All throughout the first three X-Men movies, it was clear that the main character was that of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). In the first film, he started out as a blank slate that allowed the audience to learn about everything that was going on. In the second and third films, he played a pivotal role in the plot. He was also one of the only characters to get some semblance of a back-story. That back-story is told here in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But only partially.
We know that, at some point, Wolverine lost his memory. We also know that he had a substance known as adamantium fused into his skeleton. What we didn’t know was the reason behind both of these events. After watching Origins: Wolverine, I have a better understanding of the character. However, this better understanding doesn’t make you look at him in a new light. Instead, it just allows you to understand small chunks of dialogue from the previous X-Men films a bit better. But, I suppose that it’s possible that you’ve read the comics and understood it anyway. And since there isn’t that much to look into anyway, this point is largely moot.
Wolverine’s story begins when he is still a child. He’s sick in bed when he hears a gunshot. He rushes out of the room, and to his dismay, sees his father lying on the ground. The gunman is still there. What’s the most logical thing for a little boy to do? Well, if this movie is to be believed, it’s stop being sick, grow claws out of your knuckles, and stab the murderer. This of course, is what he does. Afterwards though, he flees with his brother Victor Creed. We then see them grow up together, fighting in different wars, taking bullets like they are nothing. We become aware that these are not ordinary men, but of course, we knew that from watching the previous films.
The main plot of Origins: Wolverine is one of revenge. After the brothers get older, they grow apart. Wolverine lives with a wife in Canada for 6 years without any contact from other mutants. One day, his former employer, William Stryker (Danny Huston) comes and tells him that someone is out there killing mutants. That someone, as we’ve already found out, is Victor (Liev Schreiber plays him as an adult). Victor ends up killing Wolverine’s girlfriend (Lynn Collins). Wolverine sets out on a quest for revenge.
Along the way, he runs into some other mutants. (Because what X-Men movie would only have a couple of them, right?) Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), a man who can do card tricks and make them explode, plays a key role. Will.i.am also appears as a teleporting mutant, probably just because of how awesome Nightcrawler was in X2. Will.i.am tries to do some serious acting, but it was really hard to take him seriously at all. Luckily, he’s not in the film that often.
The plot is, in the end, really simple. There are a couple of character turns near the end of the film, but that’s par for the course in a revenge film. However, these twists are really easy to guess, and for the most part, we figure them out before Wolverine does. It was nice to get a better idea of what happened to him before the start of the first movie, but a lot of it was already explained, albeit indirectly and in bits and pieces, but explained nonetheless. There are quite a few moments where I found myself drifting off not because the film was boring, but because I knew what was going to happen, or at least felt like I had a good idea.
A Wolverine movie would not be complete without Wolverine getting the chance to engage in one-on-one battles with a few people. This happens, but the fights end up getting stale quickly. There’s only so much you can do when both people are using their fists (or claws). Or maybe the fight choreography just wasn’t all that good. What I did notice was the, at times, questionable special effects used. Sometimes, they looked just fine. Other times, they looked laughable, especially when compared to the first X-Men film which came out 9 years earlier.
I do have to say that I admire what Hugh Jackman has done with this character. He clearly has a passion for Wolverine, because otherwise, this movie never would have been made. He bulks up, makes his hair look silly, and puts on his biggest tough guy face. And it works. It has worked in 4 films now. He is Wolverine, and at this point, it would be really difficult to see another actor playing him. Even after 9 years, Jackman can easily still play the character, and it’s largely thanks to his performance that this film is worth a watch at all.
Even though Wolverine announced in X2 that he didn’t care about what had happened in his past, this didn’t stop the audience from wanting to know more. This is why we got X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s not a perfect film, as the action scenes are lacking, the plot is basic and the special effects are, at times, not very good, but I still think it’s worth a watch if you liked the character of Wolverine. If answers some of the questions you may have had after the X-Men trilogy came to a close, and just for that, (and seeing Jackman once again as Wolverine), it’s worth a watch. It’s not as good as the previous three films, but it’s not bad either.