In general, sequels usually are not as good as the original movie, but they aren’t always bad. Prequels, however, are consistently horrendous; often tarnishing the original movie and characters. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) is no different.
In 1845 Canada, young James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) sees his father killed by groundskeeper Thomas Logan. The trauma activates the boy's mutation: bone claws protrude from James' hands, and he kills Thomas, who reveals with his dying breath to be James' real father. James flees into the forest along with Thomas's son Victor Creed (Liev Schrieber), who is thus James' brother. They spend the next century as soldiers in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) offers the two of them a position in Team X, a group of mutant special operatives. But James leaves because of the questionable actions and disregard for life. Years later, James now goes by Logan and lives in Canada as with his girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Colonel Stryker appears to warn Logan that someone is killing members of Team X. Shortly after, Victor murders Kayla and attacks Logan. Stryker offers Logan a way to beat Victor; an experimental procedure that would reinforce his skeleton with adamantium, a virtually indestructible metal. Logan asks for new dog tags that read “Wolverine” after a story Kayla had told him. After the procedure, Logan overhears Stryker ordering Logan’s memory to be erased. Logan violently fights his way out, and learns about Stryker’s elaborate plot to combine the powers of several mutants into one: Weapon XI, the Mutant Killer.
The story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine really seems haphazardly thrown together in an attempt to maintain interest in X-Men film series. The story was rushed; they threw in lots of well known comic book characters but didn’t give them enough screen time to allow any of them to develop into the interesting characters that they are. I was most upset about Remy “Gambit” LaBeau (Taylor Kitsch). Gambit was always a favorite of mine; like most of the other characters, he shows up for a little bit delivers a few lines and shows off some mutant powers and that’s it. One of Gambit’s more endearing traits is his thick Cajun accent, which is scarcely detectable in this movie. It just so happens that Gambit owns and knows how to fly an airplane to transport Wolverine to Stryker’s hide out; that never occurred in the comic books. It’s almost like after the story was written, they then stuck iconic Marvel characters in wherever it was convenient, regardless of how illogical it would be for the previously established characters. It’s just poor writing.
It was neat to learn about where Wolverine came from, but it removes the intriguing mystery behind the character. Wolverine is one of the more popular X-Men characters, and there really is no one that could play him like Hugh Jackman, who is perfect for the role! Wolverine’s ability to heal from anything makes him the perfect action hero, and the action in this movie is over the top and fun. Having an invulnerable character as the main protagonist brings to mind tank-like action heroes of the early 1980’s; fun but uninteresting. I’d hate to think this movie has essentially thrown Wolverine away, but there’s not much left that can be done with him. It would have been much better to have Wolverine go on a quest to find out all the details of his past (since in the original movies he has amnesia), and see how these revelations change him as a character and how he grows from it. Starting over from the very beginning and encountering token cameos from other popular characters doesn’t do the franchise or characters any favors.
If you’re an X-Men fan, I do not recommend watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s a weak attempt to keep the franchise alive and will leave you upset with what they did to your favorite characters. The only reason to watch it is to see Hugh Jackman be Wolverine some more. If you aren’t a fan, it will just leave you confused and annoyed. Just stick with the first two X-Men movies.