The first two X-Men and X2: X-Men United did very well, but things went to shit with the third installment, X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006. Everyone was hoping that this standalone Wolverine film would bring the series back on track, but it turned out to be another step in the wrong direction, causing the studio to rethink their strategy for future films.
Why is it so bad? What is wrong with the movie? How do you fix X-Men Origins: Wolverine?
Let's take a look.
Core Problem #1: Tone
Keep in mind that this series is all about hindsight, where I try to get as close as possible to the movie that they clearly wanted to make while also taking the necessary steps to make adjustments for the better. That's hard to do, though, when the movie itself doesn't know what it wants to be.
Sometimes, this wants to be a gritty, serious story about two brothers who either embrace their inner beast (Sabretooth) or reject the killer inside him in hopes of being more normal and less feral (Wolverine). Other times, this movie thinks it's this campy "superhero film" of a different era where it needs to be all spectacle and no substance.
The fight choreography is the easiest way to see how silly this can be. The action is often unrealistic as hell, with people flipping around in impossible ways (even for mutants) for no reason other than someone said it would look cool for them to flip—and it doesn't. Am I the only one who thinks Victor is a badass in a lot of ways but is laughably stupid looking when he gets on all fours and pounces in the middle of a bar? Oooh, I get it, that's because he's like a sabretooth tiger. Well, he looks ridiculous, and that type of on-the-nose writing makes me shocked that we didn't see Logan actually come across a wolverine in the forest that acts as his spirit animal and points him in the right direction to find Kayla.
Since it's practically impossible to balance two extremes like serious/silly, neither ends up working. The lighter stuff takes out any emotional impact from the darker stuff and the darker stuff makes it so it can't get so weird as to be funny and entertaining in that way, and thus we end up with something that pleases nobody.
Core Problem #2: Kayla Silverfox & Emma Frost
Normally, I advocate trying to fit in references to characters all over the place and if you can insert someone from the comics in a role rather than make something else up, you should go ahead and do that. To some extent, this movie does follow that rule, but it also does it in a way that is detrimental to the overall picture.
Emma Frost should not have been in this movie. First off, she's not even officially Emma Frost in the credits, but just "Emma" despite being a blonde mutant woman with diamond skin…named Emma. Second, as far as I'm aware, she's not related in any way to Silver Fox like she is in the movie. For some reason, they decided that they should be sisters, and this is to give Kayla a reason to betray Logan, and it all just works backward.
If Kayla needed a sister, why is it Emma? Because Emma wasn't used in the movies yet? More so, Kayla doesn't need a sister, because she doesn't need to have a reason to betray Logan, because she doesn't need to betray Logan! It's not a twist that got the audience reeling and it didn't amount to anything. After the reveal, Logan wants to just leave but then comes back to save her, and then she dies anyway. You could skip all of this nonsense by just having her die when she fake-dies in the movie.
In that scenario, Kayla dies as a legitimate good person who did nothing wrong and was just in the way. It gives Logan more of a reason to hate Victor because he actually did kill her instead of just faking it like in the film. The way it goes now, he basically seems to forgive Victor despite how John Wraith is dead. I guess that guy didn't mean much to Logan, right?
Kayla's role in the film is to love Logan, get killed so he can go on a hunt, reveal that she is still alive and that she was part of the ruse but only to get her sister (who isn't a factor beforehand) out of captivity, let Logan save her sister, and then tell Stryker to leave her alone while she dies. By the end, Logan doesn't remember her anyway, so it's all a moot point. She could have died at the beginning and not made any more appearances, rendering the Emma character superfluous so she can be saved for other movies. Same story, less mess to clean up, even better results.
Core Problem #3: Gambit
A running theme for this movie is pointless characters and just as Emma is one, Gambit falls victim to the same issue.
The list of events Gambit does in the movie is the following: 1) throws a card at Logan because he thinks he's coming after him, 2) starts to say this and easily gets knocked down by Logan who is busy with other shit, 3) starts fighting Logan again but loses, 4) takes Logan to Three Mile Island and promptly goes...somewhere...to do...something...while everything else is happening, 5) pops up to save Logan from being crushed under cement even though he would survive it anyway, 6) tells him his name despite that being on the dog tags anyway, 7) fucks off never to be seen again in the lore as of yet.
Once again, they must have included Gambit into this movie just because they wanted to put Gambit into the movie. Nothing he does is instrumental to the plot in a way that only he could do it. If Logan were to find out there Stryker was located by anyone else (Blob, for one, who tells him to find Gambit just so Gambit can tell him the same information) then he can just go there on his own. He damn sure leaves on his own and fights the villain without Gambit's help, so there's no need for him.
Nixing him from the movie also means we don't have the Taylor Kitsch version. While he wasn't horrible, he definitely wasn't the Gambit we deserve.
Core Problem #4: Deadpool
Speaking of getting a bad version of a character that we don't deserve rather than something better, this is the part of the film that gets the most amount of criticism, and with good reason.
Let's just start this section off by saying that somehow, they took a character that is insanely popular because of the crazy things he says and goes by the nickname The Merc with the Mouth and they sewed his mouth shut! WHAT?? That's like doing a Green Arrow movie where he doesn't use a bow and arrow, or a Daredevil movie where Matt Murdock can see perfectly fine.
At the beginning of the movie, we're introduced to Wade Wilson who is very skilled at killing people and also won't shut the hell up. He's childish and annoying. That's the Deadpool we're getting in this new movie coming out in a few days and thank God, because that's all we see of that version of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The next time we see him, he's been experimented on as Weapon XI, can't speak, is controlled by a computer, and has the powers of teleportation along with Cyclops', and these two swords coming out of his arms.
Oh yeah, and he's the villain, which should have been Omega Red instead. Arkady Rossovich could have been introduced as an enemy from the start, seeing as he's tied to Russia and Stryker had recruited Team X for America. Since part of his power is draining life force, he could cancel out the healing factor from Logan and Victor, evening the odds for a three-way fight between them. The "big reveal" at the end—instead of it being Kayla's deception—could be that Stryker was working with Rossovich all along, as he doesn't really care about Russia, nor does Stryker really care about America. Both of them are in it for the Mutant Agenda more than anything else and that is where their priorities lie. When else are we going to see Omega Red in a movie other than one centralized around Wolverine? He's big enough for that type of film but not for something starring a whole team.
If you want to go really balls out with this, Gambit's role in the movie should have been Deadpool's so we have the climax of the film being Deadpool and Wolverine teaming up against Omega Red and Sabretooth. You can even tie in Deadpool's scarring to Red's life force draining abilities, which sets up why those two are at odds with one another. Then, Deadpool can get the solo film we're seeing now, and maybe that would have stopped Ryan Reynolds from doing Green Lantern and getting a huge setback in his career.
Core Problem #5: The Opening Credits
Right now you're probably thinking "What?! That was the best part!" Indeed it was, and that's why it's on this list. The montage of Wolverine and Sabretooth going through the different wars is so awesome that when I saw this in theaters, my expectations for the rest of the movie went up so far, only to be let down even more. I had gone into this hating X-Men: The Last Stand and with very low expectations but with high hopes as well. This movie started off in a way that made me temporarily think that my fears were pointless and that I was in for an awesome ride, but then it soured and continued to suck.
Basically, they dangled a carrot and then when I went to reach for it, they slapped me in the face and said I was wrong for thinking this wouldn't be a bad movie. Thankfully, X-Men: First Class was better, The Wolverine was a step up from this and X-Men: Days of Future Past blew me out of the water, so now I don't know what to think about X-Men: Apocalypse.
Miscellaneous Extra Flaws & Nitpicking
Those are the biggest structural problems to the movie, but there are some other, smaller things that I feel could have been changed for the better as well. I can't remember every little thing, but a few that stand out to me are as follows:
- CGI on Charles Xavier – Holy shit does he look like he's a wax statue!
- Bolt – Stupid. A waste of Dominic Monaghan, too, as he's better than that role.
- Adamantium Bullet – This is how Logan loses his memory? A gunshot to the head? There's no explanation for how this works other than them just saying it does. The bullet falls out just like any other, so why are his memories erased? Why is it conveniently not memories like how to talk and walk or anything of the sort?