This is going to be my messiest essay, and maybe the one where all of you throw things at me. I have something to say about a 2009 release that will earn me hatred and I understand that, So let me say it, loud and clear:
I kind of like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Go ahead, let that sit for a bit.
Are your instinctive juices all flowing? Have you metaphorically punched a wall? So let me tell you why I think Origins is kind of good, even if it is not that great, and how in terms of the X movies it’s perfectly decent.
- Hugh Jackman. Even in a movie where it’s pretty apparent that things are going pretty whackadoo he’s still giving his all as Logan. He really is one of the best casting deals in any Marvel movie,.
- Liev Schrieber. Sabretooth is sometimes a difficult character to do well, since his main characteristic is essentially to be the wanna-be Wolverine. This movie chooses to just lean into that, and Liev Schreiber does a good job of playing that resentment of never being as good as Logan. He leans hard into playing him and I appreciate that.
OK, here is where I get into the crazy part of why I kind of like this movie: Taylor Kitsch as Gambit. I’m not joking.
Gambit is a grade-A terrible X-Man. His supposed Cajun accent sucks, his outfit sucks, his relationship with Rogue sucks. And yet…somehow… Taylor Kitsch is a really good Gambit, ignoring all of that nonsense. It helps that he gets an upgrade of an outfit, Kitsch doesn’t lean too hard on the accent, and he’s not asked to be too much of a ‘90s parody like Gambit always was. Kitsch has gotten a bit of a raw deal as a leading man over the years, but he’s always delivered pretty good work even when the movies weren’t up to his level.
Granted, this movie is by no means perfect. How the hell it fits into the full X-Men movie timeline is doubtful at best, but then the entire chronology of these movies is an absolute mess. Danny Huston is a decent character actor but I just find his Stryker to be blah. The less said about will.i.am as Wraith, the better. I haven’t seen a performance this bad from him since the time he played a hologram on Election Night 2008.
But overall, the action is decent in the movie, the movie chugs along nicely (hooray for only 107 minutes!), you can mostly follow the plot, as opposed to something like Apocalypse. Everything is going along nicely, we’re heading to the climax at the Weapon X facility and then…and then…
Sigh. The infamous Wade Wilson appearance as some sort of Deadpool, but turned into a mute monstrosity who has several mutant powers. It’s one of the most incomprehensible decisions for a superhero movie; take a character who is infamous for talking too much, to the point where he’s been nicknamed the Merc With A Mouth, and take away his mouth. It’s stupid, it derails the whole movie and it drains any good will you’ve had about the preceding 90 minutes. So overall, while I like good portions of this movie, I have to say it still mostly earns that bad reputation it’s had over the years. It’s still better than the disaster of Apocalypse (it may be better than Dark Phoenix, which I still haven’t seen and actually had to look up the title of), but yeah, this is a lesser X-Men movie. Skip it and go watch X2 or something; that has a much better Stryker anyway.