Friday, January 29, 2010

Things Hollywood Has Ruined: Wolverine

Part two of an ongoing series, “Things Hollywood Has Ruined"

Forgive me in advance if I get emotional, long-winded and nerdy at the same time for this, but quite frankly, it's an issue I take quite seriously.

When I was younger, I was really into comics; namely Wolverine comics.

Sure, I bought X-Men, Spiderman, The Punisher, and Daredevil, even the odd Superman or Batman title. And when I got a little older I started checking out indie comics like Peter Bagge's Hate and Daniel Clowes' Eightball, but I was always true to Wolverine's solo title.

I still have every sinlge issue of Wolverine Volume 1 in bags with boards in storage in massive rubbermaid containers with all my other comics. I even have most of the one-offs, crossovers, limited series and special issues that featured Wolverine up until the time I was about 15.

And do you know why?

Because Wolverine is awesome.

He didn't have super powers, he didn't fly and he wasn't even that big. He was just a mean little bastard with an indestructable skeleton and razor sharp adamantium claws. He didn't talk too much and didn't have a lot of friends. He basically just kicked ass and smoked cigars. In short, he was the ultimate badass in comics. Even if he wasn't your favourite, everyone had a soft spot for Wolverine. In all my comic book arguing about "who's your favourite" I never took any shit for liking Wolverine. Because everyone - everyone - would have to admit, "Yeah. Wolverine is pretty cool."

Accordingly, since the time I first read a Woverine comic (Which, incidentally was 1988's issue #14, Part 4 of 6 of The Gehenna Stone Affair) I have known two things:

1) Wolverine is the ultimate badass, and
2) The material in these comics would make the most awesome movie of all time.

Now, I'll give credit where credit is due. The first two X-Men movies were OK. If you were a fan of the X-men, you probably liked these movies too. They were cool, fairly modern interpretations of story lines and characters that, if you grew with the Marvel universe, were pretty much already gospel. No one could make an X-Men movie that pleased everyone, but these two movies came close (with the notable exception of the brainless, growling portrayal of Sabretooth, easily the worst interpretation ever of one of comicdoms greatest villians). I didn't even mind Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Sure the hair was stupid (but really, how could you make Wolverine's hair not stupid in real life?), and the cigar chomping and calling people "Bub" seemed a little forced and cartoonish but whatever.

Frankly, I didn't care. Mostly because, when the X-Men movies came out, it became pretty clear that Wolverine would eventually get his own movie. He was clearly the main attraction in these flicks.

It seemed self evident to me that some dedicated screenwriter would one day take one of the many fantastic story arcs in Wolverine's history and make it into a gritty, no-holds-barred-stab-and-smash-fest worthy of the
Ol' Canucklehead (Sorry, dork alert...Yeah, in the comics Wolverine sometimes calls himself this. He's Canadian, get it?).

Well, someone certainly chose some of the best stuff  from Wolverine's story to throw into the movie, but that's where my 11-year-old self totally loses my awkward flip-it-up-under-my-waistband boner.

In case you haven't seen the Wolverine movie, and in case you're really horrible at sensing where a snarky blog post is going, I'll let you in on a secret: X-Men Origins: Wolverine blows.

Now, if you never read comics, you probably saw the X-Men movies, thought Wolverine was a cool character, got excited for the movie Wolverine, then saw it and thought, "This blows."

But appreciate how much more it blows from the point of view of a lifelong fan.

First, consider how awesome the storyline loosely portrayed in the movie is originally:

Wolverine, starting to have some serious questions about his sketchy, memory-blocked and brain washed past wherein he worked as an assassin for the Canadian government (we have those?), asks Professor Xavier to unblock some memories (using his considerable brain powers).

The memories are violent and painful (thus the metaphoric spikes in these two old covers) and call into question a lot of details about his past, including whether or not his wife, Silver Fox, ever actually died. In short, the process makes him go a little crazy. In between flashbacks about weird missions as part of a team of assassins in Cuba and South East Asia , he does a lot of drinking and soul searching and, searching for answers, he ends up reuniting with his old team.

That team includes his nemesis Sabretooth, a shape shifter named Wraith and - gasp - Silver Fox! She's not dead.

While they all sort of want to kill each other, they agree to reunite in order to figure out the truth behind the project that brought them together - Weapon X - and fuck up the people who have been messing with their heads for so many years.

So yeah, kind of an awesome plot.

In the movie they cherry-picked details and smashed what is actually an amazing 20+ issue story-arc into an agonizing 1 hour and 47 minutes that bares little resemblance to the original intricate story or incredibly well developed characters.

So for true fans, X-Men Origins: Wolverine really, really blows.

On top of all that, they also blew a chance at redemption and managed to ruin the character of Sabretooth twice. Essentially a bigger, meaner, more homicidal, blond version of Wolverine, Sabretooth and Wolverine are possibly the best adversaries in comics. In the movie Sabretooth is only ever referred to as Victor Creed and he's Wolverine's bully older brother. Lame.
In the comic, the first time Wolverine and Sabretooth fight (Wolverine #10), it's because Sabretooth killed Wolverine's wife for no reason on Wolverine's birthday (Yes, Silver Fox wasn't actually killed but they both had that false memory implanted). Wolverine, rightly so, goes berserk and they have a massive scrap in the Canadian wilderness that almost kills Wolverine. Since then, no matter where he is in the world, Sabretooth shows up every year on Wolverine's birthday just to kick the shit out of him again. How fucking bad-ass is that? And look at the guy:

I know right?

You look at this guy, you hear how awesome he is and if you're like me, you think....wait...Liev Shreiber? Are you fucking kidding me?

Argh! I hate you X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

And I haven't even got to the casting of, the unmasking Deadpool simply for the sake of seeing Ryan Reynolds pretty face and the completely unnecessary addition of Gambit. 

God I hate this move. I'm choking on my own rage here.

But I did it for you.

I hope that in writing this, I've taught some of you just how much this movie not only blows, but blows. 

I also, of course hope that in a few years a bored, talented director will stumble on this post, decide to make the Wolverine movie properly and follow up with me for details. 

Bored director, please email: Thank you. 

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