Lately, it seems that every comic book movie down the pike can be subtitled: Or How Our Hero Got His Angst On. At this point, they should really rename the whole genre bummer books.
So, as X-Men Origins: Wolverine begins, we watch as the child version of our mutant hero kills the father he didn’t know he had (if that won’t get you a little angsty, I don’t know what will), and then goes on the lam with the glowering mutant brother he didn’t know he had. Running through the woods, they morph into their adults selves: Strapping, pumped up Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and snarly, feral Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. We then watch scenes of the brothers fighting side by side in the Civil War, then WWII, Vietnam, and finally Iraq. Eventually, they are recruited by a smarmy government agent (Danny Huston), who wants to use them as the powerful weapons they are. Sabretooth loves all the sanctioned killing, but Wolverine doesn’t want to embrace the animal within and instead moves to peace-loving Canada, where he gets work as a lumberjack and shacks up with a hot Native American named Kayla (Lynn Collins).
Pop quiz: If you were a superstrong mutant living out the hippie life in Canada with your girlfriend, what’s the one thing that would really make you the Mayor of Angstoria? Ummm, yeah, so that happens. Next thing you know Wolverine is getting his veins pumped with the metal compound adamantine, turning his talons into indestructible weapons—hellbent for revenge.
He pauses just long enough to meet a kindly old couple who show him human decency and KABLAMM-O! Bye bye, kindly old couple.
X Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t all angst all the time. It has some amusing supporting work: Ryan Reynolds is a welcome diversion as a wise-cracking mutant named Deadpool, CNN hologram experiment (and, uh, Black Eyed Peas frontman) Will.i.Am makes a solid film debut as the wily teleporter John Wraith, and Friday Night Lightscharmer Taylor Kitsch shows up late as the Doc Holliday-like Gambit. It’s not meant to be a slight on Jackman or Schreiber—both fine actors—that we crave more of these sidekicks. It’s just that man (and possibly not even teenage boy) can not live on angst alone. I wish someone over at Fox had gotten the memo.