they do not die during their execution, they are visited by a mysterious American officer named Stryker (Danny Huston), who offers them a new way of serving their country.  This apparently means joining a group of others with special abilities and traveling around the world doing stuff.  What stuff?  You know, stuff.  One mission involves infiltrating a facility near Lagos, Nigeria, where their objective is to take a rare metal from a warlord.  Under threat of torture, he reveals to Stryker where it came from, and they head to the named village and hold it captive.  Their explanation of the metal’s source does not seem to make sense, and Stryker threatens to kill them all.  It is at this point that Logan decides that he has had enough, and walks away.  We then zoom ahead four years and Logan is living with another with special powers, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), who has the ability to persuade others to do things against their will through physical touch.  Meanwhile, we are made to think that Victor is going around and killing former members of their team.  Stryker warns Logan, but Logan refuses to come in for protection.  Eventually, Victor comes calling, and by all appearances, murders Kayla.  In the subsequent barroom brawl between the brothers, Victor ends up breaking three of Logan’s claws.  Feeling like he needs to be stronger in order to get his revenge, Logan turns to Stryker. Logan volunteers to be part of an experiment called Weapon X to bond the new metal alloy Stryker has invented, adamantium, to a skeleton, and Logan’s healing powers make him a prime candidate.  This is also where Wolverine, the codename he gives himself inspired by Kayla, gets his trademark metal claws.  As the process winds down, he overhears that they wish to wipe away his memory, so he escapes.  Now on the run, with Stryker’s men hunting him and killing a kindly couple that offers Logan assistance, he decides to look for other members of his old team.  He finds John Wraith (Will.i.am) and Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), the former of which informs Logan that Stryker has a different facility at a place known as “The Island.”  Fred, who is now The Blob (make your own deductions), also lets on that there is only one person who knows where The Island is located, a New Orleans gambler/mutant called Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch).  Remy agrees to take Logan to The Island on the condition that Logan puts an end to the experiments that Stryker is conducting on the mutants that he has captured.  Once there, it is revealed that Kayla had been working for Stryker the entire time, and that the reason he had been collecting people with special powers (including Kayla’s sister) has been in order to steal their abilities to create the ultimate weapon, Weapon XI.  This turns out to be Wade Wilson, another former teammate, who combines the powers of a number of different mutants.  Putting aside their differences, Logan and Victor team up to defeat Weapon XI.  Kayla is mortally wounded in the chaos, but manages to induce Stryker to walk away from the scene.  This commences after he has put an adamantium bullet into Logan’s skull, which is why he cannot remember any of this in future movies.  That is basically the end.

Yes, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is as bad as it sounds.  Hopefully, my description of the plot has made it sound worse.  What I mentioned in the introduction about Deadpool cleaning up the timeline says about all you need to know about the movie.  I am sure that there are those out there who wish that a Deadpool had come along before the film was made to stop it from being produced.  Yet, here it is in all its tainted glory to be seen on Disney+, at least until the character gets recast and everything changes, which seems to happen with a dizzying frequency.  In other words, why bother keeping track of any of this malarkey?  At any rate, if you find yourself stuck watching this film, and you are looking for some kind of redeeming value to which to cling in the midst of the torture, allow me to offer my Catholic insight.  Throughout the film, Victor is encouraging Logan to unleashed the animal side of the hero.  Victor revels in his primal instincts, and his larger than normal canines and finger nails give him an appearance reminiscent of his super-villain codename Sabertooth, though the sobriquet is strangely not said in the film.  Of course, God did not create us to give into such base desires.  Then again, He did not create mutants like in the movie, you know, in case you had not noticed.  I appreciate Logan’s desire to not become the monster that he is urged to let loose.  Internally, there is a struggle for the character, which is the only part of the movie with any substance, though it is clearly not fully explored.  I relate this to the way there is a struggle for our souls.  The enemy wants us to give in to the ways of the world, to become the animal, whereas God calls us to higher purposes, like putting aside our desire for revenge to help others.  This is the underlying theme of the film.  It is unfortunate that it is wrapped up in the rest of it.

As I said in the previous paragraph, there is no reason to watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  There is nothing all that objectionable about it, even if it is a tad on the violent side.  At times it borders on being so bad that it almost makes it worth seeing to understand the depths of the silliness.  If this sort of pursuit does not interest you, which is probable, then by all means, skip it.

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