X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Posted on September 15, 2009 at 8:00 am

Sometimes the mystery is better than the solution. This is one of those times.

Marvel Comics’ X-Men movie trilogy was about a group of mostly young people with special “mutant” powers who were either victimized by or exploited by “regular” humans. These powers were first presented in most cases when the unsuspecting mutants became teenagers. It was effective as fantasy and more effective as metaphor for the changes of adolescence. One of the few grown-up characters is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a cigar-chomping tough guy with indestructible claws that slide out from between his knuckles and the power to heal all wounds almost instantly — and large pieces of his memory missing, which is the source of some intrigue.

Now Wolverine gets his own spin-off and it is an “origin” story, which anthropologists and comic fans know is a prequel, an up close and personal look at the superhero’s backstory to give us some insights into what made Logan into his Wolverine-y bad self and a chance to feel knowledgeable when we see the experiences that led to the characteristics and events we already know. Aha, so that’s where the name comes from! And who was behind that operation? And when do we get to see that always indispensable origin moment — Wolverine primal screaming up into the indifferent sky?

The movie’s version of adamantium, that super-strong metal alloy that gives Wolverine the super-powerful skeletal structure and shooting claws, is its three leads, all superb actors as well as action heroes. Liev Schreiber plays Victor, Logan’s similarly-powered brother, and Ryan Reynolds is a motor-mouthed swordsman named Wade Wilson. The evil military man who presides over the hideous medical experiments is Danny Houston and Logan’s romantic interest is the criminally underused Lynn Collins. There are some striking fight scenes, I love the way Wolverine races toward battle, and it has the usual intriguing murkiness about who is on which side that energizes the X-Men stories. But it never taps into the deeper themes of mutantcy as metaphor and the reveals are not especially revelatory.

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Action/Adventure Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel Fantasy Superhero

31 Replies to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”

  1. This movie isn’t rated R. Next time try getting your facts straight before you make a review “mom”.

  2. It has become quite disturbing and very disappointing that yet another film decides to feature male nudity only. Whether it is non sexual or not it has become quite a double standard of exposing only males.

  3. Ron and Matt — thanks for the correction! For some reason I spaced and confused it with the 2000 Wolverine movie when I checked the rating. I’m always glad to be alerted to a mistake so I can fix it. Matt, you might want to read Ron’s comment to see the appropriate way to point out an error. There’s no reason it has to be rude.

  4. Tim1974,
    While I’m no fan of gratuitous nudity in movies, no matter whether it’s male or female, I don’t think we’re men are anywhere near needing to be concerned by a double standard. There are so, so many more releases that include female only nudity. The difference remains staggeringly in favor of nude appearances by women in movies. I’d love to hear Movie Mom’s thoughts on this!

  5. Thanks, Rollins. Tim1974 and I have had this debate more than once and I am on your side, especially when you consider the context, which most often has female nudity intended to be erotic and/or objectifying and most often has male nudity that is intended to be humorous or tough. In this movie, we see a brief nude scene with Wolverine at a distance and a side view only, in a non-sexual context. As I have said to Tim1974 with regard to other movies, equality is not just a question of body parts but of history, culture, and context.

  6. P.S.
    I intended to write “I don’t think we’re at a point where men are close to needing to be concerned by a double standard.” Blame my eager pinky finger for clicking the “post” button.
    I wasn’t aware that the subject of male nudity in films was one you’ve debated on the site; but suffice it to say that if Hollywood offered only non-eroticized (even if still gratuitous) images of women in movies, the VAST majority of filmed nudity would simply not exist. It probably wouldn’t even be missed. I think Movie Mom hit the nail on the head: male nudity in films is almost never intended to titillate, while female nudity almost ALWAYS is. I mean really… as adorable as I think Jennifer Aniston is, was there any point to a (admittedly non-explicit) skinny dipping scene in Marley & Me? There’s a reason why we weren’t asked to imagine Owen Wilson strutting into the pool! It would take decades of gratuitous, contextually unnecessary male nudity to even catch up to female nudity in films, let alone achieve a double standard. Just one guy’s opinion.

  7. Hi,
    Even though I haven’t seen the movie, the ratings board here in Sweden gave Wolverine a 15 years and above rating. Unlike X-Men 2 and
    3, when the ratings board here in Sweden gave an 11 and above rating.
    When a film is rated from 15 and above here in Sweden, that means the audience must be 15 and above.
    This should be helpful for those who ´might wonder how graphic the film is. A majority of the comic based films are from 11 and up, but this film was too grafic for that rating in Sweden,
    The rating is NOT based on male nudity, since it’s not an issue here in Sweden. In fact, Sex and the City got a “G” rating here.

  8. Sex and the City received a “G” rating and there was a shot of a man’s schlong, excuse the verbiage, while showering outside….? Wow! That in and of itself seems to warrant something above 11, but then male nudity is said to not be an issue in Sweden.

  9. Yes. Well I haven’t seen that film either. But That’s the rating Sex and the City Got here in Sweden. Nudity isn’t an issue since the attitude here is liberal on human nature. So, for example, an R rated film like Wedding Crashers got a rating of 7 and above.
    The violence in most comic based films recieve a rating from 11 and above, but if it’s very violent, it’ll get a 15 and above, which is the adult age here in Sweden. Keep in mind that one cannot be admitted to a film if one is under 15, regardless if a parent is present or not for that rating. This is a good policy, I think. Most of the James Bond films have recieved a 15 rating, and the first Superman, uncut, recieved a 15. Sweden used to cut sequences out to get a lower rating. That practice is no longer used anymore.
    Today the original Superman uncut would recieve an 11 rating.

  10. Thanks so much! I love the comparisons between the US and Swedish ratings systems. It demonstrates cultural differences that help us to understand our own assumptions and context much better.

  11. the review keeps saying brief non sexual nudity, what does that mean, I’m wanting to take my boys to see this but that worries me… can you elaborate?

  12. How old are the boys, Tony? The brief non-sexual nudity is Wolverine himself, nude but viewed from the side, during one of his escapes.

  13. THANKS! The boys are 8 and 10, but they have seen the other 3 w/ their dad. The nudity part was my biggest concern.

  14. Better than I expected, after all the two star reviews I’ve been seeing. But it’s the weakest of the series and it doesn’t give us much that was new or unexpected, except maybe the appearance by Scott. The performances were mostly fine (except Danny Huston, who in no way matched Brian Cox), but the script was generic and not up to the standard of the first two. The stunts were cool, but nothing we hadn’t seen before and the fight scenes, at least until Weapon XI appeared, were repetitive and lacking in dramatic tension for anyone who had seen the original X-Men.
    Still, I can’t wait for the Magneto spinoff.

  15. My 5 year old son has been begging me for months to take him to see this movie. He is highly mature for his age, but I still worry about some of the violence (mostly the talked about “decapitation”), and the nudity. Could you please specifically tell me how grafic each scene of those two scenes are, and if you feel parent-to-parent, whether a 5 year is too young to see this film. Thank you so much!

  16. A 5 year old is much, much, much too young to see the film. It has nothing to do with intelligence levels or what he has seen so far. It is a developmental issue. The movie is extremely graphic and violent (the brief nudity is side-only, not sexual, and at a distance). Parent-to-parent, there is no way I would even allow a 5 year old to consider the possibility of seeing the movie or any other PG-13.

  17. Great Nell, thank you so much for the information! I have been reading your reviews since my son was old enough to watch movies. When he was younger it was so much easier to pick out a movie for him, but now he is getting into “big boy” films, and it is getting harder to decide which movies I should allow him to see. I will definately take your advice, and we will just have to watch something else this weekend! Thank you again, and please keep up the great work! It is much appreciated!

  18. My pleasure, Irish_Chick! I love to hear from parents like you. And your son might enjoy the Wolverine and X-Men animated series until he gets old enough for live action. Best wishes to you both!

  19. My 7 year old son wants to see this movie and I am not sure if he is old enough. I would like your opinion Neil. Thanks.

  20. As I said to the previous commenter, this is an extremely graphic and violent movie with torturous medical treatments and completely unsuitable for a 7 year old. Thanks for asking!

  21. My son is 6 and has seen the other 3 x-men movies, as well as transformers. He is not affected by movie violence as other boys his age are. He has actually told me that it’s ok because it is just a movie and the bad guys are not coming out of the screen to get him. This is when I accidently flipped on Jurassic Park during the famous T-Rex scene. But I am going to take your advise and watch it alone first, seeing as I am the real X-Men fan anyway! I am going to do the same with the ne Transformers movie.

  22. Good to hear from you, Mamaluvs! Some kids handle movie violence better than others but I am glad you are still cautious as studies show that even some kids who are not bothered by it can have difficulty in developing the ability to understand the damage that real-life violence can do because it can impair the ability to understand what other people are feeling and inspire them to imitate it without understanding the risks. Sometimes material that does not bother them when they are younger can disturb them as they get old enough to understand it better.
    And there is plenty of time for them to see this kind of thing when they get older. Sounds like you’re handling this one just right.

  23. AS for the “Non-sexual nudity”…can you tell me where in the movie it (approximately) is? Is it somebody’s butt? Breasts? Trying to figure out if it’s appropriate for my child to watch. The violence doesn’t bother me it’s the nudity.
    Thanks in advance

  24. It is a brief shot of a nude man, back view, Jim, maybe 20-30% of the way in. I don’t know how old your child is, but my view is that for both sex and violence, it is the context that is controlling, so I recommend that parents think carefully about both rather than assuming one or the other is always all right.

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