X-Men Origins: Wolverine And The Mutant Healing Factor
Healing has always been held with fascination as a power unto itself, indestructibility saving a person so gifted from the inevitability of death. Its depiction in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the fourth in Marvel comics most popular series, comes with a price, a burden elegantly portrayed by Hugh Jackman who consistently adds dimension to the character, a mutant born with heightened animal-keen senses, increased strength, retractable bone claws, and the ability to recover from any wound, poison or illness. His only weakness from total immortality is being decapitated – his Achilles tendon – with physical and emotional pain as his constant companion, a difficult burden to carry for someone with a prolonged life span and considerable time to suffer.
Wolverine’s accelerated healing process makes it possible for the military to create a super soldier with marked improvements to his physiology by using his ability to regenerate allowing his skeletal structure to be reinforced with Adamantium, the indestructible element discovered from a meteorite in an excruciating process.
Jackman carries the film well, aided by a passionate performance by Liev Schreiber as the brother who embraced his animal-keen senses to become Sabertooth, with greater strength than Wolverine yet immersed in his dark side, a strong counter balance as they become vitriolic enemies, but there are too many plots going on at the same time, making the film hard to follow. Less would have made a better film. The action sequences are well done but far more conservative than the other films.
This adaptation, released May 1st, 2009 – directed by Gavin Hood, screenplay by David Bernioff and Skip Woods, based on the characters created by Len Wein and art director John Romita, Sr. – is more a character study than action-based film which spans the evolution of Wolverine from childhood in the early Eighteen Hundreds through the civil war to contemporary times and the pivotal moments that led to the sibling rivalry between him and Victor who will become his most vicious adversary Sabertooth , a predatory stalker with a taste for blood. The film also introduces some of the other young mutants and the emerging philosophy that defines the currents leading to the anti-mutant movement that will became the focus of all the X-Men films. However the other mutants’ powers are not used as well as they could have been, a major weakness of this character driven installment.
The acting is good but Jackman is a bit leaner in the fourth film than in his previous characterizations despite the promotional photo’s to the contrary, although it remains a visible reminder why Sabertooth is stronger until Adamantium is introduced into the equation. Besides, having one’s skeletal structure merged with the molten Adamantium injected into the bones would make even the greatest of gods weak at the knees.
The twists and turns that the story takes would seem more appropriately engineered by a demented Magneto than Colonel William Stryker, played by Danny Huston who portrays evil with a calculated civilized sensibility, less dark or mutant than one would expect from a military leader with a grudge against all the emerging youngsters with special powers.
As with all of Marvel’s characters, there is the identifiable struggle of alienation at the center of their battle for self confidence and acceptance in a world that views them as nothing more than freaks. This addition to the myth of Wolverine explains some of the mysteries introduced in the earlier films that leads to the development of X Mansion with Charles Xavier at its helm engaging and protecting his charges to use their powers wisely.
For a full List of the Cast see Imdb database.