(Yes, that’s Gambit. Shut up, I’m a Gambit fangirl.)
My moviegoing companion, not a comics person but yet the friend who’s accompanied me to every comic movie I’ve seen in the last year, enjoyed Wolverine more than she did Watchmen.
I don’t know if I’d go that far–or perhaps, if the metric is “enjoyed,” then yes. Watchmen, after all, isn’t something to be enjoyed so much as knocked sideways by, sent spiraling into thoughts on the end of the world, what it means to be human, superhuman, and in the comic, anyway, what it’s possible to do with the medium.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, by contrast, is meant to be enjoyed. You are meant to giggle at the sarcastic banter, lust after the pretty boys (and goodness, so many of them to choose from!) or the pretty girls (OK guys, for once you only get Lynn Collins, not that she’s too shabby), be impressed at the action and generally come out of it not a bit smarter or more thoughtful, but having had a fun, escapist two hours. It’s a popcorn movie at its finest, and the biggest contribution it can be said to have had is that the CG effects were never awkward or jumpy–oddly the fakest-looking part was Wolverine’s claws.
So the dismal reviews? Meh. What did they want, The Dark Knight? Admittedly, there’s probably a Dark Knight-level story that could be told about Wolverine, but this sure as heck wasn’t it. The trite dialogue at times made me roll my eyes. “I’d kill you, but then I’d be just…like…you!” This woman’s done Shakespeare, people!
But it was fun. I loved the opening montage of Logan and Victor fighting war after war, the way it used the credit sequence to subtly show Victor growing less and less human, to show the split between the two without (for once) resorting to hackneyed speeches. I love Ryan Reynolds and his wiseass mouth, and Hugh Jackman and especially Liev Schrieber are actors who can make any material watchable. Schrieber nailed the animalism and the strange integrity of Victor, and managed to make each shift believable.
Also, um, Gambit! I spent three X-Men movies hoping my favorite character would make an appearance. Yes, I’m a girly cliche, but I don’t care. Taylor Kitsch was what we could’ve asked for–a pretty face and a not-cheesy accent, a killer smirk and the right attitude. Gambit movie NOW please. There was not nearly enough of him in this movie.
The other day, I linked to a piece where an Entertainment Weekly writer asked if Wolverine was the most homoerotic superhero movie ever. And I noted that having men with their shirts off is always assumed to be targeting gay men, rather than heterosexual women. Let’s face it, the other X-Men movies had compelling female characters for female fans to relate to–this one has one girl who is very obviously the Girlfriend (and yeah, she does get a better ending than I’d hoped for–so I will forgive the screenwriters the cliches). And I wouldn’t be averse to some tension between Wolvie and Gambit, but no luck. I think the prolonged shirtless Ryan Reynolds and the naked Hugh Jackman (played for laughs for the most part) were clearly designed to be eye candy, but eye candy can be for gay and straight alike. I like seeing a movie for once where men provide most of the visual pleasure.
I’m not terribly familiar with the Deadpool character, so forgive me for complaining if it’s a vital plot point that he not talk at the end. But taking away Ryan Reynolds’ best asset (aside from his torso) in his best scene? It’s just not fair.
The ending of an origin movie can’t really be an ending. In this case, it not only had to lead into the X-Men flicks we’ve already seen, but also to leave room for other possible prequels with the excellent characters introduced here. So the ending here was as good as could be expected, leaving beginning threads all over the place. Where did Gambit go? What happened to the mutants we saw leave with Xavier but didn’t see in the X-Men films? Is Deadpool really dead? And of course, there are hours and hours of Wolverine stories still to be told.
If none of them are any better than this was, I’d still be satisfied.