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Hugh Jackman Was Not My Wolverine

Alright, so this is bound to grab some attention. You heard me right, I don’t think Hugh Jackman made a good Wolverine, and if you’re familiar with the comic books, you might agree with me. I want to be clear though, I enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s performance, especially in the first X-Men movie and in X-Men: Days of Future Past, as I felt he was closest to comic book Wolverine in those movies, but overall I felt like Jackman’s tenure as everyone’s favorite Canadian with claws was a character other than the Wolverine from the comic books. This article isn’t going to be an angry uninformed rant, I intend to be very throughout and give good explanations. I’m going to start with introducing you to the comic book Wolverine, then I’ll talk about the character Hugh Jackman played, after which I’ll compare and contrast the two, then I’ll finish with who I’d like to see play Wolverine in the future. Let’s dive in!

 

Wolverine In Comics

Wolverine’s story is tragic from the very start. Wolverine is usually known simply as “Logan” but was actually born James Howlett, and lived in Canada as the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Howlett (who was married to John Howlett, owner of a large estate) and the Howlett’s grounds-keeper, Thomas Logan. James didn’t have a very good relationship with his family, often being neglected by his mother and mistreated by his grandfather. James spent his early years with friends Rose (a child from town) and an unstable boy known as “Dog” (the grounds-keeper’s son and James’ half-brother). Long story short, one night the grounds-keeper invades the Howlett estate with his son in a druken stupor and attempts to steal away his former love, James’ mother, Elizabeth. The grounds-keeper kills Mr. Howlett, causing James’ bone claw mutation to manifest. James then kills the grounds-keeper in a blind rage and scars Dog’s face. As a result of all this tragedy and shock, James’ mother Elizabeth kills herself right then. James is eventually made to flee with Rose. What a nice family, right? James is deeply traumatized by all of this and his healing factor seems to somehow drive the trauma from his memories, leaving him partially amnesiac. It’s not long before James begins going by the name “Logan” and dishearteningly enough, starts to resemble the grounds-keepers more than his legal father as he grows older. Logan becomes a miner, hangs out with wolves, and experiences many more tragedies before finding the X-Men and becoming “Wolverine”.

Logan is a dark, grim, and tortured soul. He’s rude, distant, and vulgar in an attempt to hide and medicate deep pain that he often can’t even recall or identify. Logan very seldom expresses care or concern for others, and if he does, it doesn’t appear typical or genuine. Logan is primarily a loner and not a leader-type, even though he excels at it (from war experience) and is sometimes forced into a leadership role. Honestly, Logan does not have a lot of redeeming qualities beyond the advice he occasionally gives, the very few good relationships he has, and his rigid sense of honor. His stories often end badly and in sadness, but that’s who he is, he’s an anti-hero through and through. Logan’s appeal is in our unfortunate ability to, at times, relate with him in his suffering, trauma, anger, and distant nature. We cheer for him, not because he’s good and admirable (because he certainly isn’t), but because although he’s dark and unlikable, he is also powerful and is able to conquer his physical enemies, even though he can’t conquer his internal demons. This is something we desire to do in our own lives, so reading a Wolverine comic is a cathartic release for the reader. That is why, as comic book fans, we like Wolverine. Also, he’s just plain bad-ass.

Wolverine, in the comics, is very wolf-like in appearance, and very short and stout at 5’3″ 195 lbs. (without the adamantium skeleton). His stature is one of the primary reasons he was given the nickname “Wolverine.” Wolverine has a very blocky, stern, and uninviting face. He’s very intimating and hard to approach. Obviously, you can’t hear a character’s voice in a comic book, but Wolverine has always been given a gruff, scratchy voice in comic book animations, which fits with his character. Just imagine “smoker’s voice.”

 

Wolverine In Films

In the movies, Wolverine’s origin is mostly unchanged. James is still the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Howlett and the Howlett’s grounds-keeper, Thomas Logan. The grounds-keeper’s son “Dog” is replaced with Victor Creed (Sabertooth), now making them half-brothers. As James gets older he actually resembles Mr. Howlett while Sabertooth resembles their father. Of the changes to Wolverine’s story, I actually prefer the inclusion of Sabertooth over Dog from the comics. Even though I’m unhappy with how it plays out, I think its clever and provides a “full-circle” effect to the story. The grounds-keeper still murders Mr. Howlett and is impaled by a young Wolverine. His last words reveal that he is James’ biological father. Elizabeth Howlett survives this event as opposed to killing herself in the comics. Victor and James’ run away together and fight in every major American-involved war from WWI to Vietnam until they are recruited for special covert missions. On one mission, Victor and James’ disagree on methods and James’ leaves, becomes a logger in Canada, and starts a romantic involvement with a school teacher (meant to replace Rose from the comics). It’s unclear when Wolverine starts to go by the name of “Logan”. Just as in the comics, Wolverine’s life is filled with trauma and pain from here on out, but most of it is not documented. It’s unclear how much of this origin changes considering Fox’s desire to forget X:Men Origins: Wolverine ever happened, but with how the original X-Men movie starts its safe to say thee most important parts remain the same.

Wolverine in the films is still a tragic character, but it’s communicated in a different way. He is deeply pained, outwardly grim, but deep down he cares and has the potential to change. Wolverine can be brought to a point where he is vulnerable and open with how he feels, but is reluctant to do so. Wolverine starts out rude, vulgar, rebellious, and generally reluctant to help others, but slowly becomes more the opposite of theses things as his characters evolves. In the movies, Wolverine is able to connect and have numerous invested relationships even if at first reluctant, such as with Sabertooth, Jean Grey, Charles Xavier, and Laura (his illegitimate daughter). Wolverine is depicted as a broody jackass, with a dark past, who is presented many opportunities for redemption, and acts like a true hero when it matters.

In the films, Wolverine retains his wolf-like appearance, but is much taller (6’2″), leaner (195-200 lbs), and has a gaunter, slightly more pleasing face. Wolverine’s voice is fairly deep but still clear. Wolverine’s attitude is more intimidating than the way he actually looks.

 

Comparing The Two

Wolverine is a different beast on screen than he is on the page. The films attempts to translate the characters physical appearance and personality are shallow at best. Hugh Jackman’s resemblance to comic book Wolverine is only in the haircut, jacket, and claws. Now, I’m not suggesting that every actor cast as a comic book character needs to be the spitting image of that character, that’s obviously not true, but in this case I find it especially detrimental because I find Wolverine’s physical attributes closely tied to his identity. The height difference is huge, and Wolverine’s short stature is actually part of the reason for his name. In the comics. His short, bulky, and rugged physique literally make him look like an animal, and that’s why his comrades dubbed him “Wolverine”. Also, as you may have pieced together Hugh Jackman weighs the same as Wolverine, only at 9 inches taller. Although Jackman looks jacked, hes actually significantly smaller than Wolverine in the comics. The “angry, little man” aspect that I love about Wolverine is absent.

Wolverines slightly different personality in the films is another reason that took me out of it, and made it hard for me to identify the character as Wolverine. On the surface, Wolverine might seem the same gruff, angry, jackass from the comics, but I find the motives and causes of his trauma to be less powerful. Jackman’s Wolverine just doesn’t seem as damaged as his comic book counterpart, and he’s simply too likable. Yes, comic book Wolverine has his positive moments, he even teaches at the school, but he’s less heroic on the surface, and more extreme than Jackman. This could merely be due to a movie’s inability to develop a character at the same length and depth as an ongoing written media, but I feel a better attempt could have been made, and a more fitting actor cast (which we’ll get to in a bit). I also think a reason Wolverine turned out this way, is because Fox pushed for Wolverine to be a leading franchise character, as opposed to a supporting role I think the character is better suited for in movies. In order for him to be popular, and make more money, he had to be more heroic and likable.

Hugh Jackman has moments where he looks and feels like the Wolverine I love, but they’re not many. He resembles comic book Wolverine more in the earlier films, then they evolve the character and take him in a less familiar direction. Considering all that I’ve said, this is still just my opinion, and I realize that the way I feel about the accuracy of Hugh Jackman’s portrayal may be unique to me. Remember, I said I still enjoyed his performance, but he wasn’t truly Wolverine.

 

What I Would Have Done

At the time they were planning the original X-Men movie, I might have cast Tom Hardy, but currently he’s filming to portray Venom. I don’t like my comic book characters played by the same actor, in the same universe. You really have to sell the actor as his character, and that is easiest when they only play one. It was hard for me to accept Chris Evans as Captain America for the same reason, but that’s a story for another time! You may not find a suitable actor as short as Wolverine, at least I haven’t, but Tom Hardy is short enough (5’9″) and has a much more similar bulk and body type. Tom Hardy also has that “bad boy” rebellious image which would help sell the character, and he has played many anti-heroes and villains already. Roles like the ones he played in “Bronson”, “Warrior”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Lawless”, and “The Revenant” convince me he would do well.

Other actors they could have cast as Wolverine are Jon Bernthal, although now he plays The Punisher (exceptionally well, I might add), and martial artist Scott Adkins (“Undisputed” series, “The Bourne Ultimatum”, various stunt work). Both actors are on the shorter side, have dense and bulky builds, thick dark hair, and do well portraying gruff personalities onscreen. Scott Adkins would have been neat from a choreography standpoint, being an experienced martial artist.

While I would prefer to see another actor play Wolverine, even if you didn’t replace Jackman things could have been done to make him more like the original character. If the writers and directors had committed to the grim, damaged character they started with, instead of causing him to evolve into a more heroic, more likable character, I would have received it better. also, if they had employed camera tricks to make Jackman seem shorter, I would have been more likely to buy into it.

And that, my friends, is my unpopular opinion on Wolverine. Leave me a comment to tell me what you think. Take or leave it, just remember to stay kind!

~ Wesley

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DCEU Update!

In an effort to prevent bogging down our podcast with DC news every episode, I’d like to do a quick rundown of the recent happenings in the DCEU. We’ve had some big news in the last week and some news that’s existed for a bit but has just come to my attention. Let’s dig in!

 

SHAZAM!

Firstly, Zachary Levi was cast this week as Shazam in the upcoming Shazam! movie for the DCEU. I’m honestly really excited to see more progress for this movie. Shazam is an awesome character and I think we’ll find out that Levi was a solid choice. He’s expressed a lot of excitement for the character and promises to hit the gym every day from now until the movie is finished. Shazam! comes to theaters April, 5, 2019.

Zachary Levi is known for his playing Chuck Bartowski in the series Chuck. He also appeared in the films Alvin and the Chipmunks: The SqueakquelTangledThor: The Dark World, and Thor: Ragnarok.

 

WONDER WOMAN 2

The Wonder Woman sequel was was officially announced at San Diego Comic-Con this year. By August, Patty Jenkins was in final negotiations to return as director, officially signing the deal a month later, with confirmation that Gadot will be returning as the titular role.

Wonder Woman 2 is scheduled to be released in North America on December 13, 2019. This is exciting news for all of us I’m sure. Wonder Woman has become the breakout star, not just for DC, but the comic book movie world at large. It totally makes sense for DC to go all in on Wonder Woman.

 

THE BATMAN

Matt Reeves will soon be the latest director to leave his mark on the Batman franchise, as the movie is reportedly scheduled for a summer 2019 release. Although the film hasn’t entered production yet, Reeves was picked to direct the film back in January, after Affleck stepped down from writing and directing the film. There are still some details that need to be worked out, but DC has concrete plans to get this movie going.

In June, Reeves stated that the movie will focus on the detective side of the character, with a Hitchcock-influenced noir style that emphasizes seeing into Batman’s mind and heart in the storytelling techniques. It will most likely be a prequel to Batman V Superman and Man of SteelIn July, Reeves confirmed that the script was being re-written so as to be in line with his style and vision for the film, and also squashed rumors of it being outside the DCEU.

 

DEATHSTROKE

This month it was announced that a Deathstroke solo film is in development. Gareth Evans is in negotiations to be the screenwriter and director, with Joe Manganiello cast as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke.

A while back, test footage was released of Manganiello in full Deathstroke armor. Manganiello also recently leaked part of what is most likely Deathstroke’s helmet for the film on his twitter (pictured left). He was originally planned to be the primary antagonist of The Batman movie, but once Affleck stepped down as director so he could focus on his portrayal of Batman, and Reeves was hired as his replacement for director, the script was given a rewrite to fit the latter’s style and vision for the film. Although the character’s role in The Batman is unknown, the studio will develop a movie centered around the character after Evans impressed executives with his story pitch and convinced them to green light the film. I’m sure Alex is especially excited about this one! That Deathstroke cosplay of his is about to become even more popular.

 

That’s been your DCEU Update! I’ll try to keep you all in the loop whenever something exciting happens. Remember to stay kind, Geeks!

~ Wesley

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Wesley’s 5 Favorite Things About “IT”

Stephen King’s IT released in theaters this September to rave reviews and a record breaking box office performance (beating the 44 year old record set by The Exorcist), and in this weeks episode of Inconceivable I talked about how much I absolutely LOVED the new adaption. There were so many great things about the movie all around, but in this little article I’d just like to go over my five favorite parts.

 

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

 

1. Bill Skarsgard’s Eye Trick

Bill Skarsgard, the actor portraying the ominous clown known as “IT”, was superb in the role. Everything from his voice to his body posture was just great, but the single best part of his performance, in my opinion, was a neat trick he can do with his eyes. Skarsgard can move each of his eyes independently. In many of his scenes you can see how off and out of focus his eyes look and its incredibly unsettling. Its uncomfortable to look at and the longer you see him that way the more terrifying and ghoulish he seems. This little eye trick was huge for atmospheric effect. You can sort of see him doing it in the picture below, but you’ll see much better examples of it when you go to see the movie yourself.

 

 

2. The Losers Club Wins

One of the best parts of this movie is that the group of kids, referred to throughout the movie as “The Losers Club”, could have held this movie together on their own, no monster necessary. The kids are all so well acted, charismatic, and funny that you didn’t need the monster as the driving force of the movie, and in many ways, he’s not. Ultimately, this movie is about the kids and their real everyday fears. But, much to every viewers delight (or fright if you will), the monster was also incredible, so this movie is an all around success.

 

 

3. Secret Turtle

So, there’s a a huge umbrella plot in the Stephen King universe that involves giant turtles and deadly lights. IT is actually an eternal extra-dimensional entity. He’s like a god that exists in a larger universe outside of ours, and he feeds on fear. IT has a nemesis: a massive Turtle named Maturin, who created our universe, and they are locked in an eternal struggle. In the movie, Bill (leader of the Losers Club) finds his younger brother Georgie’s Lego Turtle and I thought that was a neat nod to the larger plot of Stephen King’s universe. Also, viewers have speculated that the large object in the picture below could be Maturin as well.

 

 

4. IT’s Close To Home

The story of IT takes place in Derry, Maine, and as you may know, Geek Kind is based in New Hampshire. I’ve always loved that Stephen King novels typical take place in New England. In the case of this movie, it made everything more real for me because I was familiar with the place the story was taking place.

 

 

5. Curry’s Cameo

Tim Curry didn’t actually appear in the film, but his version of the clown did. At one point in the movie, one of the kids wanders into a clown themed room fueled by his own fear. The room is filled different clown dolls, and right as IT moves in for the scare, you can see a doll modeled after Tim Curry’s IT costume on the left. I noticed this right away when I watched it in theaters and was pleasantly surprised by the reference.

 

Those are just five of my favorite things about the new IT movie! I highly recommend this movie, not just to horror fans, but to any fan of cinema period. I believe this is a definitive film in American movie history. It was well cast, wonderfully directed, and perfectly paced. Go see IT!

 

~ Wesley