Wolverine is the first instalment in the X-Men Spinoff series Origins and while it is an enjoyable, with the obligatory exciting fights, big explosions and cool cameos it never manages to quite match the quality of the franchise it has span away from. Nor can it compete with other memorable superhero films of the last year. Wolverine is one of the most interesting characters in the X-Men franchise, always at the fore of the action with one-liners as razor-sharp as his claws but with a mysterious background grounding the character and making him despite his exceptional powers quite recognisably human. The perfect starting off point for a film starring the character you’d assume? Not quite.
While Hugh Jackman shines and clearly continues to relish the role, Wolverine collapses primarily because this is a solo piece, other characters dipping in and out of the plot as and when a big fight scene is needed. The film sparkles when Wolverine encounters characters like Gambit precisely because it is only here the character can demonstrate his trademark sense of humour. Simply put, as part of an ensemble in the reluctant, brooding rogue fits perfectly but left alone the character is simply too dour. The plot of the film doesn’t help this, not because the storyline is too dark but because Wolverine’s origin was already covered with some depth and much more interestingly in X2. The outcome to the events of the film is already known to us: somewhere by the end Wolverine will have no memory and the main villain will escape giving the film feeling somewhat vacuous.
With the bad out of the way there is plenty to like about the film. The aforementioned cameos are nicely done. Fan favourite Gambit is as charismatic as the comic’s version and as some will remember from the cartoon series in the 90s and is the perfect foil for Logan. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool leaves you wanting you to see much more of the wisecracking mercenary and a couple of surprise cameos from the main X-Men series tie this film nicely into the continuity of the main series. There are plenty of things for everyone to enjoy. The action and special effects are all excellent, reaching their apex with a set piece pitting motorbike, jeep, helicopter and steel claws against each other. It’s completely over the top but absolutely thrilling. If that doesn’t tempt you to watch the film and you happen to be female, it’s worth pointing out that in this film Hugh Jackman is naked. A lot.
Compared to other successful superhero origin stories, such as last year’s Iron Man, it falls flat having neither the humour nor strong characterisation seen there. Nor can it compete with the superiority of writing seen in The Dark Knight, coincidentally also featuring a brooding antihero. But Wolverine delivers plenty of thrills and expands on a Wolverine’s character captivatingly enough to ensure its worth your money while whetting the appetite for more X-Men Origin instalments.