— by NOAH VOGT —
After the May release of 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” I think it’s safe to say most of the general audience left the theater feeling that maybe they’ve seen our favorite adamantium hero claw one too many X symbols on the wall.
Sure, Wolverine pulled in solid box office numbers, grossing $369 million worldwide, but compared to the two previous X-Men films, which both pulled over $400 million, one cannot help but see “Wolverine” as anything but a huge disappointment. Oh and let’s not fail to mention that the movie’s reviews were abysmal and a the worst of the series — with critics and fans alike.
In fact, after the credits were done rolling, more people were discussing a potential Deadpool spin-off instead of another Wolverine film. Needless to say, Wolverine’s days on-screen seemed to be over.
Still, that hasn’t stopped “Wolverine” lead Hugh Jackman from announcing that a sequel was in development to MTV back in August. Personally, I read this as nothing more than Jackman stating his desires and hopes that another one was getting off the ground.
Honestly, how many times have we heard actors discuss sequels to films they knew would likely never happen? However, shortly thereafter, The Hollywood Reporter announced Fox had hired Oscar-winning screenwriter and, uber-talented, Chris McQuarrie to pen the sequel. This news alone quickly changed my opinion and showed me that perhaps Fox is serious about making another “Wolverine” film.
McQuarrie, whose works includes “The Usual Suspects” and “Valkyrie,” is no stranger to the X-Men universe. Though not officially credited, he helped write the script for Bryan Singer’s “X-Men.”
Chris McQuarrie’s addition tells me two things. First, that “Wolverine 2” is likely to hit the big screen, and, secondly, that Fox wants to try to get the sequel right. Still, knowing this, I can’t help but ask the question: is “Wolverine 2” it worth it?
When Bryan Singer left the X-Men franchise to make “Superman Returns,” the series took a hard nosedive in terms of quality. Out of spite for Singer leaving, Fox rushed to make another X-Men movie and ultimately turned to Brett Ratner to direct. “X-Men: The Last Stand,” despite being the highest-grossing film in the series (thanks to Singer’s popular films before), absolutely butchered one of the most beloved comic story arcs in history, the Phoenix Saga. Characters were thoughtlessly killed off and emotion and logic were sacrificed for more action and feathered hair.
Needless to say fans felt cheated by and dumped all over the film.
But regardless of the third movie’s shortcomings, fans held out hope for “Wolverine.” Fans were salivating over the idea of seeing Hugh Jackman in Weapon X gear and seeing a complete Wolverine killing freak out (which Bryan Singer so cooly teased in “X2”) after he laced with adamantium.
I’ve always been of the opinion that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was the real selling point of the franchise, considering his character was marketed the most, so there was plenty of money to be made with a spin-off. Fox had plenty of time to plan a great “Wolverine” film and give the fans a reason to forgive the mishap of “X3.”
Instead the film that was released was plagued with under-developed characters, needless mutant cameos, terrible SFX and a not-so-ferocious Wolverine.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate “Wolverine.” It had its moments. It certainly wasn’t as bad as “The Last Stand” — but it didn’t have to be. What it needed to be was epic, or just short thereof. After the bad taste that was left in audience’s mouths after “X3,” Fox needed to gain the audience’s trust back, and their dollars, with something they could truly love. The general audience was willing to do that with “Wolverine” as shown by the $85 million opening weekend.
But instead of people leaving the theater saying “that was awesome,” all that was muttered was “meh, it was alright.” And that’s all it took to kill the X-Men franchise and any character related to it.
Even if McQuarrie writes a great treatment for “Wolverine 2” and Fox hires a director capable of making an excellent film, it won’t matter much. Audiences will remember ”X3” and “Wolverine” and think of how they wasted their money and won’t even bother to go see the new film.
There’s a saying: “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” So I pose the question: Is it worth the trouble for Fox to spend millions of dollars to make an what could be an excellent film that potentially few people will see? Sure the hardcore fans will see it and maybe appreciate it, but we know that makes no difference (think: “Watchmen”).
In my opinion, it’s a case of too little, too late, and personally speaking, I think this scenario would be a sadder footnote to the X-Men franchise then what we have now. Not even Wolverine’s super healing powers can regenerate this franchise.
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