Sort of a review of The Wolverine, plus some immature whining….

I’ve made some progress on the hard-copy edit of Shadows, even though real life has intervened over the last couple of days to pull me away. Dang you, real life. Meanwhile, I need to get something off my chest.

I went to see “The Wolverine” a few days ago–

All-in-all, one of the best Marvel pictures lately, and the best solo Wolverine effort out there. Hugh Jackman has always stood out as Wolverine/Logan; he seems to get the character in a way the other actors portraying X-Men in previous films have not.

At the start of the picture, it appears to be kinda in the aftermath of X-Men: The Last Stand— Wolverine is hiding out in the northern woods, grieving for Jean Grey, and not doing particularly well in general (hallucinations, poor grooming, and apparently a lot of alcohol are involved). A quirky Japanese assassin named Yukio contacts Logan and takes him to Japan, where he is confronted by faces from his past and new dangers.

The whole story is mostly character driven, with the introduction of a love interest for Logan. As such, it is very well done, and the action is tight and compelling. As with the X-Men movies in general, the storyline is not quite canon, in my opinion, as it changes some details of the comic-book storyline, not always for the best. My chief question mark about the movie, though, is a surprise twist at the end that I did not anticipate and which I am not sure I wholly liked. It may grow on me in time. On the whole I give the movie a solid thumbs-up.

As to things to come, I am very pleased and hopeful that the next X-Men production revolves around the “Days of Future Past” storyline, one of the best X-Men storylines ever. Bryan Singer picked a good one to adapt. Plus, the announced cast promises to be great, with Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Ellen Page returning as Kitty Pryde (down, boy…remember, they’re young enough to be your daughters…down, I say…). I’m looking forward to this one.

But I have to say, for my money, on the whole, all things considered, the X-Men movies have been a let-down.

I’m not a canon purist; I understand things like books and comics have to be adapted to the screen. But it seems to me that there’s been some serious disrespect of at least the spirit of the canon by the film-makers of this series; “X-Men: First Class” is a particular example (Moira MacTaggert as a CIA agent? Really?). It’s gotten to the point that I don’t recognize the storylines anymore; that’s why “Days of Future Past” is welcome.

But my biggest disappointment, frankly, is that no one ever figured out how to adapt “Where No X-Man Has Gone Before”.

For me, my X-Men ur-moment was October, 1977. I was in Germany, in the Army, and one night while on guard duty, but off-watch in the guard-shack, I picked up a comic someone had left behind on a cot, because I had nothing better to do. It was X-Men #107. I read it, and my mind underwent a profound re-orientation– aka, I was completely blown away. Here was a superhero team that argued and squabbled, who attacked first and didn’t apologize, one of whose members (guess who?) looked borderline homicidal, and who were actually getting their asses kicked and had to be rescued– all while the universe itself hung in the balance. It was worlds away (no pun intended) from the DC comics I’d read since I was a kid. The subsequent issues, the collaboration of John Byrne and Chris Claremont, confirmed to me that this was something special. I was hooked.

So, somewhere deep down, I want this storyline on-screen. I want the Shi’ar. I want Lilandra. I want the mad Emperor D’Ken and the M’krann Crystal. I want the Soul-Drinker (not to keep, mind you. Worse than a pit-bull). I want to see the X-Men come through the star gate, not knowing where they’re being sent, and come face-to-face with the Imperial Guard. Dammit, I want to see the Starjammers come down in the nick of time, in a blaze of blasters and aplomb, and pull the X-Men’s butts out of the fire. And I want to see Jean Grey save the freaking universe.

Want, want, want…. I’ve come to understand a few things since I was that rather silly kid who picked up that comic thirty-six years ago. One thing is that, most usually, I don’t get what I want. The movies are what they are– the storylines have diverged from canon, the Jean Grey character appears to be out of the picture for good, and no amount of whining is going to change those facts. I don’t own the characters or the universe. The situations and characters are in the hands of other people– many of them very talented and creative folk, mind you, with a right to their own vision. So I just have to put my disappointment in a box and go on….

…to the best therapy for literary disappointment I know– writing. It’s the same reaction I had in the wake of Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers (an abortion) and the premature cancellation of Firefly (a crime for which anyone has yet to be prosecuted)– I go and start writing something I feel rescues the spirit of the failed work (while– ahem– staying well on this side of plagiarism). I find that feeling let down by other writers/creators is definitely inspirational. It’s partly because of earlier disappointments that I actually have a backlog of projects beside the Divine Lotus series. It’s definitely better than drowning my sorrows in bourbon. Way better than crack. If you’re going to medicate by means of an addictive substance, writing is truly superior.

Okay, so that’s off my chest. Back to work. Later.

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