Is it possible that a character’s supposed biopic can leave us knowing even less about what makes him tick than when we first stepped into the theatre?
Remember in high school when there was always that one kid at the back of the classroom who hit puberty just a little bit sooner than everyone else and consequently had almost a full beard going by graduation, along with serious grooming issues? The one who was always just a bit too rugged for the ladies, and who drove a beat up pickup truck to all of the school dances and just sat there, sullen and alone in the parking lot watching the couples slink in and out of the gym to give each other handjobs in the bushes? Well, add in a skeleton made of indestructible metal and the lack of a father figure in early childhood and you’ve pretty much got Wolverine.
Don’t get me wrong – Wolverine is a cool character. At least, he showed some potential in the previous three X-Men movies. The thing is, while the idea of devoting an entire film to this mysterious figure’s back story was hailed by fans when it was initially announced, what ended up being delivered was a mismanaged clusterfuck of intersecting 2-minute character cameos and a script so thin I swear I could see the hollow face of Stan Lee staring at me from behind the screen.
Is it possible that a character’s supposed biopic can leave us knowing even less about what makes him tick than when we first stepped into the theatre? Thanks to the stinker that is Wolverine, we can now answer that question with a resounding ‘yes’. Sure, we get a few perfunctory explanations where we learn that Wolverine is consistently tricked and manipulated by a shadowy government organization for a large part of his life, but these are mainly present in the story to set up scenes where Hugh Jackman runs screaming down a hallway or alley with his claws extended, usually towards Liev Schrieber’s character, usually with sparks flying. In fact, there are segments of the film that consist entirely of the aforementioned scenes combined with shots of Jackman striding purposefully away from a huge explosion. It was kind of like watching ‘The Running Man’ combined with ‘The Fugitive’ combined with ‘The Power Rangers’. During these sequences I often cut to the scene in my mind of my own funeral, as I watched the gravediggers blissfully shovel 6 feet of dirt between my eyes and the movie screen.
The worst part of the film, however, were the other characters. Once again, Marvel decided to cram in as many fresh faces as they could, give them a perfunctory back story and then see which ones would make the best spin-off candidates. Because that is all the X-Men franchise is, really – a sequel machine. We’ve got the token Asian mutant who is good with guns and of course dies first, and then we’ve got the token African-American mutant who is given a full leather cowboy suit to disempower him and make him LOOK AS RIDICULOUS AS POSSIBLE before he too is killed. Oh, and don’t forget each of the female mutant characters who exist solely as objects in distress requiring rescue at every possible opportunity. For fuck’s sake, at one point a mutant of the fairer sex is GIVEN DIRECTIONS BY A BLIND MAN because of course her uterus can’t be trusted to make a simple decision to either turn left or right during their escape. If that doesn’t sum up Marvel’s attitude towards a woman’s place in the world, then I don’t know what does.
Wolverine could have been good – it could have been great. It could have actually focused the camera lens on the character in question for more than 10 seconds before requiring him to leap through the air onto a helicopter, clash with yet another disposable villain, or confront the main bad guy in the film – something he did at least 10 times. There’s no climax to Wolverine because there’s no tension – he can’t die, and everyone knows this is the prequel. This leaves us all marking time in our seats until the lights go up and like dutiful little nerds and geeks we go home to our empty basements and sit and stare at our X-Men figurines and figure out which ones would best block our primary airways. By the way, the choice is obviously Professor Xavier.
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