Will ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Help or Hinder ‘The Wolverine’s success?
In the years since X-Men Origins: Wolverine rolled onto screens, fanboys and girls have made no secret of what an abomination they think it is. It doesn’t work as a comic-book movie, a franchise spin-off or even a fourth X-Men film, and most fans would rather it never have existed at all. Given that Hugh Jackman and others who were involved have given interviews saying things to the same effect, have lessons been learnt for the upcoming reboot/not a reboot The Wolverine?
It’s hard to imagine that general opinion regarding the Origins movie won’t have some bearing on the success of and reaction to this new movie but, if so, how? Will the hatred push people to go see a better imagining of the character, or has it killed their interest in a Wolverine movie altogether? It’s also worth mentioning that The Wolverine hasn’t made the hugest impact online or otherwise this summer, with bigger, louder blockbusters kind of shouting it into submission.
What’s very striking about the buzz surrounding the film is how keen everyone is to distance themselves from the general X-Men universe – especially Origins. Early talk had the film as an R-rated gore fest that, let’s face it, would never have been made in a million years, and now we’re faced with a movie that isolates the main character from a very popular ensemble cast. In a post-Avengers world when studios are falling over themselves to assemble super-teams, this is an odd choice.
Brand recognition is everything, with character and plot often coming second. The Wolverine is a unique beast, then, for – like Man of Steel – having something to prove to audiences beyond whether the character can work on screen. We know the character can work, we’ve seen it, and it’s the other elements that needed to be worked out. Jackman has spoken about how his first solo outing looking and feeling too much like a fourth X-Men movie rather than its own thing, and that’s definitely not the case with this new, darker, effort.
A lot of it relies on the star power of Hugh Jackman, who thankfully still stays loyal to the character despite the phenomenal success he’s enjoyed off the back of the role. For many people, especially movie fans who have never read an X-Men comic book in their lives (myself included), Jackman is Wolverine, and having him return to the franchise is something to celebrate in itself. But a star is nothing when put in a terrible movie, as the first attempt proved, and the jury is still out on what we should expect going into this reboot. Will it take itself too seriously?
The films of this franchise are very strange when lined up together, mostly because, as one of the first successful superhero film series of modern times, it has had to roll with evolving trends to stay alive. The first three films are certainly different to X-Men: First Class and neither of them bear any resemblance to The Wolverine, so does the presence of a known character guarantee success at all? By distancing themselves from the franchise’s previous outings, it’s possible that James Mangold and co. have set themselves up for disappointment all over again.