Movies Are Getting More Violent But Marvel Is Still Meandering
How many of you have watched The Wolverine?
I have and I can tell you that there was something blatantly missing from it, that no amount of writing or smart thinking could have fixed. It was a Wolverine movie without gore.
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When I initially heard of The Wolverine, I personally felt that it was an unnecessary movie that was just made to justify owning the license, and because anything with Wolverine’s name on it will sell by the millions, regardless of its quality. That’s not to say that it was bad, but I’ll come back to that. I didn’t feel it was necessary, but I was not averse to the possibility of watching a new Wolverine movie either. I mean I’d really like a solo Gambit movie, but beggars can’t be choosers in this case.
My very first surprise came when I read somewhere (on some social network or the other) that The Wolverine would not be a prequel, but rather a sequel-styled follow-on to X-Men: The Last Stand, which was not the greatest of superhero movies at all. The Wolverine was based on the very first Wolverine comics, which fused mutant healing factor powers with ninjas, in a time when mutants and ninjas were all the rage. TMNT, anyone? Thus, I expected this movie to at least follow on from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but no, rather it’s set more or less directly after the events of the third X-Men movie.
So with that in mind, I figured, “Hey, why not. Seems interesting enough,” and I went into the movie with a clear mind and a fresh perspective on the character of Wolverine. He’s not suffering from amnesia, he’s not unable to control his inner beast, he’s just a man who is in pain and reeling from the events of his life. A man without a purpose, who in this case, cannot die.
But as much as I rationalised the story and began to hype myself up for watching it, nothing could have prepared me for the gaping crevasse of something that I knew was missing. I just couldn’t shake the feeling. What was it about this movie that wasn’t quite there? Was it the writing and the narrative structure? No, I’m very used to watching not-the-best-written movies, and I just watched Man of Steel and enjoyed it in spite of the dearth of character progression. So what was it then?
Well, when you think of a Wolverine comic, you think of one thing: R-rated content.
And therein lies my biggest issue with The Wolverine. The entire reason that his comics grew to such popularity was because they were brutal. Absolutely fucking brutal. There was blood, guts and gore on every page. (Drawn, not literal.) And it didn’t hold back on the bad language, either. I mean think about it rationally here, the man has adamantium claws that are designed to be cutting utensils. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he turned a fire escape ladder to sawdust, but you mean to tell me that all he ever does is impale things? And even then, no blood?
The problem, obviously, is that of Marvel. They want to achieve maximum exposure for their movies so that they get ALL the ticket sales, and that unfortunately means that the highest age restriction that they would permit, is a PG-13. But a Wolverine movie is not a PG-13 movie, it’s an R-18 experience, more along the lines of a Tarantino flick, or a porno but with blood and guts instead of sex — a virgin porno then.
It’s not to say that blood and guts and gore hasn’t been done before. One need only look at The Punisher, which released many years ago, and actually was an R-18 movie that lived up to its comic-book adaptation. But Marvel execs will tell you that the movie performed poorly due to its reputation. This is true, so then what do we do about this quandary?
Do we sacrifice the material of everything we pull from, in order to maximise profits which then ensure that more of the same comes along in future? I can admit that if Iron Man, Thor and Captain America were not as successful as they were as standalone movies, then maybe phase two of The Avengers campaign could have been cancelled? Then again, Disney owns the rights to The Avengers, so there’s no way that’s going to have an R rating of any kind.
The Wolverine however, does not suffer from this. So what is the problem? Lost ticket sales aside, why is it so difficult to throw in a few dismembered appendages and maybe a decapitation at some point? He’s only the fiercest X-Men character since The Phoenix herself. At least Jean Grey exploded a house, in X-Men: The Last Stand. What did Logan do? Impale her. And not even in the way he would have liked…
I guess to be fair there was the one part where he exclaimed that a certain character go and “fuck” themselves, but then again in a PG-13 movie you are allowed a single swear word.
Staying until after the credits for The Wolverine, I found that my attendance was absolutely rewarded by the little teaser of what’s to come, and it more than made up for any disconcerting thoughts regarding the rest of the movie, including what ends up happening to Wolverine later on. Thus I can conclude that it’s mostly okay, but in a world where movies are getting accused of being more and more violent and, I mean do I even have to start about videogames? Fuck it, even the X-Men Origins: Wolverine videogame was a violent gorefest, with limbs flying everywhere. Why wasn’t the movie like that?!
Still, all things considered, The Wolverine was a good film that I’d recommend comic book geeks go and watch. Just, don’t expect the Wolverine we know from the comics. And remember that sometimes, Marvel just does not know what the fuck they’re doing… pretty much like the comics. Am I right, cloned Spider-Man?