X-Men Origins: Wolverine was precisely the movie I expected to see. It was executed by Fox in the same manner as Ghost Rider or Fantastic Four—with little regard to the original source material.
The positives: Hugh Jackman’s performance, he still brings a lot to this character. Lynn Collins as Silverfox was beautiful—she reminded me of Evangeline Lilly on Lost. It was fun seeing Gambit and the cameo at the end by Xavier was cool. The action scenes, though highly implausible, were well executed.
The negatives: Barry Smith’s Weapon X origin was discarded in favor of having General Stryker being the one responsible for Wolvy’s adamantium skeleton. Deadpool appears in character at the beginning of the movie—but it seems like we only get 10 minutes of Ryan Reynolds. Then Deadpool is transformed into a mega mutant…who can’t speak? That was really stupid. I kind of expected these mistakes from the previews. The really big missed opportunity was the scenes of Wolverine and Sabretooth in all the various wars throughout history. Those seemed more promising than the rest of the film. The ending was terrible and a real downer—too many depressing superhero movies lately. I thought of a better one right away: what if Lynn Collins’ character is alive but thinks Wolverine is dead? Lovers are tragically separated, but with a chance to get reunited one day.
Basically, I went in knowing it was a very flawed movie, but just enjoyed it for mindless escapism.
But here’s one thing that’s always bothered me. Why spend a lot of time and effort coming up with a failed movie script, done by committee, when you have the perfect source material for a film?
I’ve always thought the original Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller was practically begging for a cinematic adaption. It’s self contained, it’s got a classic three act story structure, and it has that man vs animal conflict that’s always tortured Logan.
This mini-series blew the entire legion of fans away when it was published in 1982. Claremont and Miller were at the top of their abilities when they collaborated on the story—supposedly during a car trip after a comics convention. The first issue features an opening scene made for one of those panoramic helicopter shots where Wolverine is tracking down a wild bear in the Canadian Rockies. Ok, if you want to punch that up, make it a Wendigo for the movie—we haven’t seen one of those before. Logan flies off to Japan in search of his lady friend, Mariko, who it turns out is the daughter of a Japanese Yakuza crime-lord, Shingen. Shingen gives Logan a bushwacking with a samurai sword, and cast out into Tokyo like a bum.
If that’s not enough action, here’s how issue two starts off…
An arms of ninjas chasing Logan across the rooftops of Tokyo. Tons of arrows embedded all over Wolverine’s body, but he keeps fighting and slashing. Zack Snyder, are you interested in filming this?
There’s one problem with making this as a movie: you’ve got to try and make the action scenes more realistic. The sword fight between Shingen and Wolverine has to be painful for Logan. Yes, Logan has a healing factor, but he should feel a frackin’ load of pain when a sword pierces his belly or shoulder. And he doesn’t heal in nanoseconds. When Liev Schreiber dumps a truckload full of giant logs on top of Logan in the movie, it should have taken Logan at least a few minutes to recover. Wolverine’s so freakin’ invulnerable in X-Men Origins, he’s almost like Superman.
I predict that if Fox were to adapt this story, more or less as a faithful adaption, they would make twice the profit of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Hire a well known Asian actor for Shingen. Get Asian (or Asian-American) actresses to play Yukio (Maggie Q would be a good choice, although not of Japanese ancestry) and Mariko, actually shoot part of the production in an Asian country, and you’ve got a big international mega-hit on your hands.
Second choice for a Wolverine adaption? I’m tempted to say Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s Enemy of the State. But that’s too frackin’ big. And Fox wouldn’t have the rights to all the other superhero characters in the story.
I think a good second choice would be Jason Aaron and Ron Garney’s Get Mystique story. Wolverine takes a helluva lot of punishment in this story. Imagine if you got Rebecca Romijn back as Mystique. Do the flashback scenes in the old west and put her in one of the western-madam costumes. Have Hugh Jackman chase Romijn throughout the middle east in the present day, sniffing out her various disguises. That’s highly cinematic and after seeing Romijn outwit all kinds of men in Brian DePalma’s Femme Fatale, this is a slam dunk.
Fox executives, you’ve got plenty of options for good Wolverine stories. Pick one of them and run with it. Don’t feel the need to throw in random mutants—have confidence, you own the rights to one of the most popular characters in the history of comics! Nuff said.