X-Men Origins: Wolverine
A prequel to the trilogy with a lot of familiar faces. Danny Huston (we just saw him as Ludendorff in Wonder Woman and briefly as King Richard the Lionheart in Robin Hood) is Stryker and say hello to Dominic Monaghan (he will always be Merry) as Chris Bradley. And there’s Kevin Durand (Little John in the same Robin Hood movie) as Fred Dukes. Liev Schreiber (he was in Kate and Leopold with Hugh Jackman in 2001) is Victor Creed and Ryan Reynolds (he’s been opposite Sandra Bullock in The Proposal and is famous as Deadpool now…and that’s a confusing bit I will attempt to explain later) is Wade Wilson.
Wolverine’s origins actually begin in the mid 1800’s in Canada’s Northwest Territories. James is an adolescent with a friend/half-brother Victor. There is an altercation downstairs between James’ mother and another man, with James’ father investigating and getting killed. It is quickly revealed that the other man is James’ actual father and Victor’s father as well and since they share the same mother, they’re full-blooded brothers. James also has bone claws that extend from his hands, revealed when he attacks the other man for killing his “father.” He and Victor run away and brief scenes show that they fight together in wars throughout the next century, including the American Civil War, both World Wars, and ending up in Vietnam. Victor takes things too far and James (going by his surname of Logan by this time) jumps in to protect his brother; for their actions, they face a firing squad, but bullets do not harm the brothers. That’s when Stryker shows up and offers the men the chance to join a special team, that enjoys “special privileges.”
The special team is a black ops team that touches down in Africa to confront a businessman (played by Hakeem Kae-Kazim, who has voiced Krogan in Race to the Edge, as well as has appeared in the rebooted MacGyver series, NCIS: Los Angeles, Black Sails, Jomo in The Librarian: Return to King Solomon Mines [the second film] and Jocard in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) about a meteorite fragment he has on his desk. Logan is displeased at Stryker’s willingness to kill an entire village to gain the location, and leaves. Victor stays, once again enjoying killing.
Six years later, Logan is enjoying the simple life in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend. Kayla Silverfox [who looks like Jennifer Lawrence a bit] is a schoolteacher and Logan is a lumberjack. We cut briefly to a fair in Springfield, Ohio, where Bradley is working. Until he is visited and killed by Victor. Afterwards, Stryker pays a visit to Logan, asking for his help. “Your country needs you!” Logan points out, “I’m Canadian.” That evening, Kayla tells Logan a Trickster story about the moon’s lover, Kuekuatshue (which means “the wolverine”).
Of course, the next day, Victor tracks down Kayla. Logan senses it and runs to the woods, finding Kayla’s bloody body. He hunts down Victor, but takes a lot of hits in his rage. Stryker finds Logan at the hospital and promises him revenge, but first, he must endure pain in order to become indestructible. Logan agrees, warning Stryker that afterward, he will be out for blood and no code of conduct nor law will stop him. The procedure (at a familiar looking facility) involves the metal they found in Africa; adamantium [which is harder than vibranium, but not harder than Captain America’s shield according to the comics], which will be grafted to his skeleton. Logan wants new dog tags that say Wolverine since he plans to become to animal in order to get his revenge. There are visiting generals observing the creation of Weapon X; as in the Roman numeral for ten. There is a moment where the procedure appears to have killed Logan, but the heart monitor starts up again. Then Stryker tells one of his agents to erase Logan’s memories, which Logan hears. He emerges from the pool furious and escapes, butt naked. Stryker now tells his agent to cut off Logan’s head.
Logan manages to find a kind elderly couple to stay with for an evening. But he’s found and they’re kill. He rides their motorcycle out and takes down armored trucks and a helicopter (the fireballs are rather impressive). Stryker is still trying to play both sides; give Logan his revenge, but keep him as a weapon. Logan isn’t having that anymore. Stryker is informed that the only thing that can kill Logan now is an adamantium bullet to the skull. Logan goes to some of his old teammates to get information on what exactly Stryker is planning. He finds out that Stryker was having the team hunt down mutants and he’s still doing that with Victor, and we see Victor go after Scott Summers at school. Turns out, Stryker is collecting mutant powers in order to combine them into the perfect weapon. They’re held on an island that only one mutant ever escaped from, Remy LeBeau, known as Gambit. So Logan heads to New Orleans to find him. But there is a miscommunication between Remy and Logan and Remy throws him out of the casino, then interrupts Logan and Victor’s fight
Back at the island, the general shuts down Stryker’s project, citing a conflict of interests in regard to Stryker’s son being a mutant. Stryker kills the general and proceeds with creating Weapon XI. Turns out, said island is actually Three Mile Island, the nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania…where better to operate in secrecy? Remy drops Logan off and Logan confronts Stryker only to find out that Kayla is actually alive, and a mutant and planted in order to keep an idea on him. She is able to influence people by touching them (she did that by deescalating a fight between Logan and another man earlier). Logan is furious and walks out. Victor goes to Stryker, because he wanted a fight. So Victor goes after Kayla; her scream calls Logan back and he dukes it out with Victor. He knocks his brother out, but doesn’t kill them, instead rescuing the trapped mutant children with Kayla, including her younger sister who has diamond skin. Kayla sends the kids on their own, staying to watch Logan take on Weapon XI, who is Wade with a lot of new powers, and a sewn-shut mouth (because that man would not shut up, not while he was awake and Stryker had commented earlier that he’d be the perfect soldier if he didn’t have that mouth). Victor joins in on the fun and fights back-to-back with his brother again; “nobody kills you but me.” Logan manages to decapitate Wade, but still walks away from his brother.
Logan finds Kayla wounded and they try to leave, but Stryker arrives with a gun with adamantium bullets. He downs Logan and puts two bullets in his skull; which doesn’t kill him, but does erase his memories. Kayla keeps from being shot by grasping Stryker’s leg and ordering him to turn and walk away. Remy has come back and after seeing Xavier take the children, discovers Logan, with no memory (at least he’s smart enough to realize that two bullets to the skull of someone who is indestructible is not good and yeah, probably causes memory problems). Logan discovers Kayla, but has no recollection of who she is, then tells Remy he will find his own way. Which brings us to how the first X-Men movie started; how Logan had no memory of how he became the Wolverine.
Oh, and Wade survived. Which brings us to the conundrum of Deadpool’s place in Marvel. I will be honest; I’ve only watched the first Deadpool movie once and not really my cup of team, but I believe that a few X-Men do show up and I recall Deadpool calling out Wolverine (or that was Ryan Reynolds calling out Hugh Jackman). The Deadpool character is part of the Marvel universe (but not the huge cinematic universe that Disney owns now) and I read somewhere that technically, Deadpool does exist in some way in the whole wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey timeline that Days of the Future Past created. However, it does appear that Ryan Reynolds enjoys playing Deadpool.
In a similar vein of honesty, this used to be my favorite X-Men movie and why I began liking Hugh Jackman as an actor. And it fits fairly well with the previous trilogy of films, though we do have a question now about Sabertooth, because Victor Creed is supposed to be Sabertooth, but in the first film, he does not have any brotherly tendencies towards Logan. Bit confusing if you stop and think about it. But things do get out of whack with the prequel films; however, I like those movies a little more in general; I think the stories are more nuanced, but we’ll get into that with the next batch of films. Overall, this is a straight-up action film, which we expect from Wolverine. He is caring, but doesn’t focus on the warm and fuzzy notions. And from the bits I’ve seen of later Logan-centric films, this doesn’t wallow in angst, which is appreciated.
Next Time: X-Men First Class