In This Episode:
Chris and Allen recount the plot and pitfalls, of Hugh Jackman’s first solo outing as Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Hang on to your seats because timelines are all over the place in this movie, and franchise generally.
Origins is the fourth X-Men film but is a prequel and was intended as the first in a series of X-Men spin-offs. This movie stinks so bad however that even though it took over $300 million at the box office (in the face of a copy leaking online ahead of release) the critical reception and negative fan reaction was strong enough to stop X-Men Origins: Magneto dead in its tracks, and subsequently the spin off series never came to pass.
Origins is an unfocused, messy film that borders on incoherence. The opening stages of the movie cram 150 years of conflict, and story elements from the six issue comic story arc Origin, as well as setting up the dynamic between Wolverine and his bloodthirsty half-sibling Victor Creed/Sabretooth into about 10 minutes of screen time. This happens at breakneck speed, which is a shame because the ground covered (very artfully) in the credit sequence is what the movie should really have been about. The effects of war on two warriors struggling to come to terms with their powers and their rivalry as siblings. Instead we overrun the battling bros until they crash headlong into Col. Stryker’s (Danny Huston) Team X mutant commando force. Where the movie becomes a generic, loud superhero mash up and the threat level is reduced because our heroes are almost indestructible.
Trying to live a new life far from Stryker’s clandestine plan, to create the perfect mutant weapon, his former X Team members are being killed and Wolverine is being drawn back into his old life. It’s inevitable that Wolverine will soon be back in action, beserker attack style, to stop Stryker. But the down side is the filmmakers aren’t 100% sure how to get from here to where we find Wolverine at the beginning of X-Men.
And Deadpool! I mean this movie takes the merc with the mouth, stitched that bit shut creating THE worst take on the character (along with what they did to Gambit) and could have destroyed it for everyone! We should all be thankful that Ryan Reynolds hung in there and we got Deadpool (2016). A movie that hopefully shows that it’s okay to make comic book movies for grown ups and still make bank at the box office. Of course some people think the Origins version of Wade Wilson got more right, so what do we know.
The X-Men movie universe had begun brightly. Bryan Singer created a solid foundation for the franchise with his brace of mutant filled films, X-Men (2000) and X2 (2006). These films were made only a few short years after the comic book disasters of Batman & Robin, Steel and Spawn (all 1997) almost destroyed the superhero genre. In a time before Raimi’s Spider-Man, Nolan’s Batman or the blockbusting behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe the X movies felt like a return to the Burton era Batman halcyon days.
However Singer jumped from the project early in the pre-production stage of, what would become, X-Men: The Last Stand choosing instead to bring Superman Returns to the screen. Singer was initially replaced by Matthew Vaughn, who would drop out due to “personal and professional” reasons but would later return to direct X-Men: First Class (2011). Vaughn’s exit would see Bret Ratner take over. His bloated, meme referencing, movie was overstuffed with characters and stands as one of the weakest in the, currently, ten film franchise. With a budget of $210 million dollars, still the most expensive of the series, and drawing from one of the most popular X-Men storylines from the comic, in the “Dark Phoenix Saga” by Chris Clearmont and John Byrne, and being able to capitalize on the two previous films it should have been much more than the emotionless exploding SFX mess we got.
Keen to continue the franchise Fox began plans to kick off a series of spin off films. Beginning with a solo adventure for the breakout star of the franchise in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, albeit with a slashed budget. Even then you could almost make Deapool three times over for the same money, and we know how well Deadpool came out!
It’s odd to think of anyone other than fan favourite Hugh Jackman flash the claws, but he wasn’t first choice for the role. Fox lucked out with his casting and his muscular, growling performance was a perfect fit, more than deserving of a chance to expand the character. At the second try The Wolverine (2013) was a perfectly serviceable movie, if weirdly disconnected from the rest of the franchise at large, directed by James Mangold who would re-team with Jackman for Logan, which promises to finally give the character a movie he deserves, and a fitting send off.
We at Diminishing Returns wanted to prove that budget wasn’t everything. Playing to our strengths of understanding the character, staying true to the source and ensuring a classic look. We are proud to present our adaptation of the same material. Made for a budget of $0 (well the cost of a Burger King Kids Club meal in the 90’s) and produced independently it covers all the important stuff that Origins did.
All clips in the episode are used under Fair Use for the purposes of criticism and are not intended to diminish the original works or limit the ability of the copyright owners to market or sell their product.
How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email email@example.com