Comic Book Movies and TV Spin Offs. What do they have in common?

Television has used the spin off for years, almost from the beginning to revive dull or dying TV nights. Usually they take a character from a popular ensemble show, be he Doctor Frasier Crane from Cheers, or the stupidest Friend who wasn’t Phoebe (it was Joey). Annnnnd then they move them to a new town. And that’s usually it. Frasier goes to Seattle, Joey goes to L.A. Some times these shows thrive (for some reason) like Maude, or The Jeffersons. But more often you get a Joanie Loves Chachi from Happy Days or , gulp, AfterMASH. From MASH. Only after. Yikes.

So with that I’ve just now seen X Men Origins: Wolverine. And yes, it was everything I had heard it was.  And since I’m assuming enough people have seen it,  me talking freely about the events and characters in the film won’t spoil it at this time. You are alerted.

Let me contextualize this film to begin.  There were three X Men movies. Wolverine starred in all of them. He was a mysterious loner, without a past, reluctant to join a team but achieving a heroism he thought impossible, all while trying to learn his true identity and origin.

Now Wolverine gets his very own spin off movie! He’s the star of the show, as if he wasn’t already. And we follow him through new territory. His past. Which everyone already kind of heard about in the first three movies. But whatever. We all want to SEE it happen. That’s the important thing.

Wolverine’s origin was already chronicled in the comic book story, obviously titled Origin. That came out in 2001-2002. And years before, Wolverine’s experiences with Weapon X were collected in a story called Weapon X (A for originality of titles)

So really this movie is a retelling of those two comics, but at the same time spinning off what has already been established in the previous three films. So how did they get it so wrong?

We have about two seconds worth of Origin material, centered on James Howlett (who will be Logan) busting out the baby claws and impaling his dad. Then a montage of him and his half broseph Creed.  They are recruited for a secret government ops team, joining popular and unpopluar characters alike from the comics. We have Deapool, and some others, like Blob (whatever) but this is pretty thin as far far as cover for Logan’s origin.

I can tell you that the elite team Wolverine fought with in the comics was Team X, who gave him false memories. Then Weapon X abducted him. Then they experimented on him. This is important. Logan never wanted Adamantium claws. He never joined Weapon X. He hates them, thus his crazed anguish over what they did.

I also just want to say that in the comics, it is implied that Logan’s continual memory loss is a result of his healing factor, as his mutant ability would cover the memories as a way to heal Logan’s fragile sanity. Not Adamantium bullets. Never Adamantium bullets. You would not believe my head shaking when that came into play.

I think the Weapon X stuff was handled really well in X2: X Men United (or something like that, stupid sequel titles). There was the reconnection to Stryker, his former tormentor with the hints of their past enough to fill in the story then, and a understanding of this dark chapter that I think was better in flashbacks than the entire extended sequence in this film.

But mostly what this film screws up isn’t Logan, but everyone else. Deadpool was ruined. Creed was underwhelming, Cyclops was. . in this movie? Why is Cyclops in this fucking thing? He’s got nothing to do with this story. Gambit was another head scratcher. They had three movies to bring in Gambit, but nooo. They went with the blue men groupies (as I call them) instead. Mystique, Nightcrawler, and, um, Beast? Why? You had Gambit sitting on the sidelines,  but went with Beast? Lame.

Now, lets think about how this film outright condradicts the earlier entries. One, Sabertooth is way, way off. Remeber the mute, lumbering, blonde giant of X Men? How did that happen? We go from clean cut Leiv Schrieber to the hulking moron in the original movie. True, that character wasn’t done all that well. But, come on. Plus, Styker’s character, though motivated by the same forces, is just off to me. I think Danny Huston, though a fine actor himself, probably should have rethought it a little.

Nice Sunglasses Asshole

Nice Sunglasses Asshole

And again, this whole Cyclops thing just mystifies me. So you’re telling me that in all the time that Cyke and Wolvie were hanging out in the X Men for three movies, Cyke never went, “You know Logan, when I was seventeen I was actually kidnapped by that Sbertooth guy we just fought, he took me to 3 mile island, which was really a mutant processing plant, and I was rescued by someone who sounded an awful lot like you.” And then Professor X turns around and goes, ” Oh yea. I forgot all about 3 mile island, where I initially met young Mr. Sommers. But now that I think of it Logan, I do recall Stryker was there himself, whom you just killed back there. Coincidence?”

You blew it movie. You didn’t respect the comic book characters or the three movies we the general public are basing this spin off on.

So I was disappointed to see all this happening in what was supposed to be a new direction for the X Men franchise. It’s like TV spin offs. Unless they get the character right, it doesn’t go anywhere.

This has happened before, especially in comic book movies. Remeber Supergirl? Remember Catwoman? Remeber Elektra? So far, it’s only been the ladies getting the spin off treatment, but now that spin offs are a gender nuetral issue, I think things are going to get much worse. Firts off, a Deadpool Spin Off? How is that possible unless the creature at the end of Wolverine wasn’t Deadpool? Which it wasn’t. It really wasn’t. Trust me. That is as far from Deadpool as one could get. But seriously? How badly are they going to ruin Deadpool with his own feature film? And I like Deadpool. He’s a great comic book character.

I have also heard about a Magneto Origin in works, but again why? We saw a ten minute flashback in X2 ( I think) showing a young Eric Magnus Lehnsherr in a Nazi camp, during WWII. It had all of the elelments necessary to set up Magneto’s belief in the cruelty of humanity and it’s inability to be saved/ helped/ tolerated. Why do we need 2 more hours of this story?

You have better stories to tell. Let’s do  a Day’s of Future Past alternate universe thing. Let’s really go for it. Let’s bring in the other bad guys we apparently don’t want to talk about. I don’t get how the X Men villains could be so ignored. Batman got two new villians per movie for awhile there, and even got a little Scarecrow action, and Spiderman fought Doc Ock and Sandman. Why not give us Mr. Sinister? Or how about Apocalypse? These are great, monsterous, seemingly unstoppable villians. Ripe for the picking.  But they ignored that track when they just kept Magneto around and brought about all that turning mutants into homosapians thing. Why not go for the Legacy Virus story at least? C’mon assholes. We want to see these movies. Not another Origin story. Origins are boring. Best part of the Dark Knight? No Joker Origin Story.

Movies like Sin City and the Watchmen one even have shown us the best way to show a comic book movie on screen is to Show A Comic Book On Screen. It lends itself perfectly. You don’t have to do the guess work. They showed you how to make this thing already. I fear for the future of comic book movies. They are going to undoubtedly start spinning off from spin offs and now there’s a whole Captain America/ Iron Man/ Thor/ Avengers thing happening. It’s getting complicated. Let’s leave the spinning to the lazy writiers of tlelvision. With $150 Million you can do better than this.

-Charlie

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Filed under Comic Books Are Awesome, Films I've Watched

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